What you need to know before visiting Philadelphia
Traveling to Philadelphia is a breeze. Once you have landed, it’s a quick and easy trip through Customs. The Office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection monitors average wait time per passenger going through Passport Control and Philadelphia International Airport works hard to keep the wait time minimal, which includes 24 automated passport kiosks to help ensure a swift experience.
Before you take off
- Visas: Many foreign travelers need visas. To determine your needs, visit the U.S. Department of State’s website.
- Electricity: The U.S. and Canada use 110 to 120 volts AC, as opposed to 240 volts in use in most of Europe, Australia and New Zealand. It’s best to purchase an outlet adapter before traveling to the United States.
- Clothing and shoe sizes: Most clothing is not taxed in Pennsylvania, making it the best place to build a new wardrobe. The exceptions are: formal day or evening wear; sporting goods and clothing worn or used when engaged in sports; and some articles of clothing with fake or real fur. Click for a more detailed list.
The U.S. has a unique clothing and shoe sizing system. Use the charts found here to convert measurements from one system to another.
- Sales taxes: Most goods in the city are assessed a 7 percent sales tax. This is in addition to the amount on the price tag. Necessities like food and clothing are not taxed, with some exceptions.
- Converting measurements: The U.S. does not use the metric system. Use this guide to get an idea of how measurements compare.
- 1 liter = 1.057 quarts
- 29.57 milliliters = 1 fluid ounce
- 1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds
- 2.54 cm = 1 inch
- 0.9 meters = 1 Yard
- Tipping/Gratuities: Tipping is expected in certain situations. At restaurants, for example, diners should tip 15 percent to 20 percent of the total check. Other tipping guidelines:
- Bartenders: 10 percent to 15 percent of the total tab
- Hotel bellhops: $1 to $2 per piece of luggage
- Hotel cleaning staff: $1 to $5 per day
- Parking valets: $1 to $2
When you get here
- Currency Exchange: Travelex provides foreign currency and check-cashing services in Terminal A-West near Gate A14 and Gate A18, Terminal A-West International Arrivals Hall, Terminal A-East near Gate A4, The UPS Store located in the A/B Link, and Terminal D near Gate D8.
- Free WiFi: Available throughout the airport
- Electrical outlets: In need of a charge? Look for red “Power Up” signs with available outlets. Important note: The U.S. and Canada use 110 to 120 volts AC versus 240 volts in use in most of Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
- Privacy for nursing mothers: Nursing mothers can take advantage of 30 free minutes in a private Minute Suite in the Terminal A/B connector.
- Translation services: International flights are often met by airport employees who speak the native tongue of the departure country. Besides most European languages, Arabic, Russian, Chinese and Mandarin, the passenger assistance team also have employees who know Kpelle, spoken in parts of Guinea and Liberia; Malay, spoken in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore; and Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. The city also subscribes to a language line for travelers in need of services. It can be reached at 800-648-0170.
The following language services are available for business travelers:
- American Language Services
- Cetra Language Solutions
- Deaf-Hearing Communication Centre, Inc.
- Global Arena
- International Simultaneous Interpreters
- MTM Linguasoft
Pick up a Philadelphia International Visitors Guide, available in Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian, French, Japanese and Chinese at the Philadelphia International Airport, visitor centers and hotels, or find them online.
Philadelphia is one of the world’s most walkable cities with excellent public transportation systems. Learn more visitor basics.