Philippine Island Times Adventures of an American expat in the Philippines

May 12, 2007

Philippine Visas

Filed under: — lapulapu @ 8:55 am

Check out the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs for official info. (Note: Philippine government websites are not always up-to-date. If you can’t live with that sort of thing, you don’t want to go to the Phils.) A passport is required for all visas for Americans.

Tourist Visas

Americans and most others can get an on-the-spot 21 day tourist visa when they arrive in the Philippines. Extensions can be arranged later. Another option for longer stays is to get a 59 day visa before leaving the US. Check the website of the Philippine Consulate near you for application details. It isn’t difficult and they have always gotten my visa to me with in two weeks. I recommend it.

For any tourist visa an onward ticket is required. If you’re planning to get a 21 day visa upon arrival, the departure date is supposed to be in 21 days or less. If you’re applying for a 59 day visa ahead of time the departure date is supposed to be in 59 days or less from the time of your arrival. People tell me that Philippine immigration doesn’t always check for an onward ticket and if they do they might not worry about the departure date, but chances are your airline will check and won’t allow you to board in the first place if you don’t have one. If you really just want to go to the Phls one-way, you can get a second one-way ongoing ticket to Macau or somewhere else nearby for about $50. Consider it a small price to pay for being one of the lucky few who don’t have to leave anytime soon.

Visas for Retirees

Many retirees just use the tourist visa and get perpetual extensions for about $360 a year. They have to leave the country once every eighteen months or so, which can be an opportunity for a little vacation. Others marry Philippine citizens, which normally allows them to get free passport stamps under the “balikbayan” program when entering the country with their spouses. Those stamps are good for one year, no extensions necessary, but do require leaving and re-entering the country with a Philippine spouse on a yearly basis. It is possible to get long-term retirement visas that don’t require a yearly exit. Instead they require a deposit or investment in the Philippines of from $10,000 (for those at least 50 years of age and with a pension) to $50,000 (for those younger and without pensions). Consult the Philippine Retirement Authority.

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