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Tourist Visa Fees Increased

For anyone who has been here in the Philippines for a while and still on a tourist visa you know about how the fees at Bureau of Immigration are always changing. When I first moved here, if you waited for your visa extension to be processed, you were charged a 500-peso “Express Line Fee.” This is something they never asked you if you wanted, they just charged you.

Then they made the Express Line fee mandatory. Recently they added a new fee, Express Line for Processing and a Express Fee for Certification. Both are 500 pesos.

Once you received your residency, you also had to apply for an ACR I-Card (Alien Certificate of Registration). This is similar to the U.S. Green-Card. As always, there was forms, and many photocopies of all papers plus 1×1 and 2×2 photos. Recently the ACR card program was added to any alien at their first 59-day Visa extension. Now, if you come to the the Philippines for a visit and you plan to stay longer than 21 days, besides getting a Visa extension, you have to apply for your ACR I-card.

A friend here is planning to return to the U.S. permanently or at least for some years until he reaches retirement. He is younger than I am and feels he needs to go back and earn a living there since it is almost impossible to make an income here without huge money to start a business. He is leaving in less than a month but needed to receive a one-month Visa extension. He had to pay the extra expense for a card he will no longer need.

I have had my residency for over a year now and the only time I needed to show my ACR I-card was at the Bureau of Immigration when I filed for the Yearly Audit.  So now everyone needs this card to fill their wallet but there will be more room there after you pay the fees.

Below is the Current Fees for Visa Extensions from the Bureau of Immigration Web Site, but do not count on these amounts to stay stable, they always find ways to increase them.

22 Responses to “Tourist Visa Fees Increased”

  1. Randy says:

    Just thought I would mention that as a foreigner, married to a Filippina travellers could qualify for the Balikbayan Priviledge:

    Consular Information Bulletin on the New Balikbayan Visa Privilege

    1. What is the Balikbayan Visa Privilege?

    2. Who may avail of the Balikbayan Visa Privilege?

    3. What are the conditions to avail of the Balikbayan Visa Privilege?

    4. What steps should be followed to avail of the Balikbayan Visa Privilege?

    5. What documentation are required to enter the Philippines under the Balikbayan Visa Privilege?

    – for former Philippine citizens

    – for the foreign spouse and foreign minor unmarried children

    No visa shall be required for a maximum stay of one (1) year for the following Balikbayans, every time they enter the Philippines to visit, regardless of the frequency of their travel:

    1. Former Philippine citizens (including Filipinos who have become naturalized U.S. citizens, and citizens of the Bahamas, Bermuda and other countries within the jurisdiction of the Embassy of Washington, D.C.);

    2. Foreign spouses and minor foreign unmarried children of Filipinos and former Filipino citizens.

    The balikbayan privilege is extended to former Philippine citizens, the foreign spouse and the foreign minor unmarried children of Philippine citizens, provided that:

    1. they are nationals of Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Oman, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Tuvalu, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, or Vietnam; and

    2. they are traveling together to the Philippines with the balikbayan spouse.

    The former Philippine citizen shall declare before a Philippine Immigration Officer at the port of entry that he/she is availing of the balikbayan privilege and shall present his/her valid passport in addition to any of the following documents:

    1. cancelled Philippine passport;
    2. birth certificate; 3. naturalization papers to show former Philippine citizenship; or
    4. certification from the adopted country.

    The accompanying foreign spouse and foreign minor unmarried children of Filipinos and former Filipino citizens shall declare before a Philippine Immigration Officer at the port of entry that he/she is accompanied by a Filipino or former Filipino spouse or parent and that he/she is availing of the balikbayan privilege, and shall present his/her valid passport in addition to the following:

    1. Foreign spouse: Valid passport and Marriage certificate
    2. Foreign Minor unmarried children: Birth certificate
    3. Adopted children: Adoption papers

    For further verification please call the Philippine Embassy

    • Bruce says:

      Randy,
      Thanks for the info. The Balikbayan Visa is good for those who go back to their home country or travel at least one every year. I know of one family who have been living here for years and every year they go back to visit family. For those whose wife cannot get a open visa to travel, or thouse who cannot afford a vacation each year, they need to just get residency.

  2. Marvin says:

    Also Bruce, I believe your friend who is returning to the states with the useless ACR-I card will probably have to pay about 50 bucks or around 2500 pesos at the airport just for having it and exiting the country. Don’t let him stand in line for an hour with passport in hand and be told to go back to the ACR-I window to pay the fee before they’ll stamp the passport.

    • Bruce says:

      Marvin,
      Any foreigner who has stayed in the Philippines for over six months needs to get an exit visa. It saves time if you just visit your local Bureau of Immigration and file there. It is interesting, here in the Philippines you need to pay to live here and then need to pay to leave.

  3. Hi Bruce,

    Sheesh! Cheaper to just to stay at home, although my home is sitting at -5C so I would prefer to be there!

    • Bruce says:

      John,
      It was nice meeting you and enjoying your company. With the extreme heat here, I would enjoy freezing temps for a while.

  4. Bruce, I am wondering about this: “Now, if you come to the the Philippines for a visit and you plan to stay longer than 21 days, besides getting a Visa extension, you have to apply for your ACR I-card.”

    That must be a recent change then right? I was there in october november and it was a breeze as usual to get my 38 days extension in Cebu city. Do tourist “VISA people” need a card also now?

    • Bruce says:

      Stefan,

      Yes, as of now, when you file for your first 59 day extension you need to apply and PAY for an ACR I-card. At times it will not even be back from Manila before your ready to leave.
      This is the only country I know so far that charges you to enter, stay and then leave. Once your here longer than 6 months, you have to pay for an exit visa.

  5. BrSpiritus says:

    “Also Bruce, I believe your friend who is returning to the states with the useless ACR-I card will probably have to pay about 50 bucks or around 2500 pesos at the airport just for having it and exiting the country.”

    If this is true I’m going to flip my lid in Manila because I just don’t have that kind of money right now.

    • Bruce says:

      BrSpiritus,

      Is that besides the cost of your exit visa? What would this additional fee for? Also have you already received your “useless” ACR I-card? I was thinking it would take 2 to 3 months and would arrive after you already left.

  6. Rob says:

    I think that might be the airport fee that you’re referring to. I think that was about 20 US dollars… I’m not sure what the amount is exactly though. It caught me by surprise my first trip home from Manila. I was glad that I had enough cash to cover the cost at least.

    • Bruce says:

      Rob,
      No, there are 3 fees if your leaving the Philippines. If here over 6 months there is a Exit Visa. It can be paid at Bureau of Immigration or at the airport. I feel it is easier to do it in advance then to possibly get in long line at airport when you have things to do there. If you are a Filipino or any person who has been in the Philippines over a year has to pay a Travel Tax. It is 1650 Pesos if travelig coach and 2700 pesos if flying first class. Then there is the airport fee. The airport fee is 750 Pesos for international flights and 200 pesos for domestic. Visit Philippine Portal.com for more information.

  7. don m. says:

    When I was leaving manila I noticed that some of the exit fees would soon be going up. I’m not sure how much or for what but I remeber is was a substancial amonut. (when I was there in Feb.)

    • Bruce says:

      Don M,
      Fees are always changing here. Just as with the “express lane” fee. There is no express line and everyone has to pay it regardless of how long they have waited on line. It is just another way to get more money.

  8. Leon Andrews says:

    This is why I decided to get the SRRV ( Special Resident Retirement Visa ).
    Cost me USD11400.00 to obtain plus a few Pesos for medical and NBI clearance etc.
    Now my costs are USD10.00 per year.
    Pulled the money to pay for the SRRV out of my investment account in Australia and therefore losing about AUD600.00 a year in interest but however now not having to pay about AUD1000.00 per year in Tourist Visa renewal fees, a paper saving of AUD400.00 a year with none of the hassels like going to the BI every 2 months and a few other benifits but of course living here in the Philippines a few draw backs as well.
    Leon.

    • Bruce says:

      Leon,
      Good for you. I just had a bad taste in my mouth about the SRRV. You tie up a lot of money that if you ever need and remove it, you lose your visa.

  9. Brad F. says:

    My wife has been telling me about all the insane, unexplainable fees in the Philippines for years. I’m beginning to see what she’s talking about.

    So far, “So now everyone needs this card to fill their wallet but there will be more room there after you pay the fees.” pretty much sums up my opinion. You’ll have a lot of room in your wallet all the time, because you’ll never have money for anything but fees.

    Right now I’m here on a balikbayan visa since we entered the country together. I’m trying to find out if I can get a job while on that visa while we get ready to process my resident visa. Gonna be here a few years. You know anything about that?

    • Bruce says:

      Brad,
      You are not allowed to work on a Balikbayan visa legally. To work without residency you need a work permit which is difficult to get unless the employer can explain how you are needed where there is no Filipino to fill the position. After you get your 13a residency you can fill any job position.

      • Brad F. says:

        Thanks for the information. I’ll keep trying in the meantime. Can’t hurt. I suppose there would be a pretty good case for an employer to argue that I’d make a better Communications Trainer than a local. Regardless, once I get the 13(a) there should be no problem, like you said.

        • Bruce says:

          Brad,
          If your teaching English communication skills, I do not think you would have any trouble getting a work visa and permit.

  10. jhoanna says:

    i am a balikbayan filipina and i brought my us citizen son with me here in the philippines for an 86 days vacation. he was granted with a balikbayan visa. i know i wouldn’t have to pay extension fees for his stay here since he was granted with a balikb ayan visa but i just want to be sure if there is still any fee that i would have to pay like immigration fee or taxes for his stay here. and if i do have to pay anything where do i pay for it? thanks ^_^

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