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Types of Visas to Live in the Philippines

Many readers here are looking to move to and live in the Philippines. I am sure many of you have researched the hows and whys of moving here but I thought it might be of interest to those who has not.

The information I will give will be as accurate as I can find, but realize the laws here change and some of my research might be out dated. So I suggest you verify this information yourself before making the big plunge.

Citizens of the US, most European and Asian Countries can enter the Philippines as a tourist with just a passport for 21 days as long as their passport is valid for 6 months from their date of arrival. Also they must have valid tickets for their return travel.

What I did was to visit a Philippine Consulate and purchased a Tourist Visa good for one year, even though I needed to extend my visa every 59 days at the Bureau of Immigration (BI) here. They have now increased stay here for 16 months and can also be extended to 2 full years as long as you file with the BI before you reach the 16 months here. This is because they have to send the request to Manila for approval. After you reach the end of your extensions, you must leave the country and return showing your exit stamp and the stamps of the visiting country when you return.

The 2 options when you first travel here would be as Tourist or Balikbayan. There are others such as a work visa, student visa, and missionary visa and investment visas. I will not get into this since most readers are looking to just move here. I do believe you can file for the Retirement visa prior to moving here, but I will explain as if you’re already here in the Philippines.

A Balikbayan is if you’re married already to a Philippine Citizen with a valid Philippine passport. You must arrive together and have with you a valid Marriage Certificate. This will give you (1) year of stay and can be extended to 16 months.

Once you’re here and you would like to remain and not have to travel outside the country every year and a half to 2 years and you get tired of going to BI every other month to file an extension and pay the fees there is 2 options I know of. One is marrying a Filipina and filing for a 13(a) Permanent Residency Visa or file for a Retirement Visa.

For the 13(a) Permanent Residency Visa you first have to be married to a Filipina or Filipino of you’re a female visitor. After you are married, and your marriage is registered at the NSO (National Statistic Office) you go to BI and file. Once approved you will get a 1 year Probationary Residency. About 2 months before the year is over you have to re-file. After you are approved, you have permanent residency. Then you only have to go to BI once a year during the months of January and February for their “Annual Audit” where you pay a small fee.

The other option is the Special Resident Retiree Visa (SRRV). With this you do not have to be married. There are different requirements for different age groups and if you are receiving a pension. There is also a requirement to invest an amount of money into an approved Bank Time Deposit.

The requirements are as follows:
1.       With Pension – 50 years. Old and above – the required time deposit is US$10, 000.00 plus a monthly pension of US$800.00 for a single applicant and     US$1,000.00 for couple
2.       Without Pension
o        35 to 49 years old – US$50, 000.00 time deposit
o        50 years old and above – US$20, 000.00 time deposit
o        Former Filipino Citizens (at least 35 years old, regardless of the number of dependents – US$1,500.00)
o        Ambassadors of foreign countries who served and retired in the Philippines, current and former staff members of international organizations including     ADB (at least 50 years old) – US$1,500.00
3.       A resident retiree can bring with him, without additional deposit, his spouse and a child who is unmarried and below 21 years old or if the spouse is not joining, two (2) children (provided they are unmarried and under 21 years of age.) Additional children with the same qualifications may also be allowed to join the principal retiree provided there is an additional deposit of US$15,000.00 per child. The said time deposit however, is subject the same and conditions with that of the principal deposit. This does not apply to former Filipino Citizens.

After (30) days of receiving your SRRV you can convert your time deposit into another form of investment

A retiree can choose to invest their required deposit through the following means:
a.    Purchase, acquisition and ownership of a condominium unit
b. Long-term lease of house and lot, condominium or townhouse for a period not shorter than twenty (20) years.
c. Purchase, acquisition and ownership of golf or country club shares.

I hope this information is useful for those planning to move here in the future. Also feel free to ask me for any assistance regarding this or any other matter moving here.
For information about the SRRV Visa you can visit here:

Most forms from the Philippine Government are avaliable online in PDF format to be printed. If you would them converted to a file that can be filled out on your computer, saved and emailed I will be willing to convert them for you.

30 Responses to “Types of Visas to Live in the Philippines”

  1. maria says:

    hi bruce
    i really appreciate this post here. the paperwork requirements for visiting the philippines is kinda confusing for me now. i do have some questions and first, i would like to thank you for you patience and answers.
    i am a filipina. i have been here in america for 32 years out of my thirty nine. the last time i visited the philippines was ’89. so its been a long time, thats the reason for my questions that to some others might seem so basic. i dont have dual citizenship, just american citizenship. planning to visit philippines, so my questions are:

    1) what was the advantage for you going to the philippine consolate(in florida since you were here in florida?)and purchasing a tourist visa good for one year even though you needed to visit the BI there to extend your visa every 59 days? since you purchased the tourist visa already, were you charged another fee while at BI there?

    2) past 21 days you can still stay in philippines, then by 59 days or earlier(?) report to a BI office and pay a fee so how much would that fee be? and then if you wish to stay longer, keep going back every 59 days for 16 months?

    3) i have an american passport. since my appearance is filipino, will my passport be stamped balikbayan?

    4) if my passport is stamped balikbayan, do balikbayans still have to go to a BI every 59 days and pay a fee?

    balikbayans are like everyone else that can stay there for 16 months then exit and return if desire then do the same thing again?

    thanks again bruce and everyone who reads my questions and answers encase bruce doesn’t know.


    • Bruce says:


      This is the information I found:

      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 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.

      You can get all the information here

      When you come to visit, if your near Davao, I would enjoy meeting you.

  2. Al says:

    Important tip:

    Once you have married your Filipina under Philippine law, do not submit your papers through BI, it will take that 1 year and approvals=waste time and money and the more steps involved, the more chance for “something” to go wrong, so to speak.

    Go back to your country and file it through the Philippine consulate/embassy and if all your requirements are in order (prior to going back, make sure you have Philippines dependant requirements with you, marriage certificate etc), you have your visa within a few days (even the same day on less busy consulates) and upon entering the country you are a resident (you will enter the country on a 13(a) visa. You simply need to present yourself to the BI to get fingerprinted and other data for them to issue the I-CARD.

    Then, yearly as Bruce stated January to February (first 60 days of the year), you simply need to do the annual report at BI and pay 310php.

    • Bruce says:

      Yes it is faster getting residency or a 13a in the States, but not everyone wants to go back to the States. The thing to remember here, if you have a civil ceremony, ask for your license to be expedited to NSO, otherwise it can take 6 months.

  3. william burton says:

    hi im wanting to liv in the philipines with mi filopine wife maybe in 10 years but 10 years ago i hav drug charges no jail time just conviction so will this stop me getting permanent visa i been to philipines 4 times now 21 day trip with no problems —sorry i gave rong email befor—

  4. william burton says:

    can mi old drug charges stop me getting The balikbayan privilege

  5. william burton says:

    grom wat i read the The balikbayan privilege is somthing u ask for as u hand your passport over to the officer as u get to the immagration office as u walk thru the aport am i right

  6. william burton says:

    ok thanks for that iv been to cebu 2 times now to meet mi fiancee she a very nice woman doesnt ask for a thing from me we will be doing the visa in bout 3 weeeks time thanks once again mate reeely very thankfull

  7. M.Switzer says:

    Is it possible to live comfortably in the Philipines on US$2,000 a month?

    I lost everything in the recent crash and burn of the economy so I am reduced to living on my military disability. I know a few people who have gone to the Philipines to stay, but I wanted to hear from someone that is actually there, if it is possible?

    • Bruce says:

      M. Switzer,
      It depends on what you consider comfortable, your needs and level you want to live. $2000 is a decent amount as long as you are not chasing and buying company often and eating out i the higher “imported food” restaurants too often.

  8. M.Switzer says:

    I do not need to have a lot of high end name brand things to be comfortable, and I love local markets over eating out anyway. I am trying to find the best area to move honestly. Big cities do not appeal to me other than the needed travel there to take care of business, and I would rather swim my day away, or read my news on the internet at night. So far, Davao and Cebu interest me, but a few people keep suggesting Makati area?

    Any advice from you would be greatly appreciated.

    • Bruce says:

      For me Makati is too crowded of a city even if they have more cosmopolitan life style there. I never been to Cebu so I cannot answer. All I can advise it try each area for a few months.

      • Big P says:

        For Mr. Switzer

        I would recomend Olongapo area. Ten minutes to get out of the city. The old subic bay base is now a free port and has about anything you might start missing in the way of U.S. goods and many English speaking people. Plus good local markets.

  9. charles combs says:

    sir , i am a very lucky disabled american veteran. 61 years of age.
    I want to move and live in manila.
    My monthly income is over 2,000 a month from the department of veterans affairs.

    I am interested in the SRRV visa to stay there and live.
    Exactly what do I need to do to obtain one

    sure would appreciate your help sir,
    I am a very lonely and unhappy little guy here in the USA only 5’3. please help me

    charles A Combs

    • Bruce says:

      I emailed you directly because I did not feel your life and my responses are for general view. Since I never filed for a SRRV I do not know all that is needed.

  10. Kelly Beatson says:

    I am a 70% disabled veteran-collecting 100% unemployability-

    I beleive after bills-I have about $3000.00 a month available-

    I want to stay in the phillipines about 3 months at a time.

    My question is-can I rent a cheap simple, clean, airconditioned place for a couple hundred a month?

    Are the phillipines safe? I have been to japan, hong kong and korea while I was in the navy.

    SHould i go over and apply for a longer visa once i get there?-and just take my passport-its good until nov 2012

    I live in pensecola-what are some cheap ways to fly back and forth as I have children.

    Should I try and find monthly rentals? or sign a yearly lease.

    How can you stay away from U.S. priced areas?

    any advice on getting mail and prescriptions from the va?

    • Bruce says:

      You have a lot of questions and tough for me to answer. I would suggest renting at an Apartell and get a good rate then rent a house. If your planning to be there for 3 months at a time, then a renewal of a tourist visa would be best.

  11. homer says:

    i just got here one month ago and did my 21 days free and just today went to BI and got the 38 additional days for 3,030php. I want to stay in PH for a long time and become a perminent resident. I dont want to get married just to do so, and I want to find the cheapest way. Can you help me?

    I have learned that if i do the tourist visa thing is will cost about 1,000 USD for two years of stay in PH and then i must leave and do everything again.

    I hear about the quota visa as well as the investor visa, plus a another way when u employ at least 10 filipinas and get a visa for being a employer. But what is the best cheapest way.

    I am 26 so i still got 9 years before i can do the retainment thing which seams the best and easiest.

    what do you suggest?

    thanks Homer

    • Bruce says:


      It is 16 months or if submit a request to BIR for an extension to 24 months. I do not know which is cheapest and depends if you want to invest or start a business. No matter which, someone will look for palm to be greased to get things done.

  12. shortman says:

    what is the difference between Immigrant visa… non-immigrant visa… and tourist visa…who is to pay at the immigration office prior to march 1….

    • Bruce says:

      An Immigrant Visa is for permanent residency where a non-immigrant is for a specified time. A tourist visa is a non-immigrant same as a work visa.
      If your asking about the annual audit, any visa holder needs to go pay.

  13. mark says:

    hope you have some incite for me. my wife and i relocated to Philippines about 2 yrs ago she’s a dual citizen. we have been coming to p.i. for over 14yrs and i receive the BB visa 1 yr and make sure we leave before the year over quick hope where ever. now that were retired and i invested way to much in my house over $200,000 so now the wife want’s to go back to USA but i would prefer to stay hear what kind of visa would you recommend can you give me incite about multi visa i guess a new wife will come soon LOL thanks

  14. Jim says:

    Hi Bruce,

    I got a lot of good info from your blog but i have a few different questions. I am a retired American, 68 years old, now living in China. I have a Chinese wife. We also have 2 dogs and 1 cat. What in your opinion is the best strategy for us to start with, since we plan to move to the Philippines. What type of visa do you reccomend we both apply for? We plan on a long term stay with the option of permanent residency.

    Thanks in advance….

  15. Robert says:

    I am living in the US and have a Filipino wife. I am thinking of moving to the Philippines.
    I’d be ok but I have a problem.
    I have a 23 year old son(US) who is disabled (high functioning, he takes care of himself just can’t work). He would have to come with us. What visa would be available to him? He has assets (owns half a house and has a stock market portfolio) and Social Security Survivors benefits (His US mother passed away)

  16. Cristopher says:

    I have quite a few questions. I am definetly thinking about coming to PI and probably looking at going to school before anything else. I am currently stationed in Japan (US NAVY) and looking at possibly getting out in April. There are quite a few things I need to do but and I am asking alot of different people.

    Is there another way I could contact u more directly and often.

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