Nationals of over 150 countries do not need a visa to visit the Philippines. On arrival they receive a free Visa Waiver.
Tourists can now stay 30 days for free with this Visa Waiver. It is given to them at the immigration desk in ports and airports.
The extension of the Visa Waiver for another 29 days costs PHP 3,030.00.
Visa and Visa Waiver can be extended at any office of the Bureau of Immigration. See also here Procedures for foreigners
When we started "Silent Gardens" ten years ago, the website of the Bureau of Immigration had been just a collection of documents. In the last years this website became a real source of almost up to date information. We strongly recommend to read this legal source.
People from most European countries and the USA can enter the Philippines without a Visa and will be granted an entry permit (called a visa waiver) for 30 days. This permit may be extended at any Immigration Office in the Philippines for another 29 days and thereafter every two months for up to 16 months in total. Please read the section about Visa Extension for more details.
The list of all countries whose citizens are allowed 30 days without visa is here.
Countries with special regulations are: Afghanistan, Algeria, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Sudan, Syria, Palestine, Yemen, Taiwan, Hongkong, Macau, East Timor.
The Bureau of Immigration reminds foreigners that possession of a Philippine entry visa is not a guarantee that its holder will be automatically admitted into the country. Read more here ...
Philippines Embassies abroad are also issuing different kinds of Tourist Visa (e.g. the 9A) for the Philippines:
Two Philippines arrival stamps
The stamp shows the arrival date, the flight number and the date of expire of the visa-waiver. If you have a visa from an embassy abroad with more than 30 days of stay, please verify the expiry date on the stamp. corresponds to the duration of the visa. Often the immigration officers do not change the date on their stamp and so does not corresponds to the duration of the visa.
A Philippines departure stamp
The stamp shows the departure date and the flight number. If you plan to come back to the Philippines, make sure that the stamp is readable. You will need the stamp's date on your next arrival.
3 months Tourist Visa, 1 entry: EUR 39.00
6 months Tourist Visa, multiple entry: EUR 78.00
12 months tourist Visa, multiple entry: EUR 117.00
Prices for Visas are taken from the Philippine Embassy in Germany but should be similar in all other countries.
In Norway the following visa fees apply:Single ENTRY valid for three (3) months NOK 210.00
If you are married to a Filipino citizen, you may ask for a Balikbayan Stamp in your passport at the Immigration point where you want to enter the Philippines. A Balik Bayan stamp is good for 1 year and is free of charge. You have to bring you marriage certificate in English, your Filipino Spouse and you have to ask the Immigration Officer for it. Please read under Balikbayan Stamp for more details!
Also, if you are legally married to a Filipino you may apply for a Permanent Resident Visa 13A for the Philippines, as stated in the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, Section 13. Details are here: Resident Visa
If you are already retired and/or at least 35 years old, you may also apply for a Special Resident Retirees Visa from the PRA ( Philippine Retirement Authority). This Visa is not only for retirees, but also for investors and other people who just want to live in the Philippines and can prove their financial status.
An old 9a Tourist visa established in Geneva
It seems that you now can extend your stay in the Philippines for up to 36 months without having to leave the country. But in the last months friends reported to us, that you are questioned when you have lots of extension stamps in your passport and that extensons above 16 months need additional information. We strongly recommend to read the visa pages of the Bureau of Immigration.
Most foreigners enter the Philippines without any Visa and they get a stamp, called a Visa Waiver, in their passports which is good for a 30 days stay. If someone wants to extend this stay, one would have to go the nearest Immigration Office and get the extension good for another 29 days. The cost for this first extension is 3,030 Pesos.
When you are already 59 days in the Philippines and want to stay a bit longer, then your regular extension series starts. You have to show up at an office of the Bureau of Immigration a couple of days before your Visa Waiver expires.
If you have to go to the Immigration Office, make sure to wear long pants, a nice shirt and shoes. Otherwise you might not be serviced, some Immigration offices (Cebu) might not even let you in.
Or, come now - pay later!
*Fees are updated as of 06 March 2014 and may change without prior notice. (Official text from BI)
IMPORTANT: When you extend your visa keep the receipt from the BI office. You'll need it for your next extension and for your ECC. Without receipt no ECC! See also here.
The old extension stamp
The new extension stickers
And a new fee ... 100 pesos only!
Update May 19,2016: You may now get extensions of 6 months in many BI field offices. The 6 months extension costs PHP 9,0000.
(The very small Butuan BI field office delivers 6 months extensions. Thanks Frank for the information).
IMPORTANT: You can only get two 6 months extensions within the allowed maximum of 36 months. All other extensions are 2 months only. The first 6 months extension can only be obtained after the initial free 30 days and the following 29 days.
After this 59 days you'll get a Tourist Visa and an ACR-I card.
Standard validity of the visa extension is 2 months, but you now can get 6 months also.
The 2 months extension costs:
The 6 months extension costs PHP 9,000.00
Next extension for 2 months
By now you are already 6 months in the Philippines and you have spent PHP 13,080.00 for visa fees, and it goes on:
Extension after 6 months for another two months
Next extension for another two months:
Last extension for 2 months, to a total of 12 months:
The total amount for one year's extensions is PHP 25,430.00 only! This is why expatriates often call the Philippines: Fee-lippines!
Consider two 6 months extensions if you stay for a year. This would cut your expenses.
Since 2015 you can extend your Visa for up to 36 month in total. After 16 month however you should make a Visa Run or try to get another extension for up to 24 months from the "Chef of the Immigration Bureau for Regulations". This might become too complicated, so it might be easier to make a Visa Run or to try to get a permanent resident visa.
Dresscode of the Bureau of Immigration
The Head Office of the Bureau of Immigration
Bureau of Immigration Detention Center in Bicutan, Taguig, also called "Café carré"
Currently the Bureau of Immigration runs a program of citizen awareness. Any Filipino or Filipina can send a text (SMS) to BI and denounce a foreigner suspect of illegal immigration or overstay.
You won't like to see your picture (in the original it is clear) in press and on TV-screens.
Many expatriates who live in the Philippines with either an extended visa-waiver or a 9a tourist visa prefer to travel abroad for a day or two instead of paying a lot of money just for a stamp in the passport.
A good moment for a trip abroad is before the end of the 6th month and before the end of the first year.
As you know exactly when these expiry dates will be, you may book a promo flight already months before. Preferred "Visa Run" destinations are Kota Kinabalu, Bangkok and Hongkong.
The Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) I-Card is requested from any foreign person (called alien) who stays more than the 59 days. This means that tourists with a 9A visa are requested to have an ACR-I card issued, when they apply for a visa extension after the 38 days extension..
The ACR-I cards are only available in some offices of the Bureau of Immigration. Please inquire here!
Processing time is about 2 weeks! You will have to get your card at the BI.
The advantage of this ACR-I card is that you can open a bank account, register a car or a motorbike or even get a driver license without being a permanent resident.
The ACR I-Card is needed to get and the Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC), and serves as Re-entry Permit (RP) and Special Return Certificate (SRC) of the holder upon payment of the required fees.
Since July 16, 2015 new ACR-I cards in different colors are issued. Long stay tourists (more than 59 days) get a white ACR-I card.
New ACR-I cards
The easiest and (initially ;-) )the cheapest way to get a long term visa for the Philippines, is the Balikbayan Stamp in your Passport. This stamp is good for 1 year and can be extended at least once for another 6 months.
To get a Balikbayan Stamp in your Passport on arrival, you must be married to a Filipina/Filipino. You must present an English translation of your marriage certificate and your Filipina wife or Filipino husband must be together with you at the point of immigration.
Most important: You have to ask the Immigration officer for it, they won't give it to you automatically.
The immigration officer is not obliged to issue a Balikbayan Stamp even if you meet all the requirements. Nevertheless, it is rarely denied. The best of it: It's totally free of charge
The Balikbayan Stamp is available for direct relatives of Filipino citizens and former Filipinos who have changed their citizenship to another country.
If your Filipino husband or wife still has a valid Philippines Passport, he or she doesn't need a Visa or stamp in their Passports of course.
If you are legally married with a Philippines citizen, you may apply for the permanent Resident Visa (13A) as stated of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, Section 13. You must meet the following requirements:
After the application is submitted, it may take several weeks or even month before you will finally receive your Resident Visa. After the first application, your Resident Visa will be granted for only one year.
After one year you'll have to submit another application but in a more simple way and the Visa then will be good for 10 years, before it needs to be extended again.
You can apply for the Resident Visa (13A) at the Immigration Offices in Manila, Cebu and Davao City. You may also ask for advice and help at any other Immigration Office in smaller cities in the Philippines.
The Balikbayan stamp
Another way to get a permanent residence visa for the Philippines, is the Special Resident Retiree's Visa or SRRV . This Visa does not depend on whether you are married to a Filipino citizen or not, like the 13A Visa but it is based on a money deposit in a accredited bank in the Philippines.
The Philippines advertise this kind of visa with some advantages such as: Exemption from Customs Duties & Taxes for the importation of personal effects of up to USD 7,000.00, Exemption from Travel Tax, Exemption from the Exit Clearance and Re-Entry Permits, Exemption from the Immigration ACR-I Card, and from annual reporting. The holder of an SRRV has also the privilege to pass through the diplomatic channel at the immigration at the airport.
If you are interested in an SRRV, then we recommend to carefully read the website of the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA).
The famous SRRV and the corresponding ID
Every foreigner who has been for more than 6 months in the Philippines, will need to get an Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC) before leaving. This clearance can only be obtained in the BI offices in Manila, Cebu and Davao. A fee of about PHP 1,210 shall be collected for the ECC.
Those who have an SRRV are exempt of this certificate!
To get your Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC), you have to bring:
The procedure (In Cebu-City you need 40 minutes):
In the Manila Head Office it may take you one and a half day to get the ECC. And then it's really frustrating when nobody at the airport asks for this paper. Keep smiling!
Waiting a very long time in the BI Head Office in Manila's Intramuros
Fingerprints: A lot of ink and nothing to clean your fingers
You should also check the address list on the website of the Bureau of Immigration. Unfortunately none of the lists is up to date, neither theirs nor ours! Many phone numbers are cellphone numbers and many e-mail addresses are private 'gmail' or 'yahoo' addresses. If you want to help us, please inform us about address or phone number changes."