Philippines 9A Tourist Visa – stricter enforcement of regulations

Philippines 9A Tourist Visa - BI Counter

Philippines 9A Tourist Visa can be easily acquired. The map shows the different kinds of visa and the allowed duration of stay in the Philippines. Visitors from the yellow and blue marked countries do even not need a visa for their vacation. They get either a 30 or 59 days free visa waiver. Tourists with the 30 days waiver can extend for another 29 days. This waiver extension costs currently (July 2019) PHP 3,130. Nationals of grey marked countries need to apply for a visa before travelling. If somebody wants to stay longer than these 59 days in the Philippines, then he/she has to apply for a Philippines 9A Tourist Visa.

Philippines 9A Tourist Visa - Visa Map 

The “permanent” tourists

Many expatriates living almost permanently in the Philippines do only have a tourist visa. They repeatedly extend their visa by 2 or 6 months. At the end of a period of 3 years or 36 months they leave the Philippines for one or several days and then come back. This is called a visa run. With their new entry the whole procedure starts again. Thailand has similar rules. If interested read this article in the Thailand Life.

These “permanent” tourists either do not want or cannot afford an immigrant visa of category 13 or the famous SRRV. More information can be found on our visa page.

You cannot work with this Tourist Visa neither as an employee nor as a freelancer.

Abuse of Philippines 9A Tourist Visa

Unfortunately the Bureau of Immigration (BI) found that more and more foreigners come to work here without the correct employment visa (9G). This is why holders of a tourist visa are intensely screened  when arriving in ports and airports. Also when applying for an extension they often must face a huge series of questions and additional inquiries.

At the Mactan-Cebu airport an acquaintance of mine, 48 years old, was first refused to enter the Philippines because of his many extension stamps since 2011. The BI supervisor then gave him gratefully the usual visa waiver stamp. But the officer asked him to acquire another visa for permanent residence.

Another person in my circles was refused to enter and had to leave. He then went back to Singapore. There at the local branch of his Bank in Europe (UBS), he could get the needed account statements that proof that he does not need to work abroad. The bank letters had to be approved by the Philippine embassy in Singapore. The embassy also gave him a 59 days tourist visa.


What visa can I get to live here?

Getting married

The easiest way to receive a permanent or immigrant visa is to get married with a Philippines citizen. You then either get a Balikbayan stamp valid for a year or you can apply for an Immigrant Visa by Mariage (13A).

For a foreign couple this option does not exist 😉 . For all those who do not want or who cannot get married, two other options stay open: Apply for a Quota Visa (13) or a Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV).

The Quota Visa (13)

Nationals of countries which have diplomatic relations with the Philippines and grant the Filipinos the same immigration privileges under the principle of reciprocity which shall not be in excess of fifty (50) of any one nationality or without nationality for any one calendar year. (Official text by BI). 
It is rather difficult to receive such a visa. But it is worth to inquire at the Bureau of Immigration.

The Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV)

This visa is a special non-immigrant visa for foreign nationals who would like to make the Philippines their second home or investment destination. Whether you are 35 or 65, the Philippine Retirement Authority offers different SRRV options depending on the background and needs of the retiree applicant. Please see here or here.

If you think to open a business or invest your money here, then you may apply for a

Treaty Trader’s or Treaty Investor’s Visa (9D)

A foreign national of the United States of America (USA), Japan and Germany who is entering the Philippines solely to carry on trade or commerce pursuant to an existing treaty of commerce and navigation OR a foreigner who seeks admission for the purpose of developing and directing the operations of an enterprise in the Philippines

And if you find a company that hires foreigners for their special skills, you may get a

Pre-arranged Employment Visa (9G)

This visa is for foreign nationals who are proceeding to Philippines to engage in any lawful occupation, whether for wages or salary or other forms of compensation. 

Last remarks belonging to the Philippines 9A Tourist Visa

  • Older people (60+ years) are much less screened than younger ones. The reason is simple, old-timers do much less come to the Philippines to work. They enjoy the fruits of their former active life in a wonderful place.
  • If you are younger but do not need to work here, carry a verified/certified proof of your wealth with you when passing at immigration.
  • Do not work with a 9A Tourist Visa! You need only a jealous neighbour or workmate and you get in troubles.


Travelling with this bus is absolutely no pleasure and it could be your last journey within the Philippines.

Read more information about visas on our special visa page. It is updated whenever the BI issues new directives.


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16 Responses

  1. Hopefully they will begin some enforcement of the Tourist visa abuse. I feel there needs to be a crack down on the eternal tourist here working and thereby taking jobs from Philippine legitimate residents.

    • waebi says:

      Hi Robert,
      I fully agree with you.
      On “silent gardens” we do not interfere with politics. This is why I did not clearly state the countries that are most touched.
      FYI they are nearby, somewhere north to east of the Philippines

      On the other side I know an owner of a dive base who opened the business having only a 9A tourist visa.
      He provides work to about 10 indigenous people. The salaries he pays are really honest.

      It’s a hard job for the BI to separate black and white sheep.

      Cheers, waebi

    • Cristine says:

      Hi Greetings to all,
      Im Cristine from Philippines, i am married a Syrian Citizen in abroad. what should i do to my husband so He can stay long with me as a permanent residence.When he will come in Philippines we are planning to have our own business.Hope you can give me a idea what should i do.

      • waebi says:

        Hi Cristine,

        Thank you for your message and your inquiry.
        As you are married, your foreign husband can apply for a 13a visa.
        He will first get a one year probatory 13a visa. After this year he will get his definitive 13 a visa.
        Condition is that there will be no case filed against him at any court in the Philippines and nobody opposes against this visa.

        More difficult will be to bring him here now. If you cannot travel with him, he won’t get a Balikbayan stamp.
        Therefore he needs copies of your mariage papers and apply for a 9a visa at the Philippine embassy in his country.
        With the 9a visa he will be able to come here. Once he is here, he’ll to have to apply for a 13a visa immediately.
        This can be done at the nearest office of the Bureau of Immigration where you live.
        Here you find the list of offices of the Bureau of Immigration:

        Please see also the respective visa page on the website of the Bureau of immigration.

        Cheers, waebi

  2. I know many expats on tourist visas who work under the guise of their spouse or gf. There are a few more that I know have not been out of the country in over 3 years. The BI is gonna catch up with these folks sooner or later.

  3. Philippines embassy not so strict on having a visa. Love to go there, the places and people.

    • waebi says:

      It isn’t a problem to get an initial 9A visa. The problems can occur when repeatedly extending the tourist visa. Then administration starts to ask questions about the sources of income.

      Cheers, waebi

  4. I’ve been living in the Philippines under balikbayan status for almost 10 years. I hope none of this will affect that status. I rather enjoy living here, except for the brownouts.

  5. Virgo says:

    How to report someone like this who put up a business under the gf name and abuses the gf after he started the business he get another one new gf just for pleasure since hes earning already from the business he put up from the help of the long time gf

    • waebi says:

      Hi Virgo,
      We do not support denunciation. But if you need to report, then get in contact with your nearest BI office.
      Cheers, waebi

  6. Sam F says:

    Hi. I’ve been in a relationship with my filipina gf since may, I’m planning on going there late next year, after i save more money for the passport and ticket, its very hard for her to be able to come here, (australia) so ill like to go there and stay for as long as i can, extending my visa every 2 or 6 months, i wont have work when i go there, but ill be staying with my gf and she works 5 days a week and will be able to support me financially, also i cant get the marriage visa, as she’s still tecnicly married from her ex from many years ago and hasn’t got the money to pay for the annulment there, will i have any trouble staying with her? I only want to be with her and nothing else, i feel worried reading this cause im only young still 27, but i want to be there with the love of my life, will i be refused later on, i cant apply for any permament visa it seems, but my reason of staying is to live with my partner there.

    • waebi says:

      Hi Sam,
      Welcome to the Philippines. At your first entry with a 30 days free visa-waiver you won’t have problems.
      Also on your 29 days paid extension of the visa-waiver you won’t have problems because you do not yet have many entry/exit stamps in your passport.
      Also extension won’t be a big problem. 2 months extensions are easy to get. 6 months are also available with no major problem during your first long
      stay here. The second 36 months afer a short leave would be more difficult.
      Your story sounds rather incredible in my ears. Either you or your GF or both wear pink sunglasses. I know Filipinas from 20 to 60+ years. I never heard
      from them such a story. Usually it is the foreign BF who brings in the money.
      You two might be the exception that confirms the rule.

      As downunder, we have a skilled persons visa program. If you have skills that are looked for in the Philippines, apply for a category 13 Quota Visa. It is restricted
      to 50 visas per country who accepts the same policy.

      You also may work in a call-center. The Philippines are the center of world’s call-center industry. This would depend on where you’ll live with your GF.

      Wishing you good luck and of course a Happy New Year.
      Cheers, waebi

  7. juls says:

    korean tourist visa is now allow?

    • waebi says:

      Sorry, currently no 9a visa available.
      Even most of other visa holders are not allowed to enter the Philippines.
      Next review of regulations is expected by April 20, 2021

      Cheers, waebi

  8. Wayne Featherstone says:

    HI,, A question. I am Australian and have been coming to the Philippines for 13 years. Usually for anywhere between 2-6 months at a time
    I have a for want of a better word, Girlfriend and our 8year old born in Philippines. He is a dual citizen and they have been to Australia twice for 3 month stays. This time here due to Covid 19 I have been here in Negros for almost 16 months, living off my Aussie Pension.
    My question is: Is there another Visa I can apply for next time ? I want to spend alot of time here without having to keep travelling to the nearest BOI to apply for extensions.

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