Is enforcement on the way?

The law has been in place for years.  As a tourist, when you enter the Philippines, you are required to have an on-going ticket, showing that you intend to leave the country.

A lot of people think that you need a “return ticket” or a “round trip” ticket.  This is incorrect.  You are not required to have a ticket going back to where you came from.  You are supposed to have any ticket that takes you out of the Philippines, though.  You can have a ticket to Thailand, Malaysia, wherever, but you are supposed to have some ticket taking you out of the Philippines.

As I said, this law has been on the books for many years, but it has been only loosely enforced.  In fact, in my experience, it has been enforced only from time to time.  Usually, they don’t ask anything about an ongoing ticket upon your entry to the country, and it really is not an issue.  That said, in most cases, you really needed to have a ticket, in case they enforced it.

Philippine Airlines tickets
Philippine Airlines tickets

For quite a while now, much of the enforcement on this policy has not been directly on the passenger, but rather on the airline.  Let’s say that you are flying in on Cathay Pacific Airlines.  When you checked in for your flight in Los Angeles, going to Manila.  When you checked in at Los Angeles, Cathay Pacific is supposed to ask you if you have an ongoing ticket from the Philippines.  If they forget to ask, and you don’t have any ongoing ticket, then Philippine Immigration will (if they are enforcing the law) not allow you to enter the country upon your arrival in Manila.  At this point, Cathay Pacific would be fined by the Bureau of Immigration for not following the law, and Cathy Pacific would be liable to bring you home, at their own cost.  So, two people are penalized in this example:

  1. You – by being denied entry
  2. The airline – for allowing you to board your original flight without an on-going ticket

As I said, though, this law has been very loosely enforced.  Most of the time it is totally overlooked by the airlines and by the Bureau of Immigration officials.

Recently, GMA Network had a news story on the Internet saying that the BI is going to start fining the airlines when they bring tourists in who have no ongoing ticket.  This is what they were supposed to be doing for a long time now, but have not done so consistently.  So, are they getting ready to crack down on this requirement?  It would seem so.

So, what can you do to avoid any hassles or problems under the policy?  It’s pretty simple, really.  All you need to do is have a round trip, or ongoing ticket when you come here.  It need not be overly expensive to do that.

What is a “throw away” ticket?

One thing that is often done by foreigners staying in the Philippines on a tourist visa is that when they go on a Visa Run, they purchase a “throw away ticket.”  A throw away ticket is any cheap ticket going out of the Philippines.  They might purchase a ticket to Thailand, HK, Malaysia, or some other nearby country, this ticket is just to show authorities upon entry, then after the ticket has been shown, the ticket is just thrown away.  You can find cheap tickets to use as a throw away for very low prices if you shop around, sometimes under $50.  Check the budget carriers, most of whom fly out of Clark.

Post Author: MindanaoBob (1354 Posts)

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.

Learn a Philippine Language


  1. Donna West says

    I heard it is necessary to have a round-trip ticket when we come to the RP. I never thought about having a ticket to another place as the return ticket. I havent found any one-way tickets cheaper than round-trip tickets when I was pricing them online. I hear there are some cheap promotional tickets to china and also cheap superferry fares from RP. i am not sure rather i would be up to it to make a run in less than three weeks after i got to the phils but i would really like to go to china for a few days. that might be an opportunity. then i wouldnt have to throw away my ticket if i bought one for a destination in China. would that work? Or am I not getting the right idea here?

    • says

      Hi Donna – You don’t have to leave withing 3 weeks. You can extend your tourist visa up to 16 months, and at that point you have to leave for at least a day.

  2. says

    Round trip shows also your departing the country. Check with Philippine Immigration and they will inform you of the samething. Little surprised of the incorrect info you had supplied.

  3. says

    The way I understood bobs article is that a round trip ticket is appropriate to satisfy immigration but its not the only option…it can be a ticket out of the phils to another destination which might be cheaper than the round trip ticket back where to where u came from. i am sure bob will explain that.

  4. Paul Thompson says

    I can’t speak to now, but the years I was sailing, the airlines were tasked with the enforcement of the ongoing ticket rule. They by law could not sell you a ticket to the Philippines unless you had or purchased a ticket out (You’re correct, the where didn’t matter). No one, once I was in the Philippines ever checked me after landing to see if I had one. Sailors would buy a open ticket from Manila to the cheapest destination from Manila, use it a couple of times a year, and leave it on a counter in the airport when it was close to expiring. The Pinoy with an American Passport in front of me was not subject to the same rule, even though we both lived and had family in the RP.

  5. Ed Toth says

    I entered the Philippines on Friday, August 10th, evening and was admitted with no problems. The customs agent did not ask about a onward ticket, which I did not have. I did mention that I would be applying for the SRRV the following week and had all the paper work with me. He granted a 21 tourist visa. I was lucky.

    • says

      Hi Ed – Yeah, that’s the point of the article.. it is loosely enforced, and has been for years. The word on the street, though, is that enforcement is on the way.

  6. Marcel says

    Bob you can find “throw away ticket” cheaply, however, taxes on top of it multiply initial low price…
    I wonder why this recent enforcement of regulations affects outgoing flights as well.
    Due to my work schedule and the way I need to travel I quite often purchase one way tickets, although its more expensive… A month ago my wife travelled from Toronto to Manila (one way ticket) Manila to Vienna (one way ticket) and they refused her boarding unless she had a ticket for a flight leaving Europe. I had to purchase extra one way ticket from Vienna to Toronto so she would be allowed to fly (30 mins. b4 departure). In the end once EU vacation was over she ended up flying back to Manila due to our all too common changes of plans and eventually from Manila back home to Toronto.
    Only thing that saved me from wasting over $1k was that I can get full refund if ticket is cancelled writhing 24 hours.

    • says

      Hi Marcel – The price I mentioned for a throw away ticket includes taxes and such.

      I don’t know what happened about that flight to Vienna, but it was not a Philippine policy that caused that. As long as you have a flight leaving the Philippines, they don’t care after that. Perhaps Austria has a similar policy, I really don’t know about that.

  7. John says

    Bob, I like the idea of a “throwaway ticket”. But if you start your trip in the united states heading for the Philippines(and I can’t understand why anyone would want to head anywhere else..hahahaha!) and the airlines ask do you have a return ticket or a ticket “out of the Philippines” and you show them one for…say…Bangkok. Wouldn’t they also ask do you have a ticket out of there too?

    • says

      Hi John – As long as you have an ongoing ticket, they don’t care. There is no Philippine policy for an ongoing ticket for your next destination, they don’t care at all about that…. they just don’t want you staying illegally in the Philippines. 😉

  8. says

    Oh boy, Matthew..The problem is not the information that I gave, you apparently did not read it properly. I didn’t say that round trip does not count… I said that round trip is not required. Round trip is fine, but not required! Sheesh!

  9. Donna West says

    ok i am more confused now than when i started reading the article. i think i better just continue as planned and buy round trip tickets.

    • says

      Hi Donna – I am sorry, I was not trying to confuse you. Let’s go step by step and lay out what the law says:

      1. You come to the Philippines, you must have some ticket that takes you out of the country.
      2. When you enter, you get a visa that is good for 21 days.
      3. Before the 21 days expires, you can extend your visa up to 59 days (an additional 38 days).
      4. Before the visa extension expires, you can extend for an additional 59 days.
      5. You can keep doing this until the point where you have been in the Philippines a total of 16 months, at which point you must leave, even for just a day.
      6. You can go to China (as you suggested) and come back to the Philippines again a day or a few days later. Now, start back at #1 again, and you are good to go.

      • Donna West says

        ok im ok with all that. I think i already had all that part figured out . but, what i dont understand is why i wouldnt have to use that ticket to china within 21 days because when i purchase the ticket wouldnt it have to be used within 21 days or should i purchase an open end ticket? which if i did i am sure i wouldnt get a promotional deal on it then.

        • says

          Of course, you are free to travel any time you wish to travel, Donna. All I am saying is that you are under no requirement to travel within 21 days. If you choose to travel after 21 days, it really would be voluntary and have nothing to do with this article. If you do go to China after 21 days, you will again need an ongoing ticket when you return again.

  10. jonnijon says

    When I moved to the Philippines Singapore Air asked to see my onward ticket as I had only purchased a single from them. I had an Air Asia ticket to fly from Clark to Borneo, it was very very cheap about 35 GBP.

    • says

      Same here. I’m paranoid about this stuff so I made sure to have a printed boarding pass from Air Asia, cheapest tickets I found online. My “throw away” ticket only cost me $29, flying out of Clark as you said.

      Also.. when I boarded at LAX in California with Cathay Pacific for my flight into Cebu, they made sure to ask for my Ongoing Ticket. I’m guessing I’d not have been allowed on board without so, that $29 was worth every penny so that I could board my non-refundable flight. :)

      • JUSTIN says

        mine was 40.00 American dollars Manila Philippians to out for inter nation charge if u using debit card. if u have fed bank and master card logo like USAA Ur good to go..

        Retired us army life….

  11. Mitch says

    We (wife and I) are traveling wheels up in exactly 100 hours…… on a pair of one way tickets, because I took the time to get my 13a stamp in my passport, and she has both, US and Philippines passports (duel citizen). When I was buying my tickets, I was on the phone with Philippine Air Operations, who put me on hold to call the Los Angeles consulat to conform that I (wife and I) would be fine traveling on a oneway ticket. I even got the name and phone number of the on duty Philippine Air operations manager for the night we leave. I DON’T WANT ANY SURPISES AT THY GATE!! WE just sold the last of everything we own that isn’t going in an LBC box eairly next week. A total of about 52 boxes, ugh. Got a 10 pass Limo picking us up for the 90 min ride to the airport! Going out in style!!!! BUT, will be in a Jeepney after we land though! lol…. Time is going by so fast with so many little things to take care of……. R/ Mitch

    • Scott Fortune says

      Mitch!!! So, you applied for the 13A here in the U.S.? Where at? I know they have a Philippines Embassy in Chicago. Do I need to go there, or simply apply online? This is something I have yet to do, and was curious if it is easier to have it done here in the U.S. or wait until I get there. And if I get there and apply, will I need an outgoing ticket even though I’m applying to stay there as soon as I arrive?

      Any help appreciated! BTW – Still sick with envy about your move!! Mien is coming sooner than I realize though, I am sure!


      • Mitch says

        In all it took about 3-4 weeks to put together all the requirments: medical / police clearance etc/etc/etc. Not sure if it is ez’er in PI, I just thought to get it done ahead of time. Check the consulate web site for requirments, I even went to the Los Angeles consulate to make sure I was heading in the right direction as to the required paperwork. Now I have to turn in this big envolope I will hand carry to the imigration people at the Airport, and then get an appointment to go to the imgration office within 30 days of landing….. will see how it goes…. 92 hours till lift off….. or for you Paul, 109 untill we land :) lol
        r/ mitch

  12. Paul Thompson says

    Bob; (Pary two)
    In 2000 my house was finished and we had moved in (while I was at sea) I was paid off the ship in Guam and purchased a flight from Guam to Manila, plus Manila to Los Angeles. After I arrived here my wife and I decided I might as well resign and stay home. I sent my resignation letter in and it was accepted, I no longer needed my out ticket as I’d applied for permanent residence. I sent my LA ticket to the Travel Agent in Guam, who credited my Credit card with the refund. And stayed here five years while they worked on my visa without any out ticket, nor did anyone seem to care. And the rest is history!

  13. John Miele says

    Bob: I think the spotty enforcement is why there is often so much confusion about this. Someone will post online that they were refused without a ticket and someone else will say they didn’t need one. I think that confusion over the balikbayan priviledge contributes to the situation, since much of what I read is related to that.

    I will say that this year I’ve been asked for ACR on virtually every flight I’ve taken, so either the BI is putting more pressure on the airlines or that they are actually looking for tickets at passport control.

    Also note that the Philippines is not unique on the ticket out requirement. Many countries, including the schengen area, Thailand, and Indonesia, technically have the same requirement (though it also seems to be only randomly enforced in most places too)

  14. mel batten says

    Hi Bob..when i came to the philippines on the two occassions, once with Singapore airlines and once with philippine airlines and on both departures from australia, i was asked if i had a return ticket, and they checked my itinerary to make sure, as the onus is on the airlines, and i am sure they will check my itinerary with Royal Brunie when i come over in 2 weeks time..

  15. says

    Hi Bob – If you come to the Philippines by a European carrier they will insist on you having a ticket to leave the Philippines and this has always been the case in my experiance. The only exception is of course if you are a permanent resident here.

  16. corjo says

    Working for a foreighn government I am still required to have an outward ticket. Only once have we not been asked for evidence of an outward ticket. On 2 private trips I entered 21 days visa free and both times I was asked to show my ticket at Manila airport.
    I have heard that passangers who are unable to show an outward ticket are allowed to purchase one at the airline counters at Aquino, but you can not find any discount tickets there.
    If you are looking for a cheap visa run ticket then try Cebu Pacific to Vietnam or Hongkong. but they can be difficult to buy online from europe. If in U.K. try Crystal or Philippine Island connections both have philippine agents and will get you the ticket at cost if you have booked your international flight with them

    • says

      Hi Corjo – yep, once you are at NAIA you have waited too long to get a deeply discounted ticket. Cebu Pacific is just ok, but you can get much cheaper throw away tickets from people like air asia or tiger.

    • says

      Hi Corjo _ Before we came to live in the Philippines we always used Philippine Island Connections (London Office) and found them not only to have the best prices but also to book onward flights as well as hotels and transport in the event of having to stay over in Manila. I would recommend their services to anyone coming from the UK.

  17. Bob New York says

    I have always had round trip tickets. I don’t think I would be able to board in New York without Round Trip, or, some kind of forward destination ticket. I have always kept my return ticket with my passport and other papers but have never been asked to show my return or any other way out ticket. I’ll see what happens on the next visit.

    The two questions I remember always being asked is how long will I expect to be staying and where am I planning on going in The Philippines.

  18. GMurdock says

    Bob, alot of retired and active duty military who try to take space-availabile (Space-A) flights into Manila or Clark, end up in Singapore and purchase a one way ticket into the Philippines with the hopes of being able to fly out on a Space-A flight. On the Space-A blog I monitor, I’ve seen quite a few Space-A travellers caught up in this delimma and required to purchase a throw-away ticket showing the airlines they have a flight out of the Philippines. If you are able to buy your ticket on-line, vice at the counter, than there seems to be a much higher sucess rate geting in without a departure ticket in hand. I read in one instance, a retired traveller was able to show an offical manifest with his name on it and a dreamed up mission number to sidestep the departure ticket requirement. It was reluctantly accepted by the airlines, after much teeth sucking and head scratching.

  19. Philip says

    Good Morning Bob how are and you and your family well I hope it was interesting to read the comments on the ticket situation I know here you have to have a return ticket prior to leaving to the Philippines one way would be great but they won’t let you do that in Australia and upon entry you have 21 days prior to asking for another visa as you explained to Donna is it cheaper to apply there for this or is it better to do it in your own country.
    I am trying to find the best flight or the best budget flight to Cebu where my family are staying do you know of any as there are so many different prices on the net it can be confusing at times.
    Kind Regards

    • says

      Hi Philip – I am doing fine, thanks for asking, I hope you are doing well too!

      Are you sure that you are required to have a “return ticket” or just an ongoing ticket (a ticket out of the Philippines, could be return, or to any place else). The law is that you need an ongoing ticket.

      As for extending your visa, I would say that the cost is about the same whether you do it here or in your home country, should be be a big difference.

      • Philip says

        Hi Bob do you mean that you can have a one way ticket to the Philippines but then a ticket say to Hong Kong or something like that ??

          • Philip says

            Hi sorry to bother you again Bob but I am sitting with my 79 year old mum who just had her birthday and it is my brothers birthday today what we are trying to ascertain is it possible to fly straight to Cebu from Australia one way but how do we get a ticket to show upon entry to customs or Cebu airport say outward ticket to Hong Kong so we are allowed entry to the Philippines sorry just trying to find out as I need to get there asap Bob take care

            • says

              Hello Philip – Just purchase a one way ticket to the Philippines. Next, go either to an airline office or a travel agent and purchase a ticket from Clark to wherever you wish to buy – the cheapest ticket most likely. Once you have those two items you are set. I believe that Tiger is an Aussie company, so I would assume they have offices there in Australia where you can purchase tickets.

              • Philip says

                Hi Bob thank you for your email so the process is obtain a one way ticket to the Philippines in Australia and then attend an airline office in Australia say Tiger apply for a ticket from the Philippines to say Hong Kong as an outgoing ticket can this be oneway as well all this can be done here is that correct, or can you purchase a one way ticket to the Philippines enter the country and obtain the ticket there say to hongkong or somewhere ??
                Kind Regards

              • says

                Philip, you will need to have that ongoingnticket with you when you leave for the Philippines. If wait to buy it in the Philippunes, you will have waited too long.

  20. Gary Wigle says

    Back in April of 2010 I flew United Airlines from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Chicago and from Chicago to LAX. Then flew Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and then Hong Kong to Cebu.

    United Airlines would not let me board the flight to Chicago until I showed my onward ticket from Clark to Singapore. Then I had to to tell them I would not stay past 90 days in Singapore.

    I then made the comment about them not wanting to pay for my return flight if I didn’t have a ticket out of the country. I was told that would never happen. I would have to pay ALL costs, the airline pays nothing!!!

    No one else asked for the onward ticket because it was already in the airline computer database.

    • says

      If the airline wishes to continue offering service to the Philippines, they must follow Philippine laws and regulations. The airline is required to remove such a passenger from the country. If the passenger refuses to pay, they still arecrequired to remove that person from the country.

  21. SergeDavao says

    I made Visa Run exactly as Bob says on July 24-26, with Cebu Pacific though, MNL-BKK-MNL, return ticket was to Thailand from Clark, about $55, also with CebuPac., i just showed them return ticket, next time should try Tiger or Air Asia, also heard they are cheaper than Cebu

  22. Don says

    Everytime I fly from Singapore to MNL, they (the airline) ask to see my on going ticket, which I do not have as on visa. Last time, got in an argument with Tiger because she said that the Philippine visa was not authentic (looked fake) as it was a stamp blotter and not a paper type issued by some governments. So had to get my other documents to prove I was a resident.

  23. amapangarap says

    here is what we call a timatic info from our reservation system. this is the same system that airlines use;

    TIMATIC-3 / 13AUG12 / 0958 UTC                                                  
    NATIONAL USA (US)               /DESTINATION PHILIPPINES (PH)                  
    VISA DESTINATION PHILIPPINES (PH)                                              
    …… NORMAL PASSPORTS ONLY ……                                            
    PASSPORT REQUIRED.                                                              
      FOR AT LEAST 6 MONTHS ON ARRIVAL.                                            
       PLACE OF BIRTH >TIDFT/PH/PA/VA/ID43616                                      
     – HOLDERS OF A VISA UNDER SEC. 9 (EXCEPT SEC. A.), AND 47 CAN                  
       WHERE APPLICABLE).                                                          
    PASSPORT EXEMPTIONS:                                                            
    – HOLDERS OF EMERGENCY OR TEMPORARY PASSPORTS.                                  
    NATIONALS OF USA, FOR A MAX. STAY OF 21 DAYS.                                  
        NOTE 46140: NOT APPLICABLE TO HOLDERS OF EMERGENCY OR                      
       TEMPORARY PASSPORTS.                                                        
    NATIONALS OF THE PHILIPPINES >TIDFT/PH/VI/VS/ID22939                            
    VISA ISSUANCE:                                                                  
    OF 59 DAYS.                                                                    
    PHP 500.-.  (SEE NOTE 46140)                                                    
        NOTE 46140: NOT APPLICABLE TO HOLDERS OF EMERGENCY OR                      
       TEMPORARY PASSPORTS.                                                        
      WAIVER OF EXCLUSION GROUND (WEG)>TIDFT/PH/VI/MI/ID23153                      
    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:                                                        
    – RETURN/ONWARD TICKET IS REQUIRED TO TRAVEL TO THE                            
      PHILIPPINES; VISITORS ARRIVING WITHOUT A PRINTED                              
      ELECTRONIC FORMAT (LAPTOP, PHONE) ARE NOT ACCEPTED.                          
     – EXEMPT ARE FORMER NATIONALS OF THE PHILIPPINES                              
       AND CHILDREN.                                                                

  24. John D. says

    Hi Bob,
    Last time we arrived there, immigration at NAIA stamped the passports of both my lovely asawa and I with a “Balikbayan Visa” valid for one year, and no “return ticket” was ask for. Needless to say I was more than excited that we wouldn’t have to go through the process of acquiring 20 different passport stamps from 30 different immigration officials to stay past 21 days. :-).

    • says

      Yes, those using the Balikbayan Privilege are not required to have an ongoing ticket.

      I know you were joking, but let’s be fair. The Philippines makes it pretty easy to extend a visa, and you only need to visit one office to do it. If we wanted to compare to the USA, you would find that the Philippines makes it way, way easier!

  25. Jim Easley says

    Bob,,,,,I am getting really confused with all the things I read about moving to the Phillipines,,,,,first I lived in the Phillipines for 2 years at Mactan AFB during the Viet Nam war,,,,and I wanted to wait until I retired to come back,,,,,,can you please tell me the exact requirements for moving to the Phillipines? I know that everything I have would easily fit in a 20′ container,,,,,,,but this is where I want to make my home and eventually marry a local girl,,,,can you please help……thank you sir

    • says

      Hi Jim – Since it appears that you are not married to a Filipina, really, there are only two types of visas that you qualify for, a tourist visa or an SRRV. If you go for the tourist visa, you do not qualify for bringing in a container of goods, so if you choose to do that it is going to cost you a large amount in taxes. Once you marry somebody here, it is easy to get a resident visa and bring in your goods.

  26. Murray says

    If you are looking for a cheap throwaway ticket, Clark to Hong Kong on Air Asia. Booked in advance as little as 10USD. Sometimes instead of getting my visa extended I do a round trip Clark/Hong Kong, much cheaper. I have an APEC card so on entry to the Phils I get a 59 day visa not a 21 day visa.

  27. messtime says

    Can a person make a visa run or have an ongoing ticket to the tiny country of Palau – off to the right side (East of) of Mindanao?

    • says

      An ongoing ticket can be to anywhere, as long as it is outside the Philippines. However, flights to Palau are expensive, so it would not be wise for a throw away ticket.

      • messtime says

        Thanks for answering. I guess too expensive because not many people fly to Palau. A person needs a high traffic destination i suppose for getting lower cost fares, something i did not think of.

  28. Joe P says


    FYI we arrived here last Thursday (Bulacan) and when we left hing kong Cebu Pacific Air DID ask for the onward tickets. As I am an airline employee I simply make a throw away booking to Guam on United Airlines. All O have to do is cancell it, and no funds are exchanged.

    Also as an FYI at the Airport in Manila the BI person did ask me if I had an onward ticket and where to. BUT the other three folks traveling with me on the same methods were not asked since they went to a different lane.

    Will be here I’ll 28th, then back to foggy SFO. someday soon it will be a more permanent arrangement.

      • Richard says

        Hi, why do you say it needs to be real? If I am booking into airline A and I have a fake outgoing email ticket printed out from Airline B (basically just change the date from an old one), are they able to check/see/care?


          • John Miele says


            When I was living here on tourist visa and traveling as I do, I once had a printout of a Cathay pacific flight out while checking in on Singapore airlines. The sq agent had a flag show up even though I had the outgoing ticket. It was a computer error, but such a situation as described could be embarrassing at best, expensive at worst. Airlines are under no obligation to transport you if you do not behave. You could end up on the airline blacklist (not the no-fly list, but a blacklist each airline keeps of known troublemakers).

            The legacy airlines’ systems are all linked as a way to cut down on people double booking. That’s how the error was caught with me.

  29. says

    if you travel from the u.s., the airlines will deny you boarding on a u.s. passport if you do not have a round trip or onward ticket. as a travel agent, i must inform my passengers of this. only exception is if you have a visa of some sort (other than a tourist visa). believe me, this IS inforced by the airlines.

  30. says

    by the way, a one way ticket is almost expensive as a round trip ticket. if you buy a round trip ticket and cancel/refund the return, you will get a small amount if anything at all as there are cancel/refund/processing fees. there ares lots of promos where the round trip is cheaper than the one way ticket. one way tickets are usually unrestricted and therefore cost more. i have never seen a promo for a one way except philippine airlines for passengers leaving the philippines immigrating to the u.s.

  31. Michael says

    Hello Bob. Hope all is well with you and yours!

    I am an American citizen, about to visit my San Francisco consulate, in preparations to come visit my Pinay girlfriend (for what I hope will be a 1-2 year visit) and am left with these strategic questions:

    1) If a Visa can only be extended 59 days at a time, why buy a 12-month (9A) Visa for $90 US when a $30 3-month seems would suffice? Your take?

    2) I understand the cheap onward travel. Much cheaper than having to buy a RT ticket back to SFO when I’m really not sure when I might come back, and most airlines won’t price RT tickets out past 300 days anyway. This begs the question: WHEN should I date my throwaway travel? It seems, If I plan on travelling outside PH while there I WILL ALWAYS NEED an onward ticket in hand EVERY TIME I RE-ENTER PH … is that true? Also, for this initial upcoming trip from SFO to MNL I will need to have one in hand. Can that be for 3 months out? 9 months out? The full15.99 months out in case I max out?

    I have really admired your willingness to help out everyone and the clarity with which you respond.

    Thank you …. Michael in Northern California

    • MindanaoBob says

      Hi Michael – Here are my answers to your questions:

      1) I see no reason for that either.
      2) You should date your throw away ticket anytime before 59 days after entering the Philippines, or it won’t be accepted.

      Hope this helps!

  32. says

    i am a us citizen living in the philippines for 2 years now. my balik bayan visa has expired and now on a tourist visa..i just got married to a filipina and plan to travel to hong kong for 3 days. i’m sure i can get my balik bayan visa again because my wife will be with me…
    question is, when i visit hong kong, do i need a ticket showing that ill be going out of the philippines in 21 days?? or will they just give me the balik bayan upon arrival at the airport.//
    thank you

  33. MMM says

    Hi Bob, I have come across this thread and I find your answers interesting, perhaps you can shed some light to my confusion: im currently in the philippines I arrived 5days ago, was given 21 day visa…i have now decided to go see hong kong for 2days and return on the weekend,before i fly back to London on monday, as im in within the 21 days, will I be able to return normally(multiple entry) back here or I have to start the whole visa/immigration process again by showing all my info (return ticket..) thanks

  34. davidengland says

    hi bob
    great info. One question which is less clear although u touched on it was that if you book
    a flight,say return, and its say 35 days and u are allowed only 21 days automatic visa will they refuse you? On the basis that there is not guarantee you will get 59 days extension? Unfortunately I didnt buy an open ticket and the the ticket is fixed. Hoping and willing to get the visa extension to 59 days even though will use only part of it.

  35. Andrew says

    Dear MindanaoBob,

    I have 2 questions I hope you could help: my fiancee and I are in Malaysia are we’re heading for Philippines to register our marriage, and then stay there for good, both of us have complete required legal documents for marriage.

    Q1: Any possibility of obtaining a Balikbayan Visa on arrival by showing our ‘Intend to Marriage Letter’ issued by the Malaysian Government to the immigration?

    Suppose Q1’s answer is a straight ‘no’, then i have no choice but to get a thrown away ticket and process our marriage in Philippines within that automatically granted 21 days tourist visa.

    Q2: After our marriage successfully processed within the 21 days, must we (as newly married husband and wife) exit and re-enter Philippines just to get the Balikbayan Visa, or we can go to the immigration locally to obtain the Balikbayan Visa without exiting the country?

    • says

      Hello Andrew –

      Q1: Legally, you must be married to get the Balikbayan Visa. Planning to get married doesn’t matter. Now, is it possible that you could get it? Anything is possible in the Philippines. But, legally, no, you cannot get it.

      Q2: In order to get a Balikbayan Visa you must leave the country and re-enter. They cannot issue you one at the Immigration office, only at the airport when you return to the country.

      Hope this helps.

  36. says

    Hi Bob! I went to Singapore after my 16 months stay in the Philippines. I was surprised at Changi Singapore
    airport when they asked for an on going ticket. I did not have it so I purchased one to Kota Kinabalu in Brunei
    which should be on the 7th of October 2013. When I arrived in Manila the airport immigration has stamped
    my passport for 30 days. By the way, I arrived here on September 12, 2013 and my passport has been
    stamped I am allowed to stay until October 11, 2013. I hope Philippine Immigration did not make a mistake as I plan to go to extend my visa based on the date stamped on my passport. I am a U.S. citizen. Thank you.

      • says

        Thank you, Bob. I was just confused between the 21 days (law or policy) and 30 days.
        So they at the immigration are not going to fine me when I extend my visa on the
        11th of October,. You know, I hate fine and penalties
        . Best regards and more power.

  37. Gary Coffey says

    Bob I am getting ready to go to the philippines with my Philippina wife whom just recieved her US citizenship and will be asking for a Balikbayan Stamp at the airport on arrival. Will I need a onward ticket in this situation or do you think we will be ok?By the way I read all your post and get most all my help from your site you provide and excellent service.

    • says

      Those who avail of the Balikbayan Privilege are not required to have an ongoing ticket. However, sometimes the airlines don’t know that and will try to force you to purchase the ticket. Stand your ground, and insist that they check the visa regulations for the Balikbayan program, and they will figure out that you don’t need the ongoing ticket. Be sure that you have your wife’s old Philippine Passport to prove that she is a former citizen, and also have your marriage contract with you, which is required but not always requested.

  38. says

    Bob if i come to philippines with a throw away onward ticket and it expires eventually will i still be able to get extended visas? Or will Bureua of immigration require ongoing proof of a planned departure? I have got several visas between my twp trips from USA to Phils but i cant tell if they are checkin in the computer to find my return flight info or if they dont .

  39. James Watt says

    Worrying news indeed Bob.
    My wife and I returned to England for a few months, earlier this year for an emergency.
    We bought one way tickets to Manila from London.
    We were not challenged before we left.
    We filled in the Immigration Forms on the aeroplane before arrival in Manila.
    When we arrived at the Immigration Desk and handed over our papers, the Officer noticed our multiple Visas, he did not chastise us for only having a one way ticket.
    I handed over my ACR-I card, he smiled and gave us 30 days entry.
    The next day, we got on our flight to Davao only showing our ACR-I card.
    I do not suggest any non Pinoy should purchase a one way ticket, I took a chance.
    Perhaps this will be the last time we’ll get away with it?

    • says

      Hi James – It is not a problem to have a one way ticket. But, you should have an ongoing ticket to any other destination outside the Philippines. So, in other words, there is no requirement for a round trip, or “return” ticket, as long as you are going anywhere outside the country.

  40. Jim says

    Hi Bob – I left the Philippines after staying approximately 22 months on a tourist visa, before getting a one-year 9g work visa there, so the total stay was almost 3 years without a departure. When I got my 9g, I had to come current on my 9a, which cost around 45k at that time with penalties. I think over the 22 months I renewed 3 times, each time paying the penalties for doing it late.

    Departing Philippines and clearing immigration at NAIA on last day of 9g, I was charged around 3k for an exit clearance, and I had to pay 1620 travel tax (unrelated to immigration, but was charged for “being there over a year”. First time I encountered that.).

    Now I’m thinking of returning, but am nervous. Does my prior 22 month stay, and doing late renewals, make it difficult for me to re-enter?

          • Jack says

            It is a business travel card mainly for SE asia..


            Think this could work?

            Whats the cheapest 1 way throwaway airline and destination you’ve seen?

            I was also thinking of booking a 1 way ticket from mileage program or airline (e.g. BA, United, etc.) that allows free refund for 24 hr cancellations. i’d buy it less than 24 hours from departure and then cancel ticket right after getting past check in or immigration.


              • John Miele says


                If you have an APEC card, then you are exempt from the one way ticket. However, the APEC card is only available to member nationalities (of APEC countries,,, The USA signed, but has not yet put the procedures into place), and is rather expensive (cost varies based on your country of origin).

                I know a few Filipinos who have them, and it does make their lives easier for travel, especially removing a number of visa requirements for them. Note that it is not particularly easy to get an APEC card. You must apply in your homer country, you must pass security checks, you must be a member of the authorized organization (Philippine chamber in the Philippines, as yet undetermined in the USA), and… here’s the kicker… you must be able to prove frequent travel for business. The guys I know who have them are like me, travelling 3-4 trips abroad monthly.

  41. says

    As an American residing in Phuket, Thailand- I do not want to go to Bangkok to apply for a Visa prior to entering RP. So I will fly in to RP anticipating the 30 day stamp upon arrival. I have two questions:

    1- If I fly directly into Cebu, can my outbound throw away ticket (Departing prior to the 30 day stamp) be departing from a different city, say Manila? (Might be a cheaper throw away fare)

    2- Prior to my 30 day Visa on arrival expiring, when I go to apply for an extension, do I have to buy another throw away ticket each time I go to the immigration office to request an extension? (This could make things more expensive)

    Thanks in advance for all of your help,


    • says

      Hi James, answers to each of your questions.

      1. Your departure ticket can leave from anywhere in the Philippines, as long as it is a ticket that goes out of the country.

      2. You only need one ongoing ticket for when you arrive. No tickets are needed when you visit the immigration office.

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