Living in the Philippines on a tourist visa 2018 Update

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Tourist Visa to LIve in the Philippines

If you want to live in the Philippines, you need some kind of visa to stay here. Let’s look at one way you can do it: tourist visas.

2018 Update

This article is a couple years old (2016), and there have not been many changes since publication, but I get questions from plenty of people asking for an updated version of the article, so here it is! Small changes have been made to keep the article as fresh and up-to-date as possible!

Visa Assistance

This article applies to those from Visa Waiver eligible countries

Those from Visa Waiver eligible countries (listed below) can use this method to live, more or less, permanently in the Philippines. Read the rest of the article to find out how permanent it is. Countries not on this list are “visa restricted” countries and cannot avail of the benefits listed in this article. We will be coming out with a new article in the near future explaining how those from visa restricted countries should act in order to live in the Philippines.

Visa Waiver Eligible Countries

Nationals from the following countries are allowed to enter the Philippines without a visa:

  1. Andorra
  2. Angola
  3. Antigua and Barbuda
  4. Argentina
  5. Australia
  6. Austria
  7. Bahamas
  8. Bahrain
  9. Barbados
  10. Belgium
  11. Benin
  12. Bhutan
  13. Bolivia
  14. Botswana
  15. Brazil
  16. Brunei Darussalam
  17. Bulgaria
  18. Burkina Faso
  19. Cambodia
  20. Cameroon
  21. Canada
  22. Cape Verde
  23. Central African Republic
  24. Chad
  25. Chile
  26. Colombia
  27. Comoros
  28. Congo
  29. Costa Rica
  30. Cote d’Ivoire
  31. Cyprus
  32. Czech Republic
  33. Democratic Republic of the Congo
  34. Denmark
  35. Djibouti
  36. Dominica
  37. Dominican Republic
  38. Ecuador
  39. El Salvador
  40. Equatorial Guinea
  41. Eritrea
  42. Ethiopia
  43. Fiji
  44. Finland
  45. France
  46. Gabon
  47. Germany
  48. Ghana
  49. Gibraltar
  50. Greece
  51. Grenada
  52. Guatemala
  53. Guinea
  54. Guinea Bissau
  55. Guyana
  56. Haiti
  57. Honduras
  58. Hungary
  59. Iceland
  60. Indonesia
  61. Ireland
  62. Israel
  63. Italy
  64. Jamaica
  65. Japan
  66. Kenya
  67. Kuwait
  68. Lao People’s Democratic Republic
  69. Lesotho
  70. Liberia
  71. Liechtenstein
  72. Luxembourg
  73. Madagascar
  74. Malawi
  75. Malaysia
  76. Maldives
  77. Mali
  78. Malta
  79. Marshall Islands
  80. Mauritania
  81. Mauritius
  82. Mexico
  83. Micronesia
  84. Monaco
  85. Mongolia
  86. Morocco
  87. Mozambique
  88. Myanmar
  89. Namibia
  90. Nepal
  91. Netherlands
  92. New Zealand
  93. Nicaragua
  94. Niger
  95. Norway
  96. Oman
  97. Palau
  98. Panama
  99. Papua New Guinea
  100. Paraguay
  101. Peru
  102. Poland
  103. Portugal
  104. Qatar
  105. Republic of Korea
  106. Romania
  107. Rwanda
  108. Saint Kitts and Nevis
  109. Saint Lucia
  110. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  111. San Marino
  112. Sao Tome and Principe
  113. Saudi Arabia
  114. Senegal
  115. Seychelles
  116. Singapore
  117. Slovakia
  118. Solomon Islands
  119. Somalia
  120. South Africa
  121. Spain
  122. Suriname
  123. Swaziland
  124. Sweden
  125. Switzerland
  126. Tanzania
  127. Thailand
  128. Togo
  129. Trinidad and Tobago
  130. Tunisia
  131. Turkey
  132. Tuvalu
  133. Uganda
  134. United Arab Emirates
  135. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  136. United Republic of Tanzania
  137. United States of America
  138. Uruguay
  139. Venezuela
  140. Vietnam
  141. Zambia
  142. Zimbabwe

Living in the Philippines on a tourist visa for the countries listed above

airline-industryWhile I don’t think a tourist visa is the best way to go, for some people it is one of the only ways of doing it. When you fly into the Philippines, you will automatically be issued a visa waiver with which you can legally stay for 30 days. When it is coming up on your 30 day limit for staying, you can go and visit the Bureau of Immigration office in the city where you are visiting, or a nearby city if you are in a small town. For a matter of paying a small fee, your initial 30-day visa will be extended to 59 days. Subsequent visas will give you a full 59 days stay (or a more expensive 6-month extension is also available in major cities). There is a catch here, though…. your total stay cannot exceed 3 years (note:  The law has been changed, previously you could remain in the country up to 16 months). So, basically you can get a total of 18 visas and extensions of 59 days each, and then you must leave. Or, you can stay for 3 years using the 6-month visa extensions, and need to get fewer extensions, whichever you prefer.

How can I stay longer than 6 months?

When it is time to leave the country because your visa can no longer be renewed, you have a few choices to make. Maybe you want to return home, to the USA or wherever you came here from. Alternatively, maybe you don’t feel a need to go back home and want to just take a quick trip out of the country so you can re-enter and start all over again. If you check the Sunday newspapers in the Philippines you will find lots of advertisements for travel agents selling getaway packages to Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam or Singapore. For just $200 to $300 (sometimes even less) you can take a 2 to 3 days getaway to one of these locations, with a return flight to the Philippines. When you enter the Philippines after your short jaunt abroad, your tourist visa merry-go-round starts all over again, allowing you to get another 3 years here (in 59-day or 6-month increments, of course).

Remember the ongoing ticket requirement

Keep in mind that when you return to the Philippines, you must have an ongoing airline ticket that will take you out of the Philippines within 59 days. Many people call this a “throw away” ticket because you just show it to the immigration officials to prove that you have one, then throw it away because you have no intention to use it.  You can get a valid throwaway ticket for as little as $20 and certainly under $50.

For all intents and purposes, you can continue this process for as long as you like, leaving once every 3 years and coming back for another 3-year stay.

Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur. Bob is an American who lived in Mindanao from 2000 until 2019. Bob has now relocated back to the USA.

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15 years ago

Hi Dave – Thanks for adding your thoughts. Lots of people these days are doing the "throw away" ticket thing.

Dave Starr
15 years ago

To amplify Bob's answer a bit .. the issues her are never easy. You are dealing with two separate entities regarding the onward travel ticket … the Philippine BID and the airline you chose to use. The BID is happy with a ticket or a "travel itinerary from a licensed travel agent". The airline may be much more picky, requiring an actual ticket before they allow you to board for your inbound flight to the Philippines. One solution as Bob mentioned is a ticket for departure within 21 days that can be changed … typically for a fee. A second… Read more »

Bob B
Bob B
15 years ago

Hi Bob,

Just a question concerning the tourist visa application process. When you enter the Philippines on a 21 day visa you must have a return ticket or a ticket to somewhere. If you immediately apply for a visitors visa that extends your stay to 59 days what happens to the return ticket you purchased that would have brought you back to your home country in 21 days. Its a concern because I will be entering the Philippines from the US in August and need to clear up this issue if possible.

Thank you…………Bob B………….WB8QEP

15 years ago

Hi Bob B – Firstly, you cannot "immediately" extend your 21 day visa. You must do so a few days before it expires. They won't let you do it right after you enter in most cases. Now, regarding your return ticket…. in most cases, if you have a return ticket, even if it is beyond 21 days you will be OK. So, you should be able to book your return for when you actually want to return, not within 21 days. But, if you need to, you can generally contact the airline and change your departure date. With some low… Read more »

13 years ago

can american work here with a tourist visa or we need to get married first and obtain him 13a visa to be able to get a job in the philippines? i am detz and engaged…

13 years ago

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the answer. What about I own a company abroad or I am hired by a company in Europe for to work with European companies and work from the Philippines. Is it legal? Is it in a grey area? Is it illegal but basically impossible to get into troubles since it would not harm local economy and nobody would gain interest to report such activity?

13 years ago

Hi Joe – With something like that, it is easy to "fly under the radar," if you know what I mean.

erik cable
erik cable
13 years ago

Hi Bob,I am moving to Carcar with my filipina.I am coming from los angeles.My question is what is the best way to ship my crate which is 24"x48"x84"(300 lbs)?

13 years ago

Hi Joe – No, you would not be able to do that on a tourist visa.

13 years ago


Can I incorporate and operate a Philippino company while staying on tourist visa, provided that I will mention tourist/business visa? I want to work freelance in software development, such a company would require minimal investment.


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