NEW articles daily! Subscribe below to receive daily updates with our new articles!
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.
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!
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:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Brunei Darussalam
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Costa Rica
- Cote d’Ivoire
- Czech Republic
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Equatorial Guinea
- Guinea Bissau
- Lao People’s Democratic Republic
- Marshall Islands
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- Republic of Korea
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- San Marino
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- Solomon Islands
- South Africa
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- United Republic of Tanzania
- United States of America
Living in the Philippines on a tourist visa for the countries listed above
While 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.