Tourist Visa to LIve in the PhilippinesIf 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 UpdateThis 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 countriesThose 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 CountriesNationals 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 aboveWhile 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 requirementKeep 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.
Financially, this is the time
The Peso has hit a 12 year lowIf you have been thinking of moving to the Philippines, believe me, this is the time to do it. The US dollar has been rapidly getting stronger, making life much easier and better for American expats. This affects ex-pats all around the world, but I’m here to talk about the Philippines.
The roller coaster ride I’ve seenWhen I moved here in 2000, the dollar was worth 40 pesos. After arriving, the peso just kept losing value. I saw the peso go down 42 about 44 over several years. Then the decline became even more rapid. Pretty soon we saw 50. Within a year or two after that, the all-time low was hit for the peso. The dollar was worth just over 56 pesos! American expats were celebrating. Life was easy, and life was great. Even those on a low income could live here very well.
Nothing is foreverBut, there’s an old adage that a friend of mine would always remind me of back in the day. Nothing lasts forever. In almost every aspect of life, when he and I would talk about something really good going on in our lives, he would always go back to it again, “Bob, nothing lasts forever”. And, pretty much every respect, he has been right.
My friend was certainly right about the cheap pesoAs I recall, was back around 2007 that the dollar dropped like a rock. We went from living the high life 56 pesos to the dollar, and in just a couple of years, the dollar was back again worth only 40 pesos. If you make your earning plans based on the dollar is worth 56 and it suddenly loses a huge percentage of its value, life can get difficult really quick. During those years, I saw a lot of American expats heading back to the USA. They just no longer had enough money to live here. It was a sad truth, the American ex-pat population here must’ve dropped by at least 20% at that time.
Things have turned around in the last five years or soFive or six years ago, the peso was still around 40 to the US dollar. But, we started seeing some changes. Pretty soon the peso hit 41, then 42, I remember my friends and I would sit in the coffee shop and dream that maybe it would hit 43, 44, or dare we say 45! It was just a couple of years ago that the US dollar got back to buying 50 pesos again. The ex-pat community was rejoicing. Things were pretty stable for about a year remaining between 50 and 51, sometimes even dipping into the 49’s. But, this year things are on the move again.
Current peso valueAs I write this, the peso has just gone over 53 to the dollar and is sitting at a value of around 53.4 pesos to one dollar. Most people here are speculating that the peso will continue to lose value against the US dollar. But why should you move now? Well, with the dollar nearing an all-time high against the peso, this is the time when your dollar will go further than ever before. If things continue to move in the same direction, we may hit an all-time peak value of the dollar in a year or less, that is what is being said here.
Better catch that planeSo, if moving to the Philippines has been on your mind, and you can do it now financially, this is probably the time to make your move. See you soon?
This website really is a great resource. You can find entertainment here about the Philippines, and life here, and you can also find a lot of useful resources and information that will help you in your life here. Information about visas, drivers licenses, immigration issues, dealing with government offices, learning the language, interacting with other ex-pats, there really is information about just about any topic that an ex-pat would need to learn about. But, the question is, are you taking advantage of the information that is freely available here? Think about it. On almost a daily basis, I have people start chats with me on Facebook asking me a lot of questions about how to do this, where to get that, that sort of thing. To be honest, every one of these topics has been covered here on LiP. Just yesterday, a fellow that has been my friend on Facebook for many years, and I consider him a good friend, was having trouble about a drivers license here in the Philippines, he was also having trouble about getting married here. Frankly, when he had gone to government offices to seek assistance, he was not getting good information. In fact, the information that they were giving him was completely wrong! I helped this fellow for more than an hour. I don’t have enough hours in my day to help every person who needs that kind of assistance. But, the thing is, every single thing that I told my friend is already available here on this website for free! In most cases, when people need assistance like this, I tell them about my consulting packages, and offer to help them, but not for free. I just don’t have enough time to do that. What happens often is that they will say that I am trying to rip them off, or take their money. I am money hungry. No, I am just hungry to have some free time that I can spend with my family. Like I said, every bit of information that I would give these people is already freely available here on this website. If they don’t care to search that information out and read it for free, why should I spend an hour or more giving them personal service? I have Artie given the same service for free. I would really like to see people start taking advantage of the resources available here on LiP. It’s all free! I try to keep it as current as possible, up-to-date, and always accurate. Next time you find yourself in a bind just do a search here on LiP! You just might be surprised how easily you can find exactly what you’re looking for. If it is not here, contact me, and will see how I can help you! But, I am betting that you will find it right here free for the asking.
Well, Anthony Bourdain was not my brother, but in some ways, he had a kinship with most anybody who would read this site. You see, Chef Anthony Bourdain had a real affection for the Philippines. I can’t really say for sure how long his Philippine connection went back, I think that it started about 10 years ago. There was an anonymous food blogger in the Philippines who was known as Marketman, and he blogged on a website called MarketManila. It is now known that Marketman’s real name is Joel Binamira, a Cebuano who spends part of his time in Manila. I will get more into this later in the article. As many readers will know, Anthony killed himself over the weekend. I found it really sad when I heard about this. I really liked him a lot. In these days when so many people hate each other over things like politics, I was found Bourdain to be very entertaining, and very real. I think he might’ve been a kind of liberal guy, and I am pretty conservative, but he didn’t seem like the kind of guy that you really needed to fight over politics with. He was the kind of guy you could just talk with about food, and other real-life things. I always found him entertaining. I was really shocked when I read about his suicide. The guy seemed to be experiencing such success, it just doesn’t seem that a person like that would resort to suicide. But, we can never know what demons are haunting people. Lately, here on the blog, we have a fair amount of discussion about mental health and related issues, mostly coming from Jason, and I have enjoyed our discussion, I also think it is valuable. I feel that there are many ex-pats who experience mental health issues. Some of them probably decide to move abroad seeking to leave such issues behind them although that rarely works out. Over the years, Anthony Bourdain made two visits to the Philippines that I am aware of, perhaps he made more. As far as I am aware his first visit was about a decade ago and that visit was related to Marketman. He made a second visit several years later seemed to be mainly focused on the Manila area. In his second visit you could really see that he had developed a very special love of the Philippines and the Filipino people, it just really shined through. He told some very touching stories about some Filipinos that he met his journeys. But the story that I enjoyed most was his first visit to the Philippines. Bourdain was a chef by trade, and especially on his early TV shows his show was really centered around food. Before he made that first trip to the Philippines, somebody on his staff started reading the MarketManila blog and took particular interest in a series of articles about Lechon Baboy (pig roasted over an open fire, Philippine style). MarketMan had written an extensive series on this topic, and he advocated making lechon in a traditional way, not using the modern methods, which he considered to be inferior. Bourdain was a real lover of pork, and somehow word of these articles got to him. His staff started researching it and ended up setting up things with MarketMan for a visit to Manila and Cebu. That became an episode of his show, No Reservations. MarketMan was featured on the show, for most of the show in fact. He cooked several Lechon Baboys to feed Anthony Bourdain, and it was really an enjoyable show. Apparently, this particular episode of No Reservations was viewed by over 100 million people worldwide, and it really puts Filipino cuisine on the map, thanks to chef Bourdain. Read more about this episode and how it all came about by clicking here. This is a great article written by MarketMan himself. As I said, I really enjoyed following Anthony Bourdain, watching his journeys to different parts of the world, and watching him cook, and mostly eat different foods from many different cultures around the world. I will certainly miss Bourdain, but I will always remember particularly his visits to the Philippines. Mabuhay, Mr. Bourdain.
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