The Philippines Visa: Long Term Stays Finally Getting Easier

With its low cost of living, beautiful beaches, and friendly people, The Philippines has long been a popular expat destination. Unspoiled islands like Boracay and Palawan draw beach loving...
get a philippines visa

With its low cost of living, beautiful beaches, and friendly people, The Philippines has long been a popular expat destination. Unspoiled islands like Boracay and Palawan draw beach loving expats with their pristine, white sandy beaches and crystal clear emerald water. Others prefer slightly more developed cities like Cebu or Davao with large American style malls and access to all the foods or amenities they would find in their home countries. And some are drawn to mountainous areas such as Bagiuo with cooler weather and stunning vistas.

Whatever your preference, there is a good chance The Phillipines has a place just for you; the perfect place that you would be happy to call home.

Up until recently, one of the main drawbacks of living in there was strict and tiresome Philippines visa regulations. There are two main options for people choosing to live in The Philippines for an extended period of time, only one of which is a permanent solution.


The New Long Stay Visitor Visa

Currently the most popular among foreigners because of the ease in obtainment is the newly created Long Stay Visitor Visa. There are no financial requirements to prove and it is not much more complicated than obtaining a regular Philippines tourist visa. Until 2013, visitors could only get a 59 day visa and they had to renew it every 2 months for a maximum time frame of 16 months. At which point, they had to leave the country to start the process all over again. This meant they had to reapply for a Philippines visa extension every two months and waste time at immigration offices dealing with needless bureaucracy, but no more.

The Long Stay Visitor Visa still has a maximum length of 16 months, unless special permission is obtained, but no longer do expats need to reapply every 2 months. Now expats living in The Philippines may extend their visas for up to 6 months at a time in a single transaction. At the end of the 16 month period, you will still be required to leave the country for a border run, or border flight I should say. The 6 month visa fee is 13,900 PHP (roughly $320.)


The Permanent Philippines Visa

If you don’t have any medical conditions or plans of marrying a Filipina woman, your only permanent option is to apply for a permanent visa / retirement visa using proof of funds or income. There are a few ways you can do this.

  • If you are over the age of 35, you can deposit $20,000 in a Filipino bank account. The caveat is this money will be held until you leave the country and you cannot use it for any form investment or living expenses.
  • If you are between the ages of 35 and 49, you can deposit $50,000 into a Filipino bank account, which can then be converted in an investment of $50,000 or higher in the country. Many expats choose to invest in a business which can solve the problem of any income issues and visa requirements at the same time. Others just prefer to purchase a home, which also qualifies as an investment.
  • If you are 50 years old or above, you only need deposit $20,000 or, if you have a monthly pension of at least $800, a $10,000 deposit will suffice. This money can be used for living expenses or investments as well.

All of the permanent and retirement Philippines visas include multiple entries and work permission. They are also supposed to include up to one container of goods duty free for your household, but due to the corruption it doesn’t always work out this way. I know of one long-term expat residing in the Philippines who actually received his permanent visa and tried to import his allotted container duty-free, but was still charged by the customs officials despite paperwork showing evidence that he was allowed one contained duty-free.


Constantly Changing Philippines Visa Regulations

The main problem with getting black and white facts about obtaining long-term or permanent visas in the Philippines is that they are constantly changing the rules and requirements. Even the embassy seems to be a bit confused about what the exact regulations are. Because of this, many expats have taken different paths to long term stays in the Philippines and what worked for on expat might not work for you. Your best option is to contact the Philippines Embassy and verify what documents or financials they will require. Try and get information from them in writing so as to avoid some of the hassles you might otherwise encounter when applying for your long-term visa. The bureaucratic situation in the Philippines is relatively corrupt and you will be confronted with unexpected fees at every turn. Be prepared for a long and arduous road to obtaining your permanent Philippines visa, but if you stick with it, do your due diligence, and stand your ground, you can do it.


Author’s Favorite Travel Gear



Cabeau Evolution Travel Pillow – Ok. So I have tried a number of different travel pillows, even this funky looking thing. This one has to be my all time favorite. It gives more head support than most, is more comfortable than inflatable versions, and compresses to a fraction of its size so I can easily stash it in my pack.

OuterEQ Travel Hammock – I fully admit that I am a beach bum and I like nothing more than stringing up a hammock and enjoying a beer while watching the sunset. This one is great because it hardly takes up any room in my pack, adds a negligible amount of weight, and dries quickly after I inevitably forget it outside and it gets rained on.

JBL Clip 2 – I don’t actually own this, but recently picked it for a friend of mine who asked me to bring it back to Cambodia for him. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t test it out and now want to purchase one for myself. The sound is great, considering its small size. Plus, it’s waterproof.  I mean, c’mon. What more do you want?

Brett Dvoretz

A long time traveler and recent expat, Brett wandered through over 25 countries before he decided to settle in the little beach town of Sihanoukville, Cambodia. After struggling through the process of setting up a new life abroad, he decided to start Expats and Aliens to help other expats find the info they need before making the leap.

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6 Comments on this post.
  • Jeff
    9 June 2016 at 11:29 pm

    i read that they are requiring proof of onward travel….how do i do the long term visa/because i only want a one way ticket there and the option to get ticket later

    • Brett Dvoretz
      20 May 2017 at 2:32 pm

      I have never had an issue with the Philippines requiring any proof of onward travel. Many times I have arrived there without yet having booked a flight back to Cambodia. So I don’t think you’ll have any problems with that.

  • Mark Bartlett
    13 January 2017 at 1:31 am

    What papers do i need to live in manila please. As i have a girl friend online there and i am thinking of moving over there to live with her.
    I am 65 years old and i don’t know how to go about it so could you please help.And how much would it cost me as i just started to collect my pension but i realy want to be with could you please give me some information about how i go about this please. Thank you.

  • Philip Hill
    26 January 2017 at 3:56 am

    How do I apply for Long stay visitor Visa? I arrived on 11th not knowing I only had 30 days. Please help me.

  • jason t wagner
    18 September 2017 at 12:51 pm

    what about if your under 35? Can you just bribe someone over there seeing as how the article mentioned its corrupt.

    • brett
      29 September 2017 at 5:12 am

      It’s not as easy to bribe people as you may think. Despite being a corrupt system, it also comes down to who you know. If you know the right people, anything is possible, but if you don’t know the right people, oftentimes money won’t solve the problem.

      If you are under 35 Jason and looking for a place you can stay permanently, without any visa problems, you may want to consider Cambodia.