This is one of the first questions asked by someone considering retirement in the Philippines. The Philippines is very visitor friendly, and permits a citizen of just about any country to enter the country and stay for 21 days without a visa. For those intending to stay longer, in particular those intent on semi or full time retirement in the country, the following 3 options are available.
1. The Special Resident Retiree Visa (SSRV)
Although not widely known, the Philippines has a foreign retiree program. It is called the Special Resident Retiree Visa (SSRV) program. It entitles the holder to multiple-entry privileges with the option to reside permanently in the Philippines. The younger you are, the higher the financial requirement, but anyone over 35 can join.
With a pension:
o 50 years old and above: $10,000 time deposit in a Philippine bank for the duration of your stay. Single applicants need a monthly pension of $800; $1,000 for couples. Note however that the time deposit can be converted into equity in a real estate investment, and this can be counted at the required deposit.
Without a pension:
o 35 to 40 years old: $50,000 time deposit
o 50 years old and above: $20,000 time deposit
2. Tourist Visa
Provided you have no plans to obtain employment or to own/operate a business in the Philippines, it is also possible to retire on a tourist visa. Many Expats follow this course; especially those who do not qualify for a retirement visa.
This is how that process works. All visitors to the country must hold a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the period they plan to stay. They are permitted to stay for up to 21 days provided they hold tickets for onward or return journeys. Visas and special permits may be obtained from Philippine embassies or consular offices overseas.
Visitors intending to extend their stay from 21 days to 59 days should contact the Immigration Office for an extension and pay a nominal fee.
By this method, you can stay indefinitely, provided you leave once a year, for at least one day. Most people using this option fly over to Hong Kong, Thailand, or Singapore for a few days once a year and then re-enter as a tourist for another year.
3. Balikbayan Status
This visa status is designed for former Philippine citizens, and their spouses, who are visiting the Philippines (referred to as “balikbayans”). This entry is valid for one year. After one year, the balikbayan (and his/her spouse) has to pay monthly extension fees, on top of fees for Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR), Head Tax, and Certificate of Temporary Residence Visa (CTRV). Most Balikbayans and their spouse enter the country with their one year status, and then leave the country once a year for a weekend trip to Hong Kong, Singapore, or Thailand, or to their home country, and then re-enter for another year of stay. This method avoids having to continuously extend one’s tourist visa, and run the risk of forgetting and then being in an “overstay” category, which could get you deported.