IJsselstein, Wednesday, 20 August 2014 23:27:21
If you are a citizen of a western country and arrive without a Philippine visa at one of the international airports, carry a passport valid for 6 months beyond your planned exit from the Philippines, and have an ongoing or return airplane ticket leaving the Philippines, you will normally be granted an entry visa for free and can enter the Philippines and stay for a maximum of 30 days. Visa information from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
If you like to stay longer, it will take you some more trouble.
For a stay up to 59 days, you can either apply for a visa from a Philippine embassy or consulate in your home country, or apply for an extension with one of the immigration offices when already in the Philippines.
I normally advice people to get the longer visa from the embassy (or a consulate), as this saves you a couple of days hassle during your holiday. Please contact the Philippine embassy of your country about the exact requirements for a visa application and opening hours of the consular section. When you arrive with a visa, please show it to the immigration official, so that he will actually give you the 59 days, instead of the normal 30 days, on your arrival stamp.
Immigration offices can be found in Intramuros Manila, Cebu City, Angeles City, and San Fernando, La Union, and a number of other places. If you are staying away from these cities, extending your visa might require a detour of several days.
In Bohol, you can have your visa extended at the
Bohol Immigration Office
2/F Sarabia Co, Torralba Bldg. CPG Ave.,
Tel. No.: 038-235-6084
The office is on the second floor. If you arrive here during office hours, with photocopies of your passport id page and the page with your arrival stamp (photocopies can be made in a shop a 100 meters west along the same road). Pay the various fees (in 2007, 2020 pesos, including the express lane fee), you can be outside with a visa extension within one hour.
Longer visas and extensions can also be acquired, but require progressively more effort and fees to be paid. The maximum possible on a tourist visa is two year's stay, after that you will need to leave the country for at least one day. Many foreigners living in the Philippines actually turn this obligatory trip into a short holiday in Hong Kong or Singapore. I've also been told that Palau is a nice destination.
If you are from a country that isn't listed in the visa-on-arrival list, such as India or China, you will have to apply for a visa for any trip, no matter how short, from the Philippine Embassy in your country of residence. A list of these can be found on the DFA website.
Balikbayans (Philippine citizens, former Philippine citizens, and, if traveling together, their foreign spouses and children) will receive a free one-year visa on entry, and can thus avoid the trip to an embassy or immigration office. Not all Philippine Embassies will tell you this. Some evidence of marriage may be required. In my case, my wife's passport carrying her married name always has been enough. Note that this privilege is only available to spouses from countries that also have the visa on arrival privilege.
Everybody, except babies without their own seat, will have to pay the airport terminal fee of 550 pesos (in Mactan International Airport, Cebu, other airports may have different rules). This fee cannot be avoided.
Philippine citizens (and foreigners with a residence permit) are also required to pay a hefty foreign travel tax. Several exemptions exists for Filipinos having permanent residence permits in a foreign country, or who have been away from the Philippines with a temporary residence permit for more than one year, in which case you will need an exemption certificate, which can be obtained in the departure area for 100 pesos upon presentation of evidence of the above facts. Some persistence and a print-out of the rules from the DFA website may be required to obtain this certificate. For details on this travel tax, visit the Philippine Tourism Authority page on travel tax.
If you've overstayed your visa, you will be made to pay a fine, based on the number of days you've overstayed, and all visa fees you've had to pay if you had extended them properly. At their discretion, custom officials may also arrest you, and prosecute you for the offense.
Until several years ago, dual citizenship was generally not possible in the Philippines (the only exception being children born to mixed couples). However, since 28 August 2003, a new dual citizenship law is in force, which allows natural born Filipino's to re-obtain their Philippine citizenship if they had lost it due to acquiring another citizenship in a relatively simple procedure at the Philippine Embassy in your country of residence. (Be aware that not all countries allow dual citizenship, for example, in Belgium, if somebody (re-)obtains Philippine citizenship he will automatically loose his Belgian citizenship, so please carefully study the consequences of (re-)obtaining Philippine citizenship.) Note that this re-acquisition of citizenship automatically extends to your minor children, if they are indicated on the application form.
Children with at least one parent who is a Philippine citizen are automatically Philippine citizens, but unfortunately few mixed couples know this (or care about it enough). When a child is born abroad, both parents will need to go to the Philippine Embassy with their newborn child, bring the required documents (the passports of the parents, original birth certificate, which should include the details in English, and the marriage contract of the parents; non-Philippine documents need to be legalized by the department of foreign affairs of the country they come from) and fill in a birth registration form at the embassy. The embassy will put footprints on the form and forward it to Manila. While you are there, you can at the same time apply for a Philippine passport for the child - in our case the Philippine embassy in The Hague had the passport ready the same day, at a cost of 65 euros.
Having Philippine citizenship has some benefits for your children: they can legally buy land in the Philippines, and stay in the country for unlimited time without visa troubles. More information about Dual citizenship from the Bureau of Immigration.
If you're not a former natural born Filipino, and want to obtain Philippine citizenship, you will be required to give up your original citizenship. Naturalization is possible after 10 years (5 years if married to a Filipino) of legal residence in the Philippines. In either case, the process is costly and takes considerable time, and it is probably best to consult a lawyer specialized in this field before getting into the process.
Since many questions asked here are about how a foreigner and a Filipino can marry, I have added a separate page on that subject.
More information and addresses of embassies and consulates can be found on the website of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). The details of Philippine immigration rules are available on the website of the Bureau of Immigration.
Citizens from most non-western countries, including India, Pakistan, China, and most African countries require visa before entry. Please study the website of the DFA carefully, and then contact the Philippine embassy in your country of residence for further information. A list of addresses is on the DFA website. Without a visa, citizens of those countries will be denied entry, detained, and send back on the first flight out.
A list of Foreign Embassies and Foreign Consulates in the Philippines.
Please read this page carefully before asking questions in the feedback section below. Do not ask questions about individual cases. I will delete such questions and also any question already answered in this article, or outside the scope of this article.