Travelling in another country will always require plenty of preparation. Heading to the Philippines is no different as you’ll need the necessary tickets, passport and visa in order to stay in the country. However, being ready for travel doesn’t stop at getting our papers in order. What people need to really be mindful about is knowing how long they’ll be able to stay in order to enjoy their time in the country.
What Your Philippines Visa Gets You
The most basic paperwork a foreign national could have when travelling to the Philippines is a Philippine Visa. Travelers can get their visas processed at a Philippine embassy or consulate before they can travel to the Philippines. According to Visa Guide, there are three types of Philippine Visas that foreign travelers can apply for. These are:
- Philippines Non-Immigrant Visas, which include:
- The Philippines Tourist Visas
- Philippines Business Visas
- The Philippines Student Visas
- Philippines Work Visas
- The Philippines Immigrant Visas
- Philippines Special Visas, which include:
- Special Investors Resident Visa (SIRV)
- The Special Visa for Employment Generation (SVEG)
- Special Resident Retiree Visa (SRRV)
Philippines Non-Immigrant Visa
Philippines Non-Immigrant Visas is the type of visa given to foreigners who are only in the country for a short-term reason that doesn’t need them to work. They are also issued to foreign travelers who don’t meet the requirements for permanent residence in the Philippines.
Philippines Immigrant Visa
The Philippines Immigrant Visas are different as they are issued to former citizens of the Philippines, to the spouse and/or child(ren) under the age of 21 of Filipino citizens, and to quota immigrants, who are highly-skilled foreigners who can benefit the Philippines, and who come from countries that have a mutual agreement with the Philippines.
Philippines Special Visa
The With Philippines Special Visas, they are issued to foreigners who want to invest in a manufacturing or service company in the Philippines, a company on the Philippine Stock Exchange list, or in a project under the Philippines Investment Priority Plan. Lastly, it is also issued to foreigners who want to retire in the Philippines.
The Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines also lists other visa guidelines and requirements for some other specific foreign nationals. Minor children aged younger than 15 years old and traveling without company or without a parent in the Philippines require a Waiver of Exclusion Ground (WEG). It would require a notarized affidavit of consent from the child’s parent or legal guardian which would name who would be accompanying the child while they are in the country.
Foreigners who opt to use privately-owned yachts or sailboats in getting to the Philippines are also given a temporary visitor’s visa. Once they get to the Philippines, they will have to register the crew of their yacht or sailboats with the nearest Coast Guard Station. From there, they’d be required to submit their yacht or sailboat to Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine inspections.
Foreign Newsmen, Journalists, and Cinema or Television Groups who want to visit the Philippines for their work will also be given a temporary visitor’s visa and will have to submit additional requirements for their visa application. Once they reach the Philippines, they would have to head to the International Press Center (IPC) for accreditation.
There are also cases when foreign nationals want to take a short-term non-degree course. This would entail that they wouldn’t receive a Philippine student visa. Instead, they can apply for a temporary visitor’s visa, and once they arrive in the Philippines and are accepted by the school or institution that they applied for, they would have to apply for a Special Study Permit at the Bureau of Immigration’s Student Desk where they can submit their visa requirements.
By knowing which type of visa you can qualify for, you can then streamline your travel plans for your visit to the Philippines.
Is a Visa Required for Visiting the Philippines?
In general, the Philippines isn’t too tight on requiring a visa for foreign travelers. Often, a visa-free grant is applied only to nationals of benefiting countries traveling for reasons like business or tourism. People who qualify for visa-free entry into the Philippines will only need to keep their valid passport, and wouldn’t be required to apply for it before their trip or upon their arrival in the Philippines.
Visa Guide explains that this grant is often applied to foreign nationals on these reasons:
- Good diplomatic relationship
- Nationals of the beneficial country aren’t likely to illegally overstay in the visa-free country
- The beneficial country is economically developed
One of these beneficial countries is the United States. In their case, U.S. citizens who want to travel and stay in the Philippines for 30 days or less would only need a valid passport and a valid return ticket. However, the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines emphasizes that U.S. citizens who do want to stay longer than thirty days in the Philippines have to apply for a visa either before traveling to the country or upon their arrival in the Philippines at the Bureau of Immigration.
It should be noted that there are some cases where foreign travelers can only stay visa-free in the Philippines for a span of 14 days. The Philippine DFA lists them as the following:
- Holders of Hong Special Administrative (SAR) passports
- Holders of Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) passports.
The DFA also notes that the following are only allowed to stay visa-free in the Philippines for a span of 7 days:
- Holders of Macau-Portuguese passports
- Holders of Hong Kong British passports
Where You Can Apply for a Philippine Visa
As of now, there are three ways a foreign national can apply for a Philippines visa. These are:
- Applying at an Embassy or Consulate of the Philippines in your home country prior to visiting the Philippines
- When applying upon arrival at an international airport in the Philippines
- Applying online through the website of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office
When applying for a visa at your country or jurisdiction’s Embassy or Consulate of the Philippines, you’ll need to contact them for the necessary requirements about the process of application. Once you have them ready, you can provide your documents and application in person, while minors, or persons under 18 years old, can have their documents submitted by their parents or legal representatives.
In general, a temporary visa would only need the following requirements listed by the DFA:
- Passport/Travel Document Valid for at least six (6) months beyond the intended period of stay in the Philippines
- Duly Accomplished Visa application forms
- Passport Photos (2 pieces)
- Proof of bona fide status as tourist or businessman
- Confirmed tickets for return or onward journey to the next port of destination
- Payment of Visa Fees
In instances where a foreign traveler decides to apply for a visa only when they finally reach the Philippines, the DFA allows them to enter the Philippines without visas for a stay not exceeding 30 days. They would, however, have to keep their valid tickets for the return journey to their port of origin or their next port of destination, and their passports. Their passports would also need to be valid for at least 6 months beyond the amount of time they would be staying in the country.
A visa on arrival is usually done in the form of a stamp on one of the pages of a traveler’s passport, while other countries would issue it as a card or as a printed document.
Although most people can apply for a Philippines Visa upon arrival, Visa Guide notes that nationals of the following countries aren’t allowed:
|Bangladesh||Belarus||Bosnia and Herzegovina||China||Cuba|
|Montenegro||Nauru||Nigeria||North Korea||North Macedonia|
|South Sudan||Sri Lanka||Sudan||Syria||Taiwan|
As of the moment, applying for a Philippines Visa online is only applicable to Taiwanese citizens. This online visa is known as an Electronic Travel Authorization, which allows them to process and receive their authorization through the Manila Economic and Cultural Office website. By accessing the website, they only need to complete their application form and pay the fees through a credit or debit card. Once fully processed, they would be able to print the visa and present it to Immigration Officers when they reach the Philippines.
Extending One’s Stay in the Philippines
It goes without saying, of course, that a Philippine visa has an “admit until” date stamped in your passport by immigration authorities. Travelers who would want to stay beyond their initial planned period of stay would have to report to the Bureau of Immigration. There, they’d only need to get an extension of stay and pay immigration fees.
According to the Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI), foreign nationals with a Temporary Visitor’s Visa who want to extend their stay past 30 days can apply for a visa waiver. This grants them an additional stay of 29 more days in the Philippines. For extra time, foreigners can also apply for a one month extension, a 2-month extension, or a 6-month extension at least a week before the expiration of their valid stay.
The BI also notes that non-visa required foreign nationals can extend their stay up to 36 months. On the other hand, visa-required nationals can extend their stay up to 24 months. As long as travelers can stay up to date on their visa requirements and their schedules, there wouldn’t be much of a hiccup when processing extensions for extended stay.
Covid-19 and How It’s Being Handled
There is still concern over the risk of the transmission of Covid-19. For it, the Bureau of Immigration subjects Covid testing to those who want to travel to the Philippines. Quarantine of at least 14 days is also done in order to ensure efficiency in preventing the spread of the Corona Virus.
The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines notes that travelers who qualify under any of these categories can be allowed into the Philippines, with the caveat that they would take the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry until any further notice:
- Foreign nationals with valid and existing visas at the time of entry;
- Foreign nationals allowed entry under the Balikbayan Program (RA6788), provided they are nationals from non-visa-required countries under Executive Order 408:
- Former Filipino citizens, together with their foreign spouses and children, regardless of age, who are travelling with the former Filipino citizens; and
- Filipino citizens’ spouses and children, regardless of age, who are travelling with the Filipino citizen.
- Those who are foreign nationals who are holders of valid and existing Special Resident Retiree’s Visas (SRRV), may be allowed entry without the need for an Entry Exemption Document (EED).
- Foreign nationals who are holders of valid and existing 9(a) or Temporary Visitor’s Visas, provided they present, upon arrival, an EED issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Foreign nationals who aren’t covered by different testing and quarantine protocols would thus need to be subject with pre-booked accommodation for at least 10 nights in a quarantine hotel or facility, and would also be subject to Covid-19 testing at the facility on the seventh day from their date of arrival. Passengers entering the Philippines who are fully vaccinated in the country would also be required to be quarantined at a facility for seven days, with the first day being the person’s day of arrival.
On the other hand, a person who has been fully vaccinated has to always have their vaccination card. This card has to be verified at the time they were boarding, before their departure from their country of origin. A certification should also be issued before their departure by either by the Department of Information and Communications Technology or by the City Health Officer of their local government unit that provided the last dose for their full vaccination. Once the person arrives in the Philippines, the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) would need to see and verify that certification at the Department of Transportation One-Stop-Shop (OSS).
In terms of Covid-19 testing, PCR and/or antigen tests are available for U.S. citizens in the Philippines. Testing facilities would need a copy of one’s passport and proof of residence or accommodation. Paying for it is available in cash for U.S. citizens, although it’s done before testing. Of course, the cost would depend on the test given and the medical facility that charges them.
It should be noted that although vaccines are available for U.S. citizens in the Philippines, only eligible travelers would be able to have the vaccine. These include:
- Dual U.S.-Philippine citizens
- Foreign nationals and diplomats with legal residency status in the Philippines
In the meantime, U.S. citizens currently employed for private companies would need to ask their employers about what they would do for their staff’s vaccine distribution. U.S. veterans who are using healthcare benefits from the VA Manila Outpatient Clinic would also need to be up to date in communicating with their VA Clinic on Covid-19 vaccinations.
Despite the on-going restrictions from Covid-19, it hasn’t blocked off transportation options for people looking to travel. Commercial flights are still available, though there is a daily limit for the number of incoming flights. Meanwhile, the availability of public transportation will depend on local government units. Protective wear like masks and face shields will be required, of course, and the number of passengers allowed on public vehicles would be limited in order to comply with social distancing requirements.
As long as foreign nationals stay safe and vigilant with their travel habits, there won’t be any trouble with having a good time while on their stay in the Philippines. The need to be prepared for visiting the country will always be valuable, and one’s health and safety should stay a priority.
Now That You Know How Long an American Can Stay in the Philippines
Getting ready for a stay in the Philippines will always be necessary. Despite all the requirements and keeping up with documents, what really matters is that traveling to the country would mean giving oneself the time to really experience the Philippines in all its culture and liveliness. The pandemic may have put a bit of a damper on travel, but people will always find a way to get the best out of what they get.
With the Philippines, even a short visit will give any traveler a great way of seeing a bright and refreshing side of the world that we live in. Stay longer in the Pearl of the Orient and enjoy more of the many tourist spots in the Philippines.