When researching my move I was very concerned about the visa process. Some countries allow you stay as a permanent tourist easily, some don’t. If you don’t follow the rules some countries slap you with a fine – some put you in jail! So I wanted to do it right. I found a lot of conflicting information from various sites about the Philippines tourist visa. Even the official Philippines Bureau of Immigration site is not updated regularly – honestly it is not online regularly! So I will say right now that none of this information may apply to you when you read this. Not just because they make changes to the rules without updating the information online but also because I have found that the fees I pay are not what other people pay. So maybe different clerks charge differently? That would not make sense most places – but welcome to the Philippines. On the forums you will see a lot “YMMV” Your mileage may vary. What do you want – consistency? The information is the most current officially posted information as of 25SEP13, and I will most likely not be updating this page. Also, the last pic of my information is what I actually paid, regardless of the posted prices. Now I see why so much information online conflicts.
The posted fees are taken from http://immigration.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=118&Itemid=43. They say you get an automatic 21 day visa upon arrival from most countries, but it has been changed to a 30 day initial visa. Also there is now a 6 month extension available in addition to the 2 month extension. Neither of these changes are on their website. As I said this is really just for informational purposes – not a good reference of actual cost. Oh, one of my favorite types of guys on the forum is one who has never been here but has done his research and is “an expert”. God help you if you dare to contradict his information. What they say is almost always according to the web site – but I would rather listen to someone who has actually been here and done it. All you can do is ignore them and laugh to yourself about it. So I will show you the posted fee, compared to my actual fee. Enough disclaimers? Ok.
In my situation the tourist visa seemed to be the easiest choice. The retirement visa is very expensive ($1,400 USD application fee – non refundable, and depending on your age and situation either a $10,000, $20,000, or $50,000 deposit locked into a bank -may be converted to an investment). The 13A & Balikbayan visas are if you are married to a Filipino. So for me a tourist visa. The tourist visa is a relatively painless process. If you are in a heavily expat populated area, like Manila, Cebu, or Angeles City, I hear the lines are pretty long. Here in Iloilo there is never a line. I don’t think there has ever been more than 2 people in front of me. And the staff is very helpful and friendly. Which is contrary to the horrid customer service you get most places in the Philippines (it is just not a service related economy).
Basically you go to immigration with cash, your passport, 2 copies of your passport, and 2 copies of your latest visa stamp page from your passport. Sometimes they ask me for 1 copy… sometimes 2. So I always take 2. They say they will NOT make copies at the office and there are copy places surrounding the building, but one time I forgot my copies and they made them for me. But don’t count on it. I always try to get copies as I am leaving immigration so I will have them when I go back and don’t worry about forgetting to get them on the way in. Just seems easier for me.
On your 2nd extension you have to get the ACR-I card. A photo ID with some biodata. You will need to bring a few 2×2 passport style photos. I was told different amounts every time I asked, and don’t remember how many they actually took (2?). But you will need these for opening bank accounts etc here anyway so I went to a photo shop at the mall and got half a dozen 2×2 and 1×1 pics for a couple dollars. I just keep them in my passport in case I need them. I have only one 1×1 left. Time to get more.
As you can see most of the fees are about right. But it seems to me, from an American perspective, that the posted fees should be the actual fees charged. Again all I can say is welcome to the Philippines! I am not complaining about the differences. I am actually more amused by it. And you better have a good attitude if you come over here. It drives some of the guys crazy – and it will if you let it. Go with the flow. Let everything slide off your back. And you will be ok ha ha.
Here is the first extension price list they show. As I said it is now a 30 day initial visa instead of 21 days. If you check my chart at the bottom you will see this is exactly what I paid.
This is for the 2nd extension. But as you can see when comparing my cost it is not what I paid. I had an additional p2,030 for the ACR card that they don’t list, and again no Express Fee (not complaining about that one… just saying). I cut out the fees for minors on this chart.
~Edit~ Oops I just noticed they list the ACR as $50 USD, which is about p2,000 depending on the exchange rate of the day. So it makes it a lot closer to what I actually paid.
This is the 3rd extension. This is about what I paid on my 3rd extension. The differences are the Express Fee, of course, and I paid for a 2 month extension for p1,000 where they list it as p500 per month. So simple math and this one is right.
This last one is for after 6 months. They charge a p1,400 Certificate of Residency. I don’t know what that means other than they charge another p1,400. And if you add another p500 for my 2nd month, and deduct the Express Fee it is the same as I paid.
Update. Here is the 1 year total visa extension fees: