A passport to Manila is required with at least 6 months validity remaining before expiration. No visa is required except for stateless persons and those countries with which the Philippines does not have diplomatic relations or those considered as restricted nationals. You must present an “onward” i.e. outbound ticket unless you have alien residency status. You are initially given a 21-day stay under a tourist visa which can be extended for another 38 days. Should you need to stay longer, you will be required to justify your extension of stay.
• Passports – Applications and renewal forms, contact information for the USA and Philippines.
• Visas – There are several specific visas that allow you to live, work and bring your family into the Philippines. Ask your company to notify the legal services of the firm in the Philippines to begin efforts to clarify your status. Contact information for the Bureau of Immigration and an immigration lawyer are also listed.
Keep abreast of expiration dates on all family members passports/visas. Besides your original passport, you will need to supply 2 X 2 photographs of all family members and sign several forms when applying or renewing visas or passports. Depending upon your status, you may need to be finger printed. You may be required to renew your visa annually.
Effective April 8, 2002, U.S. passports will no longer be issued abroad in U.S. embassies or consulates. Because of a new digitized photo and other enhanced security features, re-issuance of overseas passports has been transferred to a passport processing center in the U.S. This will increase the time it takes to receive a new or renewed passport. U.S. embassies and consulates will still issue “limited validity” passports that are needed for urgent travel. This “limited validity” passport must be exchanged, at no additional cost, for a full validity, digitized passport upon completion of urgent travel.
Philippine Embassy in the United States, 1600 Massachusetts Ave.Washington D.C. 20036Telephone (202) 467-9300fax: 202-467-9417 www.embassyonline.comConsulates in Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Guam, San Diego, and Saipan.
There are several classifications of visas when in the Philippines. Be sure you or your firm find a reputable lawyer to assist you with this matter. The following are the current types of visas:
9 (a) – temporary visitor/tourist 9(g) – pre-arranged employee 9 (d) – treaty traders (Available to German, Japanese and American citizens only) 9 (E) – diplomat 47 (a)2 – investors visa or for expatriates of companies that re registered with the Board of Investment Section 13 – Quota permanent resident visa 13A – non-quota permanent resident visa Officials/Employees of Regional Offices or holders of an Executive Order no. 226 (EO 226) Retirees visa – person who are at least 50 years of age
The Department of Foreign Affairs Republic of the Philippines – for complete list of Visa requirements to enter the Philippines. More information contact Visa Division at 831-8971, 834-4854 and 834-4961, Department of Foreign Affairs, 2330 Roxas Blvd. Pasay City or to any Philipine Embassy or Consulate abroad.
The Bureau of Immigration
www.immigration.gov.ph — has two locations; the main office is in Intramuros, BOI Building, Magallanes Dr., 527-3248 or the Makati branch, G/F, Board of Investments Bldg., Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue. The office is open from 9:00-4:00 M-F. BOI information is available at telephone 899-3831 or 897-5335.
To contact a reputable immigration attorney for assistance and information email[email protected]
Philippine Government web sites: to contact other departments and agencies within the Philippines go to www.neda.gov.ph Philippine National Economic and Development Authority, see “Government Sites” for a listing of departments and agencies.
Some things are beginning to fall into place, but sometimes at this stage, your head feels stuffed to capacity and you feel like you have more questions than there can possibly be answers for. Take a minute to inventory how far you have come (look at the site map and check off those “Hey, I’ve already done that.”) Some more practicalities to get through, and then the fun things – travel, shopping, playing with friends and family – can be yours!
Moving on to Manila
Congratulations, you’ve done it! You have survived a major move and a massive readjustment. If you have not yet had the opportunity to do so, now is the time to learn about our host country, the Philippines.
This section deals with things specific to the Philippines. Take the opportunity to learn as much as you can and to teach your children. Everyone will have a better appreciation for the Philippines if they know something about her history, culture and traditions.
Issues for Americans in Manila
The Philippines has been in the news a lot lately. How safe is it to live in Manila? Are there special precautions my family will have to take?
Yes, it still is safe to live in Manila; however, awareness of personal/family security should be high at this time. Be aware that you will be subjected to “body searches” (physical pat down) and your purse/packages opened prior to entering most malls and stores. Car trunks and chassis are currently being checked prior to parking in most shopping areas.
Children and domestic helpers should be taught to never divulge any personal information about your family or residence, either in person or over the phone. Instruct them when answering the phone that if someone inquires “who is this” or “what number is this”, to always answer with “who are you calling or what number are you trying to reach?” Then, they can respond with, “no, there is no one here by that name, or no, you have the wrong number.”
Always drive with your car doors locked and try to vary the routes taken, especially to work and school. As in any urban setting, children should never be left unsupervised. Go to the Feature section for more helpful information regarding security.
Will I be able to get unlimited Internet access for a fixed monthly low price? What type of service (modem, dial up) is available? How reliable is the service? Can I establish a provider and get an email address prior to my move?
Currently, in selected neighborhoods in Manila, there is both modem and dial up service to choose from. Cable modem is a very popular option, not only because of its speed. Most houses have only one telephone line and cable modem eliminates the need for either a second phone line (almost impossible to get) or endlessly tying up your one phone.
There are certain security issues with modems and it is a more expensive option. The modem itself can run P13,000 and you must buy and install an Ethernet card. Both services are fairly reliable, though the dial up numbers are frequently busy.
Many expats use an email account, like hotmail, yahoo or juno, that can be accessed from anywhere, and use this account either permanently or until they have secured a residence. Most hotels have a business center from which you can collect and send emails in the internet.
Should I bring my mobile phone from the USA? If not, how do I go about getting mobile phone service in Manila?
Most of the world, including the Philippines, uses the GSM system which is not compatible with the cell phone that you are using in the US. Unless you have a triband phone, you are better off buying a phone in the Philippines. Both Smart and Globe offer comparable service and there are many retailers carrying these products. You will find that having one or more cellular phones is invaluable as it is difficult to make calls at public pay phones and landlines into homes are often “out of service.” For more information, see Cellular Phones
Are there dive sites within a day’s outing from Manila? Can my family and I become certified through an internationally recognized program in Manila?
Yes, there are dive sites in Anilao, Batangas that are considered quite good and depending on traffic, can be done as a day trip from Manila. However, there are many wonderful destinations that make wonderful weekend getaways, a chance to really unwind! The most common type of training in the Philippines is done by PADI certified trainers. There are a number of dive shops and programs in Manila where you can start your certification. Most of these programs are also affiliated with a resort so that the ocean dives can be completed. However, many beach resorts in the Philippines offer comprehensive diver certification programs from Open Water to Dive Master classes. There is an excellent book, “The Dive Sites of the Philippines” by Jack Jackson, available at most Manila bookstores, that discusses certification options and also has wonderful guides to both dive and snorkeling areas.
How do expats manage to pay US bills while residing in Manila? Should I open a US dollar account and a peso account at a local bank?
Most US expats will maintain US based checking accounts which can be used to pay bills stateside. However, there are ever increasing options for paying bills and managing accounts online. You should check with your US bank prior to your move for the options that they offer. There are also a number of Internet based businesses that will collect (for a monthly fee) and pay all your bills, with your authorization. Most expats will open a peso based account at a local bank to pay Philippine bills. With the devaluation of the peso against the US dollar, beware of converting too many dollars at any one time. For much more information on banking and other financial options, go to Money Matters.
How do I find trustworthy maids and drivers? Do all maids and drivers live-in?
The best way to get reliable helpers is through word-of-mouth–expats who are leaving, returning expats who may know of a great unemployed domestic worker etc. Talk to people you meet and check the AWCP Domestic Registry (an established expat will be able to give you information about the Domestic Registry). ALWAYS check references and require a pre-employment physical (at your expense but absolutely imperative). Most maids will live in, but it is very common to have drivers who live out.
Are there good restaurants, nightclubs available in Manila? Does Manila offer any cultural opportunities such as symphony, ballet and opera?
Manila has a thriving nightlife which includes many wonderful restaurants offering all types of cuisine. There are nightclubs and many night spots for listening to music. In addition, there are many cultural opportunities including the ballet, Repertory Theater, symphony, art exhibitions etc. Our “Links” sections has numerous online sites which offer guides to things to do in Manila.
What are the 10 most important things that I should bring with me to Manila?
1. Medications (prescription & over the counter) for you, your children and your pets for at least several months until you know what is available and where.
2. Personal Records & Documents-medical/dental/vet records, legal documents such as birth/marriage certificates with raised seal, passport current for at least 6 months, driver’s license, academic records, banking and account information, wills etc.
3. Air cleaners and filters
4. Small safe
5.Tools for hanging pictures and minor household repairs.
6. Spare parts/accessories for any appliances that you bring (including vacuum cleaner bags).
7. First aid kit
8. Traditional holiday or important religious items.
9. Address books, including those email addresses.
10. Fire extinguishers, fire escape ladder and smoke detectors. For more suggestions, see What to Bring
Is it always hot and humid in Manila? Any advice on adjusting to tropical heat?
Summer months, starting in Feb. or March through June or July, are extremely hot and humid. The rainy season is from July/Nov. The coolest and clearest months are roughly Dec.-Feb., but it is still always above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The best advice is to go slow, don’t overdo activities in the beginning, bring appropriate light, cotton clothing, and keep hydrated.
How do I go about searching for a home in Manila?
Contact one of the Realtors listed in this site before moving. Visit the Real Estate section in this site to get a feel for the market price of rental homes, see pictures of the style of houses available, learn about the neighborhoods where expats tend to reside, and research the pros and cons of options available such as pools, gardens, apartments etc. Upon arrival, you can visit these locations with your contact. Also ask all the people that you meet about houses that may be available or any that they think may be coming available.