Philippine Visa Requirements & Return Ticket Policy

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I ran across this informative article on the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines website. If you’re considering living and working in the Philippines, this material should prove to be quite useful. Having the right type of visa can save you a lot of time, money and frustration.


 U.S. Citizens planning to enter and visit the Philippines for 30 days or less do not need a visa prior to travel to the Philippines, provided their U.S. passport is valid and they have a valid return ticket.

The Return Ticket Conundrum

The Philippine Bureau of Immigration website has this to say about return tickets, aka “onward tickets”:

What are arrival requirements for Philippine-destined alien tourists?

For aliens with diplomatic or bilateral agreements with the Philippines:

  1. Unexpired passport;
  2. Unexpired entry visa; and
  3. Validly-issued return ticket.

Non-visa required aliens shall be admitted an initial 30-days.

For aliens without bilateral agreements with the Philippines:

Unexpired passport;

  1. Unexpired entry visa; and

(Philippine Foreign Post (PFP)-listed highly restricted aliens shall secure visa only at the PFP in their country of origin or legal residence.)

  1. Validly-issued return ticket.

Note: The passport shall have at least six months’ validity beyond intended stay, unless the alien belongs to a non-visa required country who may be admitted into the Philippines with less than six months’ valid passports upon arrival and whose embassies/consulate extend or renew their passports in the Philippines.

Who are exempt from the return ticket requirement?    

  1. Philippine passport holders;
  2. Former Filipinos and their dependents (immediate family members);
  3. Permanent residents and holders of other special visa categories   requiring temporary residents (with valid ACR I-Cards);      
    1. Passports of recognized foreign-government officials;
    2. Visa under CA 613, Sec. 9, except Sec.  9(a), and 47(a)(2)  where visa validity extends beyond passport expiration date, provided, an embassy or consulate is maintained in the Philippines; and
    3. Those admitted by the Commissioner on humanitarian grounds.

While researching this post I came across several websites which offered fake return tickets for ridiculously low prices. While the owner of one of these sites claimed he used a fake ticket itinerary to enter the Philippines several times, I would not recommend this practice.


Non-immigrants are temporary visitors in the Philippines, such as tourists, transients, seamen, diplomats/foreign government officials, treaty traders/investors, students, and pre-arranged employees. For general information on tourist/immigration matters check the BI Info Center.

  • Tourist Visa. If you intend to stay in the Philippines longer than thirty (30) days, a visa must be secured. A fifty-nine (59) day visa can be obtained at the Philippine Consular Office which has jurisdiction over your area before traveling to the Philippines. If you are already in the Philippines, you may file for a 29-day visa waiver (entry 30 days + 29 day waiver = 59 days). Visa waivers are issued at the Bureau of Immigration, in Intramuros, Manila before the expiration date of your authorized stay or with one of their sub-ports in different cities located throughout the Philippines. Tourist visas are issued under three main classifications:
  • Pleasure. For tourists and other visitors to the Philippines. It cannot be used to engage in gainful employment or for business, or to take up educational courses in any learning institution in the Philippines.
  • The purpose of the temporary stay is to search for areas of investment. It does not allow you to engage in any activity which may be considered a form of gainful employment.
  • Health. This is granted to those whose intention is to convalesce from a serious injury or illness. The illness, however, should not be contagious or dangerous.
  • Treaty Traders/Investors Visa. For foreigners entering the Philippines solely to carry on trade or commerce between the Philippines and the United States of America pursuant to an existing treaty of commerce and navigation. Specific requirements for Special Investor visas. BI info
  • Pre-arranged Employment Visa. This working visa is for those who are coming to the Philippines to engage in any lawful occupation, whether for wages or salary or for other forms of compensation where a legitimate employer-employee relationship exists.
  • Student Visa. For students over fifteen (15) having means sufficient for his/her education and support in the Philippines and intends solely to take up a course of study higher than high school at a university, seminary, academy, college or school approved for such alien students by the Commissioner of Immigration.
  • Seaman Visa.This visa is available to a seaman serving in a vessel arriving at a port of the Philippines and seeking to enter temporarily and solely in pursuit of his calling as a seaman.

Extension of Non-Immigrant Visas

Applications for extension of a visa, a visa waiver, or a change of status while in the Philippines must be filed through the BI. Forms may be turned into the main office in Manila or one of the numerous sub-ports throughout the Philippines. The applicants presence is not always required when filing for extension. Check with BI or the sub-port for clarification.

  1. Use BI form RBR 98-02 (legal-size paper only) for:
  • Temporary visitors who entered without a visaand who wish to extend their initial twenty-one day pass through a visa waiver
  • Temporary visitors who entered with a fifty-nine day visa who wish to extend their stay
  • Former Philippine citizens who entered on a one year Balikbayan statusand who wish to extend their stay
  • Extensions are granted on an ad hoc basis and the final decision for approval and length of extension are granted at the discretion of the BI official.
  1. Use BI form RBR 98-01 (front and back, legal-size paper only) for:
  • Recognition as a Filipino Citizen
  • Amendment from Probationary to Permanent Resident
  • Change of Status(a) by marriage, (b) to temporary resident, (c) to treaty trader or investor, (d) to pre-arranged employee visa, or (e) to special non-immigrant visa
  • Extension of (a) treaty trader or investor, (b) pre-arranged investor, or (c) temporary resident visa
  • Cancellation of Alien Registry
  1. Extensions for students under Section 9(f): Page 1 2
  2. Use this BI form (legal-size paper only) for:
  • Re-entry permit
  • Special Return Certificate (SRC)
  • Certificate of Exemption
  • Exit Clearance Certificate


Quota Immigrant Visa

For Americans who seek entry to the Philippines for permanent residence, but who do not qualify under any of the categories of for non-quota immigration, the Philippines admits as immigrants a quota of fifty (50) for any one calendar year.

Non-Quota Immigrant Visa

  • Marriage. For the foreign spouse or the unmarried child under 21 years of age of a Philippine citizen, if accompanying or following to join such citizen.
  • Returning Resident. For a foreigner who previously was lawfully admitted to the Philippines for permanent residence and who is returning from a temporary visit abroad to an unrelinquished residence in the Philippines.
  • Returning former Philippine Citizen. For a natural born citizen of the Philippines, who has been naturalized in the US and is returning to the Philippines for permanent residence, including his spouse and minor unmarried children.
  • Balikbayan Status. For former Philippine citizens who are visiting the Philippines (balikbayans). This entry is valid for one year; after one year, the balikbayan has to pay monthly extension fees on top of fees for Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR), Head Tax, Certificate of Temporary Residence Visa (CTRV.) Extensions are granted on an ad hoc basis and the final decision for approval and length of extension are granted at the discretion of the BI official. Use BI form RBR 98-02 for extensions.


Author: The Kano

POST AUTHOR: "THE KANO" aka "THE CRUSTY OLD EXPAT." Dave DeWall, "The Kano", is the Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of "Philippines Plus" in publication since August 2009. He is also the CEO of Lizard Poop Productions and author of the best-selling guide book "The Philippines Expat Advisor." Dave moved to the Philippines in July 2009 from Central Illinois with his lovely wife of over 19 years, "The Sainted Patient Wife." The couple reside in a rural province in Western Visayas, Guimaras. The small island province is said to have the sweetest mangoes in the world. They do not have any children but are the proud owners of eight active canines, including a Belgian Shepherd called "Killer" "Killer" has bitten five people in the last two years along with one goat and a carabao. "Killer" doesn't like strangers. Or goats. Or carabaos.