Broke in the Philippines? Will the U.S. Govt. Bail You Out?

Seems like several expats that I’ve spoken to and corresponded with over the years didn’t move to the Philippines with adequate funds. With the Philippine Bureau of Immigration cracking down on visitors who could become “public charges,” it’s not a good idea to move to “paradise” without adequate funds. Hence, this post poses the question: Broke in the Philippines? Will the U.S. Govt. Bail You Out?”

There’s no government support services that are going to help you, as a foreigner, in the Philippines. Catholic Charity soup kitchens in our neck of the woods? Nope. No government handouts. No Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the old Food Stamp package.

However, maybe you’ll get a job in the Philippines? There aren’t enough jobs to go around for an expatriate, let alone the locals. Don’t you think there’s a reason more than 10 million Filipinos have to work overseas?

Broke in the Philippines? Will the U.S. Govt. Bail You Out?

If you’re an U.S. citizen, will the U.S. Embassy in Manila help you? The short answer: Probably not.

Here’s what the U.S. Department of State has to say on the matter at Travel.State.gov:

Emergency Financial Assistance for U.S. Citizens Abroad

Disclaimer

The information below is provided for general information only and may not be applicable in a particular case. Questions involving interpretation of specific U.S. or foreign laws should be addressed to appropriate legal counsel.

This is an official U.S. Government source. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

Temporarily Destitute Abroad

The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Overseas Citizens Services (888) 407-4747 (or from overseas +1 202-501-4444) can assist U.S. citizens who are temporarily destitute abroad. If you find yourself in such a situation, here are some options:

  • Contacting Home: U.S. citizens in need of emergency financial assistance while abroad should first attempt to contact their family, friends, banking institution, or employer. The American Citizen Services unit in the Consular Section of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate can assist in this effort, if necessary.

  • Wiring Money Directly: Use a commercial money transfer service, such as Western Union or MoneyGram ,to wire money overseas. There are money transfer cost comparison tools online to help you identify the best option. The person receiving the money will need to present proof of identity such as a passport. See our information about replacement of lost or stolen U.S. passports abroad. Be wary of International Financial Scams!

  • Banks: A destitute U.S. citizen abroad who has depleted his/her bank account can arrange for friends or family to deposit additional funds in his/her account. This option allows the traveler to use an ATM card to access funds quickly.

  • Credit Card Companies:

    Report lost/stolen credit cards immediately to your credit card company and request a replacement card via express delivery service, if available. Your credit card company may also be able to verify your credit card account directly to your hotel, airline, doctor, or hospital to enable you to check out of your hotel, obtain replacement airline tickets, or receive other emergency services. A person receiving a replacement credit card may need to present proof of identity such as a passport. Inquire about the benefits your credit card company provides you overseas before you travel abroad, including raising credit limits in case of emergency.

  • Bank to Bank Transfers: It may be possible to transfer money directly from a bank in the United States to a bank in the foreign country where the U.S. citizen can receive the funds. Some foreign banks require that the U.S. citizen establish a foreign bank account to use this option. Bank to bank transfers can take several days to accomplish.

  • Sending Money through the U.S. Department of State: When the commercial options listed above are not available or feasible due to the circumstance of the emergency, family or friends may send funds via the U.S. Department of State for delivery to a destitute U.S. citizen abroad at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

See Sending Money Overseas to a U.S. Citizen. The U.S. Department of State assesses a $30.00 fee to establish an account and transfer funds. For additional information, contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management, at (888) 407-4747 (or from overseas +1 202-501-4444).

The Naked Truth

I have to be brutally honest with you. It’s not wise to move to the Philippines without a dependable source of monthly income like a pension plan such as Social Security.

That said, the average retired worker’s Social Security benefit, for example, is $1404 per month for 2018.  The Crusty Old Expat is fortunate to have more than that coming from Uncle Sam. Some do. Some don’t. Make sure you have enough.

Oh, and by the way, that’s something I earned. I put in almost 30 years at AT&T for that “entitlement” after paying a ton of Social Security taxes. Add on a generous pay out from AT&T, and we’re living a comfortable life in the Philippines with no need to ever move back to the United States.

Consequently, I paid my dues, like so many of my readers out there. As a result, we’re reaping the rewards of years of hard work and diligent savings.

Finally, I’m not saying that you can’t move to the Philippines even without adequate savings or a guaranteed monthly source of income. I’m just saying it’s not going to be easy, brother (or sister.)

Author: The Kano

POST AUTHOR: "THE KANO." 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.