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Fri. Apr 16th, 2021

Move to the Philippines from USA: 5 Basic Steps

First of all, you need a passport to travel out of the United States. But you already knew that, right? However, you can move to the Philippines from the USA without a visa. The Bureau of Immigration lets you stay for up to 30 days.

5. Obtain a Visa

Furthermore, if you arrive in the Philippines with your Filipina wife, who holds a Filipino passport, you can stay for up to a year. That’s the advantage of the Balikbayan Privilege. Make sure you have a certified copy of your marriage contract, however, which may be required upon your arrival. While we didn’t need to show our marriage contract to the Immigration officer when we first entered the Philippines, it is a requirement listed on the Immigration website.

If you plan to move to the Philippines from the USA, or any other country, you’ll need to extend your 30 day visa. You can stay for 59 days with a Temporary visitor’s visa. Don’t be a chump and stay here illegally as the arrogant Arab in Guimaras did.

philippine bureau of immigration

How to Extend the Temporary Visitor’s Visa

Non-visa required nationals may extend their stay up to thirty six (36) months. Visa required nationals may extend their stay up to twenty four (24) months. (Non-visa required nationals cover 157 countries. Check the Bureau of Immigration website for the complete list.)

The applicant’s latest recorded arrival date in the Philippines determines the start time for the extension.

For example, if you arrived in the Philippines for an initial 30-day stay on May 1st, 2019 and didn’t leave the country, May 1st 2019 is the starting point of your extension.

Make sure you file for your visa extension application seven (7) days before your Temporary Visitors’ visa expires.

visa passport


However, be aware that some local Bureau of Immigration offices may refuse to extend your temporary visa’s visa. That has been the case for some foreigners I know who have had difficulties at the Iloilo City Immigration Office. Though these foreigners met all the requirements for an extension, the Iloilo branch refused to extend their visas.

Consequently, one expat went to the Immigration Office in Cebu instead and was immediately given an extension, no questions asked.

Move to the Philippines from USA: 5 Basic Steps

If you’re married to a Filipina your best bet is to have your spouse sponsor you for a 13 (a) Permanent Resident Visa. While you’ll have to renew your Alien Certificate of Registration Identity Card, ACR I-Card, every five years, your visa itself never has to be renewed.

Furthermore, however, if you screw up, you can get the boot. You’ll wind up on Immigration’s “naughty list,” their Black List Order (BLO.) A Black List Order disallows a foreign national entry into the Philippines.

One of the grounds for inclusion on the Black List is when a foreign national shows disrespect or makes offensive utterances to symbols of Philippine authority. Doesn’t matter if you have a Permanent Resident Visa or not. Rude foreigners risk being banned from the Philippines.

Not married to a Filipino? Check out the Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV.)

Image from Pixabay

4. Shipping your Stuff to the Philippines

We sold most of our household goods before moving to the Philippines from the US almost ten years ago. We sold what we didn’t want to ship in garage sales. The items we planned to bring to the Philippines were shipped in five large balikbayan boxes. At the time, each box cost 125 US dollars to ship.

20 ft. shipping containers from the USA to Manila are being advertised as low as $1,075. 40 ft. containers are going for $1,605.

We didn’t feel the need to obtain any shipping containers. In retrospect, I wished we would have shipped all my tools from the US in a balikbayan box. I ended up giving a lot of tools away. In contrast, we did ship a 25-inch Panasonic television and my computer. For both of those items we had to obtain a voltage transformer in order to operate them.

We now have four new televisions in our home. I’m on my second new computer since moving here. The PC from the United States lasted a couple of years more before the heat and humidity got to it.

Overseas Filipinos are known as “balikbayans,” hence the term “balikbayan box.” Freight forwarders specializing in balikbayan boxes by sea often ship these boxes. It only took one month for our boxes to be shipped to our doorstep in Guimaras.

3. Find a Place to Live

So you’ve finally got your visa squared away, right? Your stuff is shipped. Therefore you’ll need a place to stay in the Philippines. If you’re like me, you move to the place where your Filipina spouse comes from. In our case, that was Guimaras, an island province in Western Visayas.

It’s pretty quiet in Guimaras aside from fiesta time. I like to call it the “Mayberry RFD” of the Philippines. If you’re an old geezer like me, you’ll get that “Mayberry” reference. If you’re looking for exciting nightlife, Guimaras isn’t the place for you. Unless, however, the annual Manggahan Festival is in progress.

Of course, living near the relatives is a strict violation of the “Three-Hour Rule.  If you want to avoid being pestered by relatives asking for “loans,” it’s best to live at least three hours away from any relative.


relatives from manila were on hand to sing

Be prepared to have a lot of relatives come to visit you

Many foreigners recommend living at various locations throughout the Philippines for a while. See how you like it. Hence, you can find the place that best suits you.

There’s lots of places I would recommend aside from our home province of Guimaras. Nearby Iloilo City is a good place for foreigners looking for big city life without the hassles of living in Metro Manila.

Bacolod City. Cebu City. Two other places my wife and I have visited occasionally. Recommend them both.

2. Cost of Living Comfort Zone

There is absolutely no way to predict how much a person will need to comfortably live in the Philippines. A lot depends on your lifestyle and your location.

You’ll find it cheaper to live in a province like Guimaras. A single guy could live on our island province with a budget of 50,000 pesos, approximately 1,000 US dollars. You could live here cheaper than that if you’re really frugal.

Be advised that the Philippine Bureau of Immigration is cracking down on what they call “public charges.” If you don’t have a visible means of support, the Philippine government doesn’t want you to end up homeless and hungry. They’ll send you back to your home country.

The US Embassy in Manila will tell you to borrow money from a relative or a friend. The Philippine government isn’t going to give you a handout.

My advice? Have a pension like Social Security. Finding a job as a foreigner in the Philippines is extremely difficult. In addition, the government is scrutinizing and limiting the work permits they have been issuing to foreigners.

Image from Pixabay

My best-selling guide to living in the Philippines, “The Philippines Expat Advisor”, reveals how you can move to the Philippines faster, easier and cheaper.

It gives you practical advice for living on a limited budget and adopting a “native lifestyle.” If you want to live a comfortable, relatively stress-free life in the Philippines, this is the book for you.

If you’re moving from the USA to the Philippines, the Philippine Peso to US Dollar exchange rate has been hovering in the 51-52 peso per dollar range. That’s a lot better than the 41-1 rate we experienced several years ago.

1. Cultural Challenges

You’re sure to experience a certain degree of “culture shock” when you move to the Philippines from the USA or most any country. Peeing in public is common. A vast disregard for the Rules of the Road exists.

Language differences and communication with the locals is not that difficult. You can usually find someone who understands enough English to help you. Filipinos are generally friendly. I only know a few phrase and words. I’m “too old and too lazy to learn” is my stock answer for anyone who asks me why I don’t learn the language.

Furthermore, my Filipina wife and I usually travel together.

Personally, I had a difficult time adjusting to the heat and humidity. “Filipino Time,” where being on time is the exception rather the norm, is also frustrating at times.

Pregnant dogs roaming inside Mass on a Sunday morning. Armed guards in drugstores and shopping malls. Fiestas lasting into the wee hours of the morning. Surprisingly rude Filipinos butting in line. Regular brown outs, power outages. It’s all part of the cultural challenges of living in the Philippines.

Public urinal in Iloilo city. Proud project of local barangay captain

You could be a Movie Star in the Philippines

In the Philippines, you can become a celebrity the minute you exit the Manila airport and officially enter the Philippines.

A group of elementary school girls mistook me for an American movie star a few years.

My lovely asawa and I were taking one of our morning walks near our new domicile in the Philippines. We had pressed on that day and gone further down our path and reached a small town about 40 minutes from our house.

Up and down the road my wife was remarking how “everyone’s heads were rolling off” in an effort to catch a glimpse of this American expat in the Philippines. My spouse wanted to visit a high school classmate that lived nearby.

As we approached an elementary school, a group of young girls were buzzing louder than a hive of African killer bees on crack. I couldn’t understand a word they were saying but I noticed a lot of smiles.

My wife squeezed my hand and told me what one of the young ladies had said:

“He must be an American movie star!”

Only in the Philippines.

Frankly, I’ve had young Filipinas chasing after and actually screaming as I drove off in the back of a jeepney or tricycle. You’ll get choice front row seating at many events. It’s incredible and something you’ll have to adjust to once you move to the Philippines.

My lovely asawa overlooking the Underground River Palawan

My lovely asawa overlooking the Underground River in Palawan

Finding a Partner in the Philippines

I was fortunate to find my Filipina wife almost 20 years ago. She’s a beautiful, caring, loving, loyal and hardworking person. She’s a continual blessing to him. She has an inordinate amount of patience. The story of how we met, through a pen pal service, can be found HERE.

Thousands, if not millions, of others have come to the Philippines looking for love. Frankly, if you’re a single guy in the Philippines and you can’t find a good wife or girlfriend, you probably can’t find one anywhere.

If you’re looking for a partner before you arrive in the Philippines, I highly recommend “Filipino Cupid.” I’ve been advertising their dating service for years and personally know couples that have met through “Cupid.”

Check out “Filipino Cupid” by clicking on the following LINK.

Sure, I make a few bucks commission if you sign up, but I’ve been doing this now for almost ten years. I don’t recommend any service on this website unless I personally believe in it.

Move to  the Philippines from USA: 5 Basic Steps

So if you’re planning to move to the Philippines from the USA or any other country, keep in mind these basics:

1. Obtain a proper visa

2. Ship your stuff

3. Check out possible locations to live

4. Make sure you have adequate means to support your lifestyle in the Philippines

5. Be prepared for cultural challenges

Learn to cope with cultural challenges and your “celebrity” status. Remember, you’re a visitor. Respect the locals and respect the culture. Don’t be a moron.

Some foreigners have stated it takes at least three years to adapt to living in the Philippines. It’s hard to say. I’ve been here 10 years in July. While I’ve learned to adjust to life outside of the States, there’s always something new I discover about living in “paradise.” Consequently, that makes life interesting and challenging.


By 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 21 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 Malinois called "Killer" "Killer" has bitten five people over the years along with one goat and a carabao. "Killer" doesn't like strangers. Or goats. Or carabaos.

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