Applying for a Philippine Visa: What You Should Know

 Applying for a Philippine Visa: What You Should Know

The Philippines is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia, consisting of over a thousand islands. It is a country known for its countless, sandy beaches, stunning natural beauty, and culture. To visit the Philippines, you may have to apply for a Philippines visa, although citizens of several countries are exempted.

The visa policy of the Philippines is not very severe. Citizens of several countries, including EU Member States, Canada, Australia, and the US can enter the Philippines visa-free. However, the visa-free entry permission only applies to short-term stays (up to 59 days, depending on the country). For stays longer than 59 days, you will have to get a visa or at least a visa extension.

The Different Type of Visa Available for the Philippine

There are three main types of visas which the Philippine government issues to foreign residents:

Philippine Non-Immigrant Visas, which are issued to foreigners who are visiting for a short period of time and who do not qualify to become permanent residents of the Philippines. This includes:

  • Philippines Tourist Visas, to foreigners who are entering the Philippines for recreational purposes.
  • Philippines Business Visas, to foreigners entering the Philippines for business-related purposes, such as to attend a meeting, conference, sign a deal, etc.
  • Philippines Student Visas, for foreigners who will enroll in higher education institutions in the Philippines
  • Philippines Work Visas, to foreigners who have a pre-arranged work offer with a Filipino company.

Philippine Immigrant Visas, issued to foreigners who fall under one of the following categories:

  • Quota Immigrants: Highly-skilled foreigners who will be of benefit to the Philippines, and who are from countries that have a reciprocal agreement with the Philippines
  • Former citizens of the Philippines
  • The spouse and/or child(ren) under the age of 21 of Filipino citizens

Philippines Special Visas, which includes the following:

  • Special Investors Resident Visa (SIRV), issued to foreigners investing in a manufacturing or service company in the Philippines, a company listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange, or in a project listed on the Philippines Investment Priority Plan.
  • Special Visa for Employment Generation (SVEG), issued to foreigners who hire at least ten Filipinos on their company/organization.
  • Special Resident Retiree Visa (SRRV), issued to foreigners who wish to retire in the Philippines.

Philippines Tourist Visa (Temporary Stay)

A Philippines Tourist Visa is a short-term visa, which is issued to visa-required foreigners who will enter the Philippines for:

  • Tourism/sightseeing
  • Medical treatment
  • Conducting business
  • Attending a cultural, academic, or sports event
  • Visiting family members
  • Any other short-term purpose which does not require the holder to work

This is the type of visa you have to apply for if you do not intend to set up permanent residence in the Philippines, but will simply stay there for a short period of time. Passport holders of several countries are exempted from holding a Philippines Tourist Visa, while those who need it can apply for it at an Embassy or Consulate of the Philippines abroad.

Countries That are not Eligible for a Philippines Visa On Arrival

Citizens of all countries can apply for a Philippines Visa On Arrival, except those from the following countries:

BangladeshBelarusBosnia and HerzegovinaChinaCuba
MontenegroNauruNigeriaNorth KoreaNorth Macedonia
PakistanPalestineSierra LeoneSerbiaSomalia
South SudanSri LankaSudanSyriaTaiwan

To apply for a Philippines Visa On Arrival, you have to download the Visa On Arrival application form from the website of the Philippines Immigration Bureau.

How long does it take to process a Philippines Visa application?

It takes anywhere between two to ten working days to process a Philippines visa application. The time it takes for a visa to be processed depends on the specific Embassy or Consulate in which you apply. Whether you have all your documents in order or not also affects the processing time of your application. However, you should always apply well in advance of the time you intend to travel.

The Requirements for the Philippines Visa

The standard set of documents everyone who applies for a Philippines visa  must have are:

  • Philippines Visa Application Form, which you can usually find at the Embassy/Consulate in which you are applying or on their website. Completed and signed.
    • Submit as many copies as you are required (usually one or two)
  • Passport, valid for at least another six months and which has at least two blank pages to affix the visa in.
    • You may also have to submit photocopies of the personal information page on your passport and previous visas.
  • Passport-size pictures, with the following requirements:
    • Dimensions: 35 mm x 45 mm
    • Colored (not black and white)
    • White background
    • Recent (no older than three months)
    • You must be staring ahead, with a neutral facial expression
    • Your entire face must be visible, so your hair has to be pushed away from your face
    • Glasses are allowed, as long as they do not obscure your face or eyes (no thick rims, no tinted glass)
    • Headgear is only allowed for religious purposes, and as long as it does not obscure the face
  • Reserved return-flight ticket or a ticket for onward travel.
  • Proof of sufficient financial means to cover the duration of your stay in the Philippines (bank statements, pay slips, etc).
  • Proof of employment, based on your status:
    • If you are employed: Letter from your employer
    • If you are a student: Letter from your school
    • If you are self-employed: Business registration certificate
  • Payment of the Philippines visa fee
Please note that:
  • Birth certificates, marriage certificates, diplomas, qualifications, and other documents issued in your country of residence have to be verified and authenticated at the Philippine Embassy in your country before you submit them.
  • The documents have to be either in English or Filipino when you submit them. If they are not, you must have them translated by a professional translator before submission. Make sure to learn the exact language requirements before translating anything, however.
  • Depending on where you apply, you may have to submit both the original as well as a photocopy of a document.


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