Home to some of the world’s most magnificent beaches and gigantic, bustling cities, the Philippines has attracted the attention of Western retirees for many years. Known for its combination of beautiful scenery and a relaxed, casual lifestyle, the low cost of living and stress-free lifestyle of the Philippines has made it a haven for retirees for a long time.
Unfortunately, however, compared with many other countries in Southeast and East Asia, the Philippines is a relatively difficult country to retire to. With a visa system that’s somewhat tough to understand and restrictive for foreign visitors, this tropical paradise can be something of a headache for those seeking a simple, stress-free retirement destination.
Thankfully, however, the visa system in the Philippines has improved in leaps and bounds over the past few years. A retirement visa system that allows for long-term stays has been added to the typical visa roster, and long-term retirees seeking a stable way to stay in the country over the long term no longer have to worry about using tourist visas or overstaying their welcome.
Age And Income Requirements For Philippines Retirement Visas
Unlike Thailand, which requires its retirees to be older than fifty years, the Philippines has a relatively relaxed thirty-five year old age restriction for retirees. This means that foreigners from outside the Philippines seeking an early retirement are easily able to do so without having to wait until they are older.
For retirees aged between thirty-five and fifty, there are a variety of restrictions. The first, and the most important, is that any retirees to the Philippines must have a bank balance of over $75,000 in a PRA bank account before applying for a retirement visa. For some, this balance requirement may be an issue — for others, however, it may be a relatively easy requirement to meet.
It’s worth noting that there is an exception for would-be retirees that have either served in their nation’s military, or those that have held a post in the government of their own country for three years or more. In this case, the deposit requirement is reduced to $50,000 — still a major sum for many retirees.
For retirees aged above fifty years, the $75,000 deposit requirement is waived in favor of a more relaxed $50,000 minimum deposit. As with the other requirements, this deposit must be placed in a PRA approved bank account before the retirement visa is applied for. Former Filipinos — those that were formerly residents or citizens of the Philippines — need to deposit just $1,500 to qualify.
Note that there is a $2,000 application fee for those aged under fifty years, and a $1,500 fee for those aged over fifty. Former or overseas Filipinos wishing to retire to their country of birth must pay a $1,500 fee in order to process their application. Please note that this is in addition to the minimum deposits in a PRA-approved bank account that must be made before the application is submitted.
Administrative Requirements For Philippines Retirement Visas
Along with your cash deposit, there are several other requirements to qualify for a Philippines retirement visa. The first is a certificate of good health from a complete personal medical exam. This can be carried out either within the Philippines or outside the country, but it must be viewed and approved as genuine by the Philippines consulate or embassy in the region in which you are applying for the retirement visa.
If you are married, either in the Philippines or in another country, you must include a copy of your marriage certificate. This will allow your spouse to qualify for the visa along with you. You must also provide your own birth certificate, as well as the birth certificate of your spouse if you wish to apply for a joint retirement visa.
The Philippines requires that all applicants for retirement visas provide a thorough background review, including an official report of all previous convictions and charges from the police. This document must be legally verified and submitted to the Philippines consulate or embassy for a further review. In many cases, applicants with past convictions will not be granted a visa.
Finally, you must provide twelve passport sized photographs, along with your passport. The visa will be applied directly to your passport and the photographs are an official requirement for you to qualify. Please note that you will need to provide six one-inch photographs, and six two-inch photographs in order to qualify for the visa — other sizes will generally not be accepted.
Acquiring Philippines Retirement Visas From Inside And Outside The Philippines
Foreigners aiming to retire to the Philippines can apply for a visa at any official embassy or consulate of the Philippines. It is currently not possible to apply for a retirement visa while you are within the Philippines, nor is it possible to ‘upgrade’ your current visa to a retirement visa. Most Philippines retirees apply for their visas in nearby regions such as Hong Kong, Thailand, or Malaysia.
For more information on the locations of Philippines embassies and consulates, please see the official List of Philippines Embassies, provided by Wikipedia. Please note that the Philippines government recently shut down ten embassies in countries such as Venezuela. If you plan to apply from one of these countries, please check that your Phillipines embassy is operational.
More information on retiring to the Philippines and acquiring a Philippines retirement visa can be found at the official Philippines Retirement Authority website — a government-operated authority designed to streamline and simplify the process of retirement for would-be retirees. This website provides detailed information on retirement and investment type visas for Philippines residents.
Despite the somewhat complicated requirements for an application to be submitted, applying for a retirement visa to the Philippines isn’t particularly complex. While those accustomed to the fast and easy processes found in Hong Kong and Singapore may be frustrated with the slow speed and numerous requirements of the Philippines, those accustomed to Thailand or Malaysia’s visa processes will be pleasantly surprised by the simplicity of the Philippines’ system.