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How Long Can You Stay In The Philippines As A Tourist?

how long can you stay in the philippines as a tourist
Photo by Joseph Richard Francis

How long can you stay in the Philippines as a tourist? If you’re asking that question, then you must be considering hopping over to this island nation on the edge of Southeast Asia. So, before we get stuck into the meat of visas and border restrictions, let’s just say this – good choice! Everything from the glassy surf breaks of Siargao to the white-sand beaches of Cebu to the mountains of northern Luzon await in this bucket-list part of the planet.

And there’s more good news. Crossing Philippine borders shouldn’t be hard at all. There’s a very long list of nationalities that are able to get visa-free access to this land of palm-swaying beaches and turtle-filled coral reefs. There are also options for visa extensions and tourist visas that last nearly two whole months, which is plenty of time to soak up the rays on Boracay and hike soaring Mount Pulag!

This guide will explain how long can you stay in the Philippines as a tourist. It will outline the most popular type of admission passes that travelers can get, offer info about who qualifies and what you need to do to get that stamp in your passport, and reveal if there’s anything else you should know before jetting over to Manila. Let’s begin…

Visa-free entry to the Philippines – up to 30 days

Philippines palm tree
Photo by Joseph Richard Francis

The Philippines have followed suit with a number of other countries in Southeast Asia in that they now allow 30-day, visa-free entry to people from most countries. That’s helped to promote a boom in tourism in these parts, by keeping things simple at the border, and cutting the cost of crossing over to the paradise islands and rice paddies.

At the time of writing, there were a whopping 157 different nationalities on the list of those eligible for visa-free access to the Philippines. That includes every single country in the European Union, tiny principalities like Liechtenstein, big African countries like Ghana and Gabon, alongside the UK and the United States of America.

Also known as a visa waiver, it’s a really simple thing to get. Just rock up to passport control once you hop off your plane, wait in line (and there usually are lines at Manila Airport!), and get the necessary stamp in your document. Viola: You’re through. You’ll then need to queue again when you come to leave the Philippines and get the smaller, green exit stamp.

The only real requirements for the 30-day visa waiver are that you hold a passport from a country that’s on the list of eligible nationalities, and that there’s at least six months validity on your travel document itself (something that’s now routinely checked by airlines at the check-in stage, so having less than six months might mean you can’t even board your flight!).

Long-term visa free entry – up to 59 days

Sunset cheers in the Philippines
Photo by Joseph Richard Francis

There’s a duo of countries that also get visa-free access to the gorgeous islands and sparkling seas of the Philippines, only they get a whopping 59 days. Yep, if you’re lucky enough to be from either Israel or Brazil, you can hit this island nation for almost two straight months without having to fill in a single form or visit a single consulate or embassy. Nice, eh?

Again, you will need that required six months’ validity on the passport. But you still follow the same simple steps as the 30-day visa group – just queue at border control, get your stamp, and remember to re-queue to stamp out of the Philippines at the end of your trip.

Visa on arrival – up to 59 days

Fruit in the Philippines
Photo by Joseph Richard Francis

Looking to stay longer on the soft sands of Cebu? Want to scuba dive for days on end in Palawan? Don’t worry – you’re not limited to just 30 days in the Philippines if you happen to be from one of the 157 countries that get a visa waiver but aren’t Israeli or Brazilian. There are other options…

Cue the visa on arrival. A more conventional type of travel visa, this one will grant entry to the Philippines for up to 59 days at a time.

You will have to fill out some forms to get it. You can do that by downloading the relevant paperwork from the official Philippine immigration website. It’s not the simplest thing to look at, but don’t be put off. It’s actually relatively straightforward when you break it down, asking for basic details, a copy of your passport ID page, address info, and information about where you’ll be staying and the purpose of your visit.

Extending your visa or visa waiver

Boat in the Philippines
Photo by Joseph Richard Francis

How long can you stay in the Philippines as a tourist? Well that all depends. At first glance it might look like you’re limited to either 30 days or 59 days at a time, provided you’re from somewhere that’s on the long list of eligible countries. But, to be honest, it’s not quite that simple. The reason? There are lots of extension options open to those who want to stay longer, and they could up the length of time you’re in this island nation of cotton-colored beaches to over 36 months!

There’s some legwork involved in that. First, you’ll need to enter the country on a normal visa waiver or visa on arrival. Towards the end of your initial period (never after – overstaying isn’t a good idea!), locate the local Bureau of Immigration (BI) offices and take them all the required forms. On those, you can nominate extension requests of anything from 29 days to six months.

You will need to pay a fee for this. It ranges from 3,030 PHP (around $60) for the basic 29-day tourist extension to over 17,400 PHP ($350) for a full six months to be added to your allowance. You’ll also need to take along your original passport (photocopies aren’t accepted) and a sworn statement that you don’t intend to overstay. We’d recommend trying to get the BI offices as early as you can in bigger cities like Manila, as the queues can get outrageous.

Visa extensions can be done every six months for a maximum of three years. After that, all applicants staying on tourist visas will be asked to leave the country.

Overstaying your Philippine tourist visa

Bar sign Phillipines
Photo by Joseph Richard Francis

We know accidents happen. Perhaps you were distracted by the sheer beauty of the Palawan coral reefs or the glimmering white sands of General Luna beach in Siargao. Either way, you’ve overstayed and now you have Philippine border control to deal with. It’s not an ideal situation to say the least…

Maximum penalties for ignoring the deadline to leave on your visa can include a permanent ban from the country. Probably more importantly, overstaying anywhere can have a knock-on effect on your ability to cross borders all around the globe, so it’s definitely not the dark stain on the travel record you’re after if you’re planning on journeying the globe!

That said, most border guards will issue a standard fine of 500 PHP ($10) per month you’ve overstayed and offer a stern warning on the side for good measure.

Nationalities that MUST apply for a visa before arriving in the Philippines

Tropical beach in the Philippines
Photo by Joseph Richard Francis

While it’s true that the vast majority of travelers are likely to be eligible for visa-waiver travel in the Philippines, not ALL folks are covered by that generous border policy. In fact, there are about 40 nationalities that absolutely must apply for a visa before even getting on a plane to Manila or Cebu, or wherever it is they’re planning on crossing the border for the first time.

That list includes a large number of more unstable countries and economies, like Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. But it’s not limited to warring states. You’ll also be part of this group if you happen to be from semi-recognized territories like Kosovo, South Asian countries like Sri Lanka, and some sub-Saharan countries and Pacific islands.

Thankfully, the process shouldn’t be too hard to follow. You’ll need to make a statement on your intent of visit, show flight details (specifically prove that you have a flight scheduled to leave the Philippines) and attend an official Philippine embassy or consulate meeting in a country abroad (usually your country of residence, though it doesn’t have to be).

These sorts of visas are issued for differing timescales. You could be granted 59 days or more. Or, you could equally come away with a visa that only allows two weeks.

So, how long can you stay in the Philippines as a tourist?

How long can you stay in the Philippines as a tourist? Well…that all depends. It depends mainly on where you’re from, but also on whether you choose to make official applications for visa extensions from the Bureau of Immigration once you’re in the Philippines.

Most people will be looking at scoring a 30-day visa waiver. It’s easy to get and covers over 150 nationalities. You simply need to queue at passport control and show your face for that. What’s more, there are extensions available that can take the initial stay to 59 days, and then to a maximum of 36 months if you so wish!

Some nationalities (AKA just Brazilian and Israeli) are lucky enough to get a visa-waiver entry here for 59 days without having to apply for anything. However, you can get that if you’re only eligible for the 30 days by making an application for a visa on arrival when you get to the airport.

Finally, there’s a smaller list of countries that have nationals who will need to make a pre-application for a Philippine visa before they travel. That includes the likes of Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Tonga, and Ukraine.