How To Get A Philippines Retirement Visa For As Low As $1500

01/16/2021

Nomadic FIRE Philippines Retirement Visa

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Philippines Retirement Visa Key Summary:

The Special Resident Retiree's Visa (SRRV) is another name for a retirement visa in the Philippines. This SRRV program is the easiest path to legally retiring in the Philippines. With full support of the Philippine government, low financial requirements, and a minimum age of only 35 years old, the SRRV is the simplest long-term stay visa in Southeast Asia.

LIVING IN THE PHILIPPINES: QUICK FACTS <click to expand>

Living in the Philippines: Quick Facts

Currency: Peso

Languages: English and Tagalog

Capital: Manila

Cost of Living

Average Cost of Living, including rent, is ~65% LESS than the US. Manila, ranked 109th out of 210 cities in the world, is the most expensive city to retire to in the Philippines. 

Health Care

A two-class system skews the ranking for the Philippines. Access to healthcare is available to Filipino citizens for free, but at low levels of care. Private insurance offers better quality, but still affordable healthcare similar to the US private insurance model. The high-quality, lower-cost (compared to the US) private healthcare system has put the Philippines on the map for medical tourism.

English Score

The world's leading location for English speaking outsourced call centers. 64% of the country's population speaks English. Most Filipinos under 35 will speak fluent English with a neutral accent.

Quality of Life

Dense city living leads to high pollution, long traffic times, and drives a lower Quality of Life. Living on the islands, in smaller towns, or out in the countryside increase this score dramatically.

What Is Retiring In The Philippines Like?

Do you dream of early retirement in a tropical paradise? The Philippines offers miles and miles of beaches to satisfy even the most die-hard beach fan. With over 7,600 islands, this archipelago nation offers expats and foreign retirees countless options. Early retirees and digital nomads looking for extended stays will find more than just fun and sun in the Philippines. From award-winning beaches, chill mountains, and UNESCO natural wonders to historic colonial sites, and adrenaline adventure parks, the Philippines can satisfy every interest.

Retire on a boat drifting past El Nido Palawan Philippines

El Nido Palawan is consistently ranked "The Best Island In The World."

A Tropical Island Paradise

Do you enjoy spending your days sipping fresh-pressed juice on a sandy beach? The Philippines is home to Palawan, ranked the “Best Island in the World” by Conde Nast travel magazine. With aquamarine-colored water so blindingly blue, it makes the Caribbean Sea look like a Florida swamp.  Palawan is also home to the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park, one of UNESCO’s Seven Natural Wonders.

Want your beach time to be a bit more active? The Philippines is also home to a Top 10 Surf break. Cloud 9 on Siargao Island is the annual site for the Siargao Cup – an international surfing competition. This famous Siargao Island surf break is known for its thick hollow tubes perfect for barrel riding surfers.

Grab some gear and explorer the Philippines from a different perspective. Did I mention that the Philippines is made up of over 7,100 islands? There are so many islands that, in 2016, a special government mapping project found 534 more islands. There are now officially 7,641 islands that make up the country.

The diving and snorkeling around these islands are world-class. There is an entirely different world underneath the waves with colorful coral reefs, massive whale sharks, miniature sea turtles, and endless schools of fish. With a varied landscape, both on land and underwater, the Philippines has a lot to offer expert scuba divers and beginner snorkelers alike.

Dive with the sea turtles on Apo Island Philippines

Marco meeting one of Apo Islands residents

An Adventure and Nature Playground

Are you tired of your hair smelling like saltwater? The Philippines has captivating waterfalls with clear lagoons you can swim in all around the country.  Or pamper yourself in the hundreds of hot spring resorts in Laguna. Oh, did we mention "Hundred"? Check out the marvelous Hundred Islands in Pangasinan. Beaches, waterfalls, mountains, hot springs, this country has an abundance of natural attractions, and we haven’t even mentioned the Banaue Rice Terraces in Bengue, the Chocolate Hills of Bohol, or the Mayon Volcano in Bicol.

Limunsudan Falls is a beautiful two-tiered waterfalls in the Philippines

Limunsudan Falls (870 ft/265 m) is a beautiful two-tiered cascade of water

Looking to relax less and adventure more?  Spend time spelunking in the caves of Sagada or Danao. Even the mountains of Batangas and Rizal are waiting for you to be trekked and climbed.

The Philippines is the travel wonderland for foreign retirees who want to chill or relax, see beaches or mountains, or want to shop or surf. A couple of weeks or even a few months does not do the country justice. There are too many things to do and more islands to explore. Instead of traveling through, you will crave taking your time and exploring the country for an extended stay. The Philippines makes it too easy to call it home.

Does an American Need A Visa To Visit The Philippines?


"No visa required for a stay not exceeding thirty (30) days. Traveler must hold a valid ticket for the return journey to country of origin or next country of destination and a passport valid for a period of at least six (6) months beyond the stay in the Philippines."

Luckily, the Philippines is one of the best countries Americans, Canadians, and Europeans can relocate to long-term. US passport holders do not need a visa for stays less than 30 days. To visit longer than 30 days, you can apply for a 60-day visa. With visa extensions every two months, you can stay in the Philippines for up to three years (36 months) without ever having to do a Visa run! (Eat my shorts, Thailand!)

Legally retiring to the Philippines comes with significantly less hassle and requirements than neighboring Thailand or Indonesia. The Philippine government even created a "Lifetime Visa" and charted a dedicated agency, the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA), to help you move to the Philippines. The PRA helps with your application and offers financial incentives to encourage retiring in the Philippines.

Processing time for an SRRV application is between 10 days to 30 days. Applications take longer to process if you miss a step or forget a document.  Download a FREE SRRV checklist to keep track of every step and document. 

What Does It Cost To Retire In The Philippines?

Your cost of living in the Philippines can be 65% less than in the US. Living in the expensive capital, Manila, my monthly budget was between $1,500 to $2,000 per month. My life includes a western-style apartment in a trendy neighborhood, frequent meals out, an active social life, and weekly maid service. Life in smaller cities or the countryside can cost 50% less than in Manila. 

The Philippines retiree visa requirements are much lower than other countries in SE Asia. A $20,000 deposit into a Philippine bank qualifies you to live in an affordable tropical paradise. The SRRV even allows early retirement with a minimum age of just 35 years old.

If you use a 4% Safe Withdrawal Rate (SWR), you can fund your retirement with about $450,000 in savings. By moving to this low-cost tropical oasis, you can take years off your FIRE date. 

View of the Banaue Rice terraces in the Philippines

The Banaue Rice terraces are occasionally called the "Eighth Wonder of the World."

Legally retiring to the Philippines can be an overwhelming process with several steps and lots of paperwork. Download this FREE Retirement Visa checklist to ensure you don't forget a single form. 

What Are The Philippine Retirement Visa (SRRV) Requirements?

  • Be at least 35 years old.
  • Certificate of Deposit by one of the PRA shortlisted banks for the required deposit amount.
  • Not be mentally-challenged, insane, afflicted with a dangerous contagious disease, or have epilepsy.
  • Not be a pauper, vagrant, beggar, stowaway, or a person likely to become a public charge.
  • Have not been previously deported from the Philippines.
  • Never have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, prostitution, or be a person coming for any immoral purposes.
  •  Not be a person who practices polygamy or who believes in or advocates the practice of polygamy.
  • Cannot believe in nor advocate the overthrow by force and violence the Government of the Philippines.
  • Be a person who disbelieves in or is opposed to organized government.
  • Cannot be an illiterate person over fifteen years of age.
  • Meet the individual requirements for the specific SRRV option below

What Are The Different SRRV Options?

What is the SRRV SMILE?

The SRRV SMILE visa is the most straight forward of the visa options. If you are over 35 years old, healthy, active, and able to deposit and maintain a $20,000 deposit in an approved Philippines retirement account, then you can apply. 

SRRV SMILE REQUIREMENTS:

The $20,000 deposit mentioned above. In addition, you cannot withdraw the deposit unless you give up your residency. Unlike the other options, you cannot use the $20,000 to invest in a house or any other investments.

What is the SRRV CLASSIC?

The SRRV CLASSIC makes the most sense for expats and digital nomads thinking about retiring in the Philippines. The visa's selling point is the flexibility to use your deposit for investment. Investments can include real estate for a primary residence or condo, as well as membership shares into a golf club or country club.


SRRV CLASSIC REQUIREMENTS:

If you are over 50 years old:

  • Then your deposit is $20,000
  • But if you have a guaranteed monthly income of $800+, then your deposit is only $10,000

If you are 35 - 49 years old:

  • Your deposit is $50,000

What is the SRRV COURTESY?

Nomadic FIRE Philippines flag 150x150 1

This visa is mainly for former citizens of the Philippines who were naturalized and acquired another citizenship.

Additionally, anyone who worked as an ambassador, diplomat, or staff of an International Organization or NGO in the Philippines can apply using this SRRV option to retire in the Philippines.


SRRV COURTESY REQUIREMENTS:

If you are over a former Philippine citizen:

  • You must be 35 years old or older
  • Your deposit is ONLY $1,500

For foreign nationals who qualify for the SRRV Courtesy:

  • You must be 50 years old or older
  • Your deposit is ONLY $1,500
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 INSIDER TIP : The cheapest way to retire to the Philippines as a US Citizen is if your spouse happens to be a former Filipino citizen. Your spouse could apply for the SRRV Classic and add you as a dependent ($1,700 in total fees), and the reduced deposit amount of $1,500 would apply. $3,200 for permanent residency is the cheapest retirement visa in the world. 

What is the SRRV EXPANDED COURTESY?

SRRV EXPANDED COURTESY REQUIREMENTS:


If you were in the US military and are over 50 years old, this option is incredibly simple.

  • Show guaranteed monthly income of $1,000+
  • A small deposit of ONLY $1,500 is required.

This option is not just for US Military. Any retired foreign military from countries with existing military ties and/or agreement with the Philippine Government are eligible.

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 INSIDER TIP : All SRRV options above cover you plus two dependents. There is an additional deposit of $15,000 for each dependent after the first two.  

How Much Does A Philippine SRRV Visa Cost?

FEES AND ADDITIONAL COSTS:

  • One Time Application fee: $1,400 for the principal applicant and $300 for each dependent
  • Annual fee: $360 (up to three family members) and $100 for each additional dependent

A $360 per year renewal charged every year lets you legally stay in the Philippines for as long as you want.

Get your step-by-step FREE SRRV application checklist for expats retiring in the Philippines. Organize your application with the checklist. Don't miss any paperwork or forget a step. 

What Documents Are Required for the Philippines Retirement Visa?

  • Completed Philippine Retirement Authority application form. A fillable PDF of the SRRV application is available here for download.  
  • Original and photocopy of a valid passport. Passport must be valid for at least another 6-months.
  • Authenticated Medical examination accomplished by a licensed physician (including an AIDS test) showing good physical and mental health
  • A Valid State Police Clearance or FBI Background Check, duly authenticated by the Philippine Embassy (no older than 6-months from application date) or Consulate (if issued abroad) or a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Clearance (if you have been in the Philippines for more than 30-days)
  • Eight 2 X 2 Passport photos
  • Birth Certificate for any dependents coming with you
  • Marriage Certificate, if applicable
  • Bank certification of the visa deposit

Are There Any Additional Documents Required For The SRRV?

SRRV CLASSIC WITH MONTHLY INCOME DOCUMENTS:

  • Documentation of a guaranteed monthly income of at least $800 for the primary retiree or $1,000 for a couple.
    • To claim income from a government or corporate pension, you must prove the income will be regular and consistent (Income Verification Letters, Proof of Pension Award, etc.). 
  • Guaranteed income can include monthly pensions and US Social Security.

SRRV COURTESY DOCUMENTS:

Nomadic FIRE Philippines flag 150x150 1

Former Filipino citizens need a copy of their birth certificate from the National Statistics Office (NSO), their old Philippine passport, or their new citizenship's naturalization records.

SRRV EXPANDED COURTESY DOCUMENTS:

  • Documents showing proof of military service and achievements.
  • Proof of a military pension of at least $1,000 per month.
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 INSIDER TIP : The annual letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) showing benefit amounts is acceptable proof of income. The staff at the US Embassy in Manila can assist with Social Security services.

  • The annual letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) showing benefit amounts is acceptable proof. The staff at the US embassy in the Philippines can assist with Social Security services.
  • All documents issued outside of the Philippines must be translated into English, if necessary, and authenticated by the Philippine Embassy/Consular Office nearest the applicant’s residence.

How Do I Apply For The Retirement Visa In The Philippines?

  1. 1
    Get your state police clearance or FBI background check done in the US. The nearest Philippines Embassy or Consulate must authenticate the Police clearance paperwork.
  2. 2
    Fill out a Special Resident Retiree's Visa Application form. 
  3. 3
    Get a medical examination.
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 INSIDER TIP : I recommend getting the medical exam in the Philippines. The cost of an exam will be roughly $20-$50 depending on the doctor and hospital. Exams done in the Philippines require no additional authentication. If you use a hospital in the US, the results need authentication by the nearest Philippines Embassy/Consulate.

  1. 4
    Fly to the Philippines. Unlike most countries, the Philippines SRRV process starts in the Philippines rather than in your home country.
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 INSIDER TIP : For Americans looking to apply for Philippines SRRV, I suggest applying for a long-term tourist visa from a Philippine Embassy or Consulate. The Long Term Tourist Visa allows you to stay 59 days and only costs $30.

You may ask why you need to pay $30 for a 59-day tourist visa when you get to stay in the Philippines for 30 days for free. While the visa process is straight forward, Filipino government agencies are not.
The Bureau of Immigration can take 3-4 weeks to process your application. 30-day visa-free doesn't give you much buffer for delays. 

  1. 5
    Head to a PRA designated bank. You need a bank certification of your visa deposit and to pay for your SRRV membership and processing fees.  
  2. 6
    Get your documents together (see the SRVV visa requirements section above for the complete list).
  3. 7
    Apply at the PRA head office in Makati or one of the satellite offices listed here.
  4. 8
    Wait 3-4 weeks for the Bureau of Immigration to process your SRRV application.
  5. 9
    Head to the PRA office to take an Oath of Affirmation.
  6. 10
    Pick up your passport, SRRV card, and certificate.
  7. 11
    Head to the beach for a San Miguel beer!

What Banks Can I Use To Pay For the Visa Deposit and Fees?

Payment for the Visa Application Fees

You can pay in cash or cashier's check directly to any PRA Office (Makati or Satellite Offices) or you can pay at any branch of Land Bank of the Philippines. See below for specific bank payment instructions.

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 INSIDER TIP : If you are currently living outside the Philippines, you can transfer using the following (note, you are responsible any bank charges):

Bank Name. Land Bank of the Philippines
Account Name: Philippine Retirement Authority
For NAME OF RETIREE/SRRV NO.
US Dollar Account Number 2204-0086-82
Branch Name Buendia Branch
Tara Bldg,, 3389 Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City Philippines
Swift Code TLBPPHMM

Send a copy of the deposit slip to any PRA office to confirm receipt of payment.

Payment for the Visa Deposit

You must pay the visa deposit in US Dollars to a PRA designated bank.

Instructions on how to pay the deposit using JP Morgan or Citibank are included in the downloadable checklist below. 

Payment instructions for the Visa Deposit and Fees are Included in my FREE Checklist.

What Are the Pros and Cons of the SRVV?

The Benefits of Retiring in the Philippines with an SRRV Visa

Pros

  • Small Upfront Deposit With Optional Investment Alternative
  • Zero to Low Income Required
  • Low Minimum Retirement Age of 35 to qualify
  • A "Lifetime Visa" means permanent residency with multiple entry privileges and no visa runs.
  • No Exit Clearance and Re-entry Permit required
  • Language Exam Not Required
  • Your spouse and children are exempt from the Immigration requirements as you.
  • Tax and Duty-free import of your household goods and personal effects
  • Exempt from travel tax
  • The Philippines Government only taxes income earned in the Philippines
  • The PRA will help get you transition to retiring in the Philippines. Including helping you obtain an employment permit, driver’s license, tax ID, and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Background check.
  • Exempt from needing an ACR I-Card (Alien Certificate of Registration Immigration Card) from the Bureau of Immigration.
  • Interest on your visa deposit is tax-free
  • Working as an SRRV holder is possible

Cons

  • Land Ownership Is Not Allowed  
  • Deposited money must be kept in a Philippine bank unless invested.
  • You must notify the PRA of any change of address

Conclusion 

With a low retirement age, minimal financial requirements, and additional incentives, the Pros of Retiring Early to the Philippines greatly outweigh the Cons.


The country's direct efforts to make retiring in the Philippines hassle-free are polar opposite to the crackdown, bureaucracy, and inconsistency of trying to live in Thailand. 


Anyone looking to retire early and live abroad should give the Philippines retiree visa a serious look.

Enjoy your Philippines retirement on the beaches of Boracay

The beaches on Boracay have sand the color and consistency of white sugar

Philippines Retirement Visa Key Takeaway: 

White sand beaches, easy travel visas, and affordable price tags make a luxury lifestyle in the Philippines available to anyone.

The Philippines offers Digital Nomads and Early Retirees a relaxed quality of life unaffordable in the United States or Europe. Indulge yourself in a lifestyle of beachside beers, vibrant sunsets, weekly massages, maids, personal chefs, and drivers for a fraction of the cost in your home country.

Early Retirement with only $450,000 saved is an obtainable goal, even for people aiming at leanFIRE. Even comparing the low Cost of Living to Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, or Vietnam, the Philippines offers tremendous value for your dollar.

Why retire in the Philippines? With all the Pros stated above and 7,641 islands to discover, the answer to that question is simply, “Why not?”

The sunset view of La Union Philippines

Marco enjoying another picture-perfect sunset at the La Union surf break

Tax Documents. Legal Documents. Financial Documents. Retiring to the Philippines involves lots of paperwork. The easiest way to keep track of each form, record, or certificate is to use this FREE Philippines Retirement Visa Checklist.

FAQs: Philippine Retirement Visas (SRRV)

Can a foreigner with a SRRV own land in the Philippines?

Short answer no. However, are ways for foreign nationals to still buy and own property in the Philippines.

  • Own a condominium, where you own the house, but the land is owned as a group.
  • Enter into a long-term land lease up to 50 years + 25 year renewal
  • Marry a Filipino citizen and register the property in their name.
  • If you are natural born Filipino with the SRRV Courtesy.  You can own 5000 m2 or city land or three hectares of agricultural land. 

My advice to foreigners buying land in the Philippines is to hire an attorney to prevent any surprises.

What are the differences between the different types of Special Resident Retiree's Visas (SRRV)?

There are four types of Philippine Retirement Visas each with specific requirements. The three most common are:

  1. SRRV SMILE- Requires a $20,000 bank deposit
  2. SRRV CLASSIC- More flexible investment requirements than the SMILE
  3. SRRV EXPANDED COURTESY- Special SRRV for US Military

How much income do I need to qualify for a SRRV Retirement Visa?

Income requirements depend on the specific SRRV visa, but can be as low as $0 (for the SRRV SMILE). Maximum is $1000 per month (for the SRRV EXPANDED COURTESY).

What does a retirement visa for the Philippines cost?

A one-time application fee of $1,400 for a single applicant and $300 for each dependent. An annual fee of $360 (up to three family members) and $100 for each additional dependent. After your first year, a $360 per year renewal let's you legally stay in the Philippines for as long as you want. 

Can a SRRV holder work in the Philippines?

The SRRV is one of the only Retirement Visas that allows work. SRRV holders are eligible to work, study or invest in the Philippines.

How long can I stay in the Philippines on a SRRV Retirement Visa?

If you keep your membership active and pay your annual fee, the SRRV allows you to stay in the Philippines as long as you want.  

Is there a minimum age to apply for a SRRV Retirement Visa?

The SRRV Retirement Visa is available to anyone over 35 years old. The Philippines makes Early Retirement easy with one of the youngest Retirement Visas available.  

Next Steps: Find Out Best Places to Live and Retire in the Philippines. 

Our Retirement Guides Have All The Insider Tips.

  • Want to know more about Living in Manila? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Retiring in Manila.
  • Retirement Living Guides for Cebu and Dumaguete coming soon. Sign up in the box below for updates.
  • Download the FREE SRVV Checklist using the button below.

Want More Information On Living Abroad? Sign up below to get the latest updates.

Useful External Resources For Retiring In The Philippines


About the author

Hi, That's me. I'm Marco Sison. I am a survivor of the corporate rat race. I started Nomad FIRE to show you an alternative to the stress and grind of 70-hour weeks to pay off a mortgage, student loans, and countless bills. After getting laid off in 2015, I said screw it all and retired early at 41 years old. I have traveled the last five years to over 40 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries for 70% less cost than the US. I have been featured in: US News & World Reports, Huffington Post, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Best Life, Hacknoon, CW Network, The Times of Israel, Dr. Wealth, and others. [view press...]


  • I guess it really help to have friends living there! Thank you!

    • Marco Sison says:

      Absolutely. For me, building a social circle is what makes a place feel like home.

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