Monday, November 19, 2012

Tourist Visa in the Philippines

Being able to find right information about Tourist Visa in the Philippines is quite complicated. Even if you call the Embassy, the information they give you is not clear at all. 

I would try to clarify all the issue under my experience and another friends coming here.

Provided by Wikipedia

In theory, Citizens for certain countries are granted 21 free days visa on arrival in any of the 3 international airports of the Philippines (Manila, Clark and Cebu). The only requirement is to show them a return ticket. As I was planning to stay at least 2 months, I contacted the Embassy to advise them about my situation:

-Can I get Visa on arrival and then extend 21 days free visa days to the rest of days remaining? (I saw two very nice flights for 58 days and another for 64 days, same price)
-No, ma’m, better not to risk, come to the Embassy and get visa
-So I wont get visa on arrival even showing a 2 months return ticket?
-No, ma’am, better get visa in the embassy!

So annoying, I had to go to the Embassy and get 3 months visa.

I arrived to Ninoy Aquino Airport in Manila. I read also a lot before and it was very confusing information. YOU have to tell the immigration officer in the border that you already have a visa or he will give you a 21 days that will invalidate your visa (Does it make sense? As I learned later on in the Philippines, many other things will not if you compare to Western Standards.)

I was given 59 days stamp, when my return flight was due in 64 days. I argued with him that I got the visa in the embassy and it was valid for 3 months. He refused my arguments and sent me to Intramuros Immigration Office in Manila.
But I will be starting my trip in Bohol and the Visayan the following weeks. I had long time to worry about that.

Everywhere I was asking, they were telling me the same story, that what the embassy sold me for 40€ was the entrance permit only for 3 months (among this 3 months, 17 September to 17 December I could enter the country any time, but only 59 days!)

Why I wasted my time going to the Embassy and making sure that my visa won’t give me trouble???No answer. But I spent 4 of my 64 days of vacation arguing with immigration officers. They want me to pay 4000pHP for only 4 days extension!!!
I tried to change my ticket. Not possible as I bought offer deal. Damm.
Why they sell me 3 months visa in the Embassy if that was not possible??? I was very upset. 

My American friend flying from Incheon, Korea was forced to buy a return ticket to enter the country. But the funny thing is that he was sold over the counter a very expensive 29 days return ticket, which he couldn’t change or get refund and also violated his free stay visa, so he had to get extension anyway.

My second time I learnt the lesson from another travelers: Buy a very cheap return ticket to Hong Kong with Air Philippines Express (another options: Bangkok, Singapore) and simply overstay my visa (first time you pay for your remaining 38 days. 21free days + 38 days: 59 Days. The rest of the extensions are for 59 days only. I know people extending their tourist visas forever as not other resident options are offered). I was planning to overstay my visa until February but this time, as usually, plan changed and I will be using my return ticket to flight back to Hong Kong as I will have a job waiting for me from December.

It was such a pain to get the visa but really worth!

Note that: This time, either in Hong Kong at the check-in desk or in Clark I had never been asked to show my return ticket (!)

I hope this will help to someone. If you have some doubts, please feel free to write me as I might know the answer/be able to ask someone.


Mustachio said...

I'm sorry the embassy and the immigration officers were giving you such a hard time! Immigration officers also give us a hard time when we go out of the country :-( They suspect all Filipinos who travel abroad go abroad to work :-(

Noelfy said...

Getting Visa everywhere is a pain.

I know about Filipinos, I want to go with my friend to travel but always this stupid visa problem.

Any citizen of the world should need a visa! :(

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