The Easiest Retirement Visa in Asia

Do you want a retirement visa that gives you permanent residency? And one where they will serve you coffee while you wait for your application to be processed? Where they will classify you as a retiree as long as you are over 35? And where they don’t even require you to visit the Immigration Department?

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Well, you could try the Philippines.

Planet Boomer has just completed a research trip to the Philippines and the list of available visas there is very impressive.

Obtaining a long stay visa can be one of the most frustrating parts of pursuing the dream of retiring overseas. Some countries, particularly in Europe, make it exceptionally difficult. Others are strangled by bureaucracy.

Malaysia has long been considered the gold standard for retirement visas in Southeast Asia with its Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program. 

But the Philippines is trying very hard to knock Malaysia off its perch.

The Philippines Retirement Authority is part of the country’s Tourist Bureau. And the Philippines is actively seeking retirees.

PHILIPPINES RETIREMENT VISAS

Petra and Michael moved from Berlin to Dumaguete in The Philippines almost four years ago. And they love the life in this smallish seaside city on Negros Island. They had been spending their annual holidays in various countries across Southeast Asia for 30 years. And their dream was to retire there.

But why The Philippines?

“Because we could get a visa here,” says Petra.

She and Michael are early retirees – in their fifties and not yet receiving a pension. This made it difficult to get a retirement visa in Thailand. Malaysia was a possibility but they didn’t have the available funds to pay the deposit for the Malaysia My Second Home visa. The Philippines was cheaper – and very easy.

The Philippine Retirement Authority offers four types of visas to foreigners who wish to retire permanently in the Philippines.

They are called Special Resident Retiree Visas (SRRV). These visas entitle you to live, work and study in the Philippines. Income sourced outside the Philippines is exempt from income tax. These are multiple entry visas renewable each year but the intention is that they provide a type of permanent residency for successful applicants.

The SRRV Smile Visa is available to those over 35 years of age. A deposit of $US20,000 in a Philippine bank, approved by the Philippine Retirement Authority, is required PLUS a $US15,000 deposit for each spouse or child accompanying you. You will receive interest on this deposit but you cannot access it until you decide to cancel the visa.

The SRRV Classic Visa is available to those over 50 years of age. There is a requirement that you must have a pension income of at least $US800 a month if single or $US1,000 a month if married. A deposit of $US10,000 in a Philippine bank is required plus a deposit of $US15,000 for each dependant. These deposits can be converted into investments in the Philippines after three months, for example for the purchase of a condominium or a long term lease on a house. (As a foreigner, you cannot buy or own land in the Philippines but you can buy a condominium provided that 60 per cent of other unit owners in the complex are Philippine citizens.)

The SRRV Human Touch Visa is directed at those retirees who have a pre-existing medical condition and are in need of medical care and services. For this visa, pension income of $US1,500 a month is required plus a deposit of $US10,000 which remains in the bank account, earning interest, until you cancel the visa. There is no additional deposit required for dependants on this visa.

The SRRV Courtesy Visa is for former Philippine citizens over 35 (requiring a deposit of $US1,500); or for former foreign diplomats over 50 who have served in the Philippines. The deposit is $US1,500 but there is an additional deposit of $US15,000 per dependant. These deposits can be converted into investments after three months.

The application for a special retirement visa is made in the Philippines. It is recommended that before heading to the Philippines you secure a 59 day visa known as a Temporary Visitor Visa 9 (a) from your nearest Philippine Embassy or Consulate. These can be 3, 6 or 12 month visas. The three month is a single entry visa while the 6 and 12 month are multiple entry visas. In all cases, when you have spent a maximum 59 days in the Philippines for any one visit, you must obtain a visa extension from the Bureau of Immigration.

The SRRV Visa application process is relatively trouble free, according to all of those retirees we interviewed. But there is also a lot of help available in the Philippines from the Retirement and Healthcare Coalition (RHC) which is operated by four Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines – the European Chamber, the American, Korean and Japanese chambers. There is no restriction on nationality to secure assistance from the RHC. Their website is  www.rhc.com.ph.  You can contact them directly at info@rhc.com.ph.

The RHC also operates a service known as Expat 360. This is unique in Southeast Asia and provides excellent relocation assistance (including visa applications) and access to medical assistance including emergency medical visits to your home by a doctor and two nurses (within metro Manila) and medical evacuation services in more remote areas. Membership is 6,000 pesos ($US135) a year plus a 1,000 pesos ($US22.50) entrance fee. There are additional charges for each dependant.  You can contact them directly at info@expat360.ph.

When you apply for your SRRV visa you will need the following:

A completed application form.

A current passport with a valid entry visa.

A police clearance.

A National Bureau of Investigation clearance.

Twelve ID pictures

The cost is $US1,400 for the principal applicant and $US300 for each spouse or dependant.

Useful links:

Philippine Retirement Authority www.pra.gov.ph