Philippines retirement visa an improvement on other SE Asian versions

Published:  28 Sep at 6 PM
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If you’ve fallen in love with the friendly locals and laid-back lifestyle in the Philippines, retiring here is easier than in many Southeast Asian countries.

The Philippines archipelago has been popular with older Western expatriates for some decades, but the numbers arriving are now increasing due to political instability in formerly favourite mainland destinations. The invasion of Cambodia by Chinese developers and their casino customers and the stiffening of immigration requirements and increasing xenophobia in Thailand are expected to swell the numbers of retired expats heading for a more secure place to hang their hats.

In former times, the way for retired male expats to secure residency was to marry a Filipino girl and settle down, an arrangement which suited both parties in many ways. Nowadays, the country offers a special visa tailored to retired expats, enticing couples and single females to its tropical climate, hospitable locals and cheaper cost of living. The Special Retirees Resident Visa (SRRV) is the answer and is far less trouble than its equivalents back on the Southeast Asian mainland.

Issued by the Philippine Retirement Authority, the retirement visa is relatively new and is proving successful, especially is it includes rights to multi-entry, thus making it easier to visit family in the home country without having to reactivate the visa on return to the Philippines. The Smile Visa is for expats from the age of 35 years, and needs a deposit of $20,000 in a local bank. The Classic visa applies to retirees in receipt of a pension, and the Human Touch visa applies to ailing retirees over the age of 35.

The advantages of the new visa regime are many, beginning with permission to work or study, unlike a similar Thai retirement visa which prohibits holders from working or even volunteering. Tax exemptions apply to pensions and annuities, holders don’t have to file annual reports as against the Thailand version which requires reports to immigration every 90 days. Re-entry and exit authorisation isn’t required and there are reduced customs and import duties for personal goods on arrival.

Assistance is also provided to incomers as regards getting a driving license, an employment permit, a tax ID number and an exemption certificate. To apply for the retirement visa, you’ll need a valid passport with an updated Philippine tourist visa, the PRA application form, a medical certificate or clearance, police clearance from the home country and 12 copies of a full-face photo.

Perhaps the most convenient feature of the visa is that no annual extension of stay is required, yet another contrast with Thailand’s retirement visa. The only negative is that property ownership is not permitted unless you’re legally married to the Philippine citizen.
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