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How to retire in the Philippines and get an SRRV Retirement Visa

MANILA – Want to cool your heels in a tropical paradise? How about doing so in one of the densest and fastest-growing cities in the world, a place where your dollar, euro or pound can go further? Look no further than the Philippines, where you can have all the thrills of a major metropolitan city in Manila, as well as immerse yourself in a tropical paradise via the country’s thousands of beaches. Whatever you are looking for in your “playgrounds” flag, the Philippines can likely accommodate you.

“I came here for three months to set up a small call center for my online business. That was 10 years ago!” said a British expat I was talking to over champagne at an all-you-can-drink-and-eat Sunday expat brunch. This is the most common reason for being in Manila that I have heard. The city is like a tropical paradise version of “Hotel California” – once you get here, you just never leave. Why is that?

Well, as they say,It’s more fun in the Philippines.”

And it really is…

Philippines Tourist Visa and the Immigration Office

Tourist visas are easy to get and can be renewed every several months. If you are a citizen of a Western country, you can receive a 22-day visa stamped at the airport on arrival in the Philippines (make sure to have an onward flight ticket). You can then choose to renew your visa right in the country during that time for 30 days, 60 days, or even up to six months. After your second or third renewal, you will also have to apply for an ACR (Alien Certification of Registration) card, which also means you will need an exit visa to leave the country. This card needs to be reapplied for yearly (I’m on my second one so far, and have not experienced any issues).

Just make sure to put on actual pants and shoes before visiting immigration. If you show up in shorts and flip-flops, they will refuse to serve you. Even better – ask around and get a reference to a guy who can renew your visa for you for a small fee, and skip the un-airconditioned immigration office altogether. You will find your pants still packed away in the suitcase you arrived with, right next to your winter jacket, socks and other clothes you use only when you go back home.

Philippines Retirement Visas

If you want a more permanent visa (one where you won’t have to deal with exit-visa requirements), I recommend looking at the SRRV Smile retirement visa. Think you aren’t old enough to retire in the Philippines? This one is easy to get, and has one of the lowest age requirements in the world – just 35!

According to people I’ve talked to, the staff at the main office of the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) in Makati (a very nice part of Manila) are friendly, courteous and efficient. It is best that you spend about a week in Metro Manila to complete the application process, as the provincial offices in the country have spotty accessibility to these visa programs.

Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV)

The Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV)

  • Allows you to include your spouse, as well as unmarried dependents below the age of 21
  • Has rarely any restrictions on nationalities. Everyone’s money is good in the Philippines.
  • Has no exit clearance and re-entry permit requirements (though your actual experience with immigration may vary depending on who you are dealing with)
  • Allows you to, under certain circumstances, use a portion of your fixed deposit to invest in local property, which you can live in, let sit and appreciate, or rent out for a little extra income

The SRRV Smile

The Smile visa is the simplest of the visas to retire in the Philippines. At its most basic core, it requires you to be active, healthy, and able to maintain a fixed US$20,000 deposit in an approved retirement account. This money must stay untouched for the totality of your stay in the Philippines, though it can be withdrawn after you leave. It really is as simple and straightforward as that! This is the best retirement visa for the 35- to 49-year-old crowd.

The SRRV Classic

The Classic visa (which is really for those 50 years and older) is slightly different, as applicants must prove a pension payment equivalent to at least US$800 per month (for singles), or US$1,000 per month (for couples). Visa-holders must also maintain a deposit or investment of at least US$50,000. The nice thing about this visa, though, is that a portion of the deposited funds may be used for investment in ready-for-occupancy property. In other words, the property you invest in has to be livable at the time of the investment, so putting money into construction projects is not allowed (and there is a lot of new construction going on). Note that like many other Asian countries, the Philippines places land ownership restrictions on foreigners, so you can really only own condos or townhouses (not anything with actual land).


Neither the Smile nor the Classic visa grants work permits, but you may want to start a business in the Philippines and pay low taxes.

The Philippines can be as laid back – or crazy – as you want it to be. I’ve had a blast living here in Manila for the past year, and I don’t see myself in any hurry to move on anytime soon. Overall, the country is very livable and foreigner-friendly. And if you need extra help for your business, you can easily hire highly educated assistants who have excellent conversational English skills at half or a quarter of the cost of similar talent elsewhere.

Send us a note at Passports.IO and we can help you to retire in the Philippines and get your Philippines Retirement Visa.