How to retire in the Philippines as a foreigner, you ask? Well, this article will easily answer your question.
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With 7,107 islands, retirees will surely find the best city for them in the Philippines. Whether they prefer the bustling streets of city life, a more slow-paced lifestyle near the beach, or a relaxing view from high in the mountains, the country offers a unique experience for retirement. Even better, a dollar will go a long way because of the affordable cost of living. Find out more on how to retire in the Philippines throughout the article.
How to Retire in the Philippines: Becoming a Resident as a Retiree
The Philippines has a specific government corporation, the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA), for retirees. The institution is mandated to attract foreign nationals to retire in the Philippines. They do so by creating globally competitive programs to provide a suitable social and economic environment for such purposes.
To become a resident of the Philippines, retiring expats can apply for the Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV). It is a special non-immigrant visa granted to foreign nationals who are interested in retiring in the country or making it an investment destination.
Who can Apply for a Special Resident Retiree’s Visa?
The principal applicant for an SRRV should be of foreign nationality or a former Filipino citizen who is at least 50 years of age.
Principal applicants who are married and have children shouldn’t worry about making the big move on their own. There are also visa options for their loved ones to live in the Philippines. But it does come with certain conditions.
Specifically, only a spouse who is legally married to the principal applicant will be recognized as a dependent.
For children, they must be legitimate or legally adopted, of single civil status, and less than 21 years of age.
What are the Requirements to Apply for a Special Resident Retiree’s Visa?
If interested in applying for such a visa, you should prepare the following:
- Original valid passport
- Completely filled out visa application form
- Original valid medical clearance
- Original valid police clearance
- Eight 2”x2” photos
- SRR visa deposit, remitted to an account in the Philippines
- Marriage certificate for a dependent spouse
- Birth certificate for a dependent child
The passport of the applicant should have a non-expired Temporary Visitor’s Visa.
Regarding the police clearance, it must be obtained from the country of origin. If already residing in the Philippines for more than 30 days, the applicant should additionally obtain an NBI Clearance. An application for an NBI Clearance can be done online. Regardless of where the police clearance was obtained, it should not be older than 6 months.
Similarly, the validity of the medical clearance only lasts until 6 months from when it was issued.
Documents not obtained within the Philippines must be translated into the English language. There are also instances where the documents must be verified by the Philippine Embassy where the applicant resides.
The specific amount of the SRR visa deposit depends on the chosen SRR visa option. Each one will be further discussed in the next few sections.
How Much are the Application Fees for a Special Resident Retiree’s Visa?
Applicants have to make a one-time payment when applying for an SRRV.
The principal applicant must pay a fee of $1,400.00 USD, while the dependent applicant has to pay $300.00 USD.
However, an annual fee is also charged for its renewal. It costs $360.00 USD for the principal and two dependents.
What are the Different SRR Visa Options?
There are different options available for the SRRV, depending on the applicant’s health status and previous occupation.
Each option has a specific SRR visa deposit to be made. But regardless of the option applied for, the SRR visa deposit covers the principal and two dependents. Any more than that will require an SRR visa deposit amounting to $15,000 USD per additional dependent.
Retirees who are active and healthy can apply for the SRRV Smile. The SRR visa deposit for this option is $20,000.00 USD.
Retirees who are active and healthy but want to invest in real estate can opt for the SRRV Classic. Their SRR visa deposit can be used to buy a unit in a condominium or lease a house and lot for the long term.
For applicants who are 50 years of age or older, an SRR visa deposit of $10,000.00 USD is required for those who have a pension. The pension should be at least $800 USD for a single applicant or $1,000 USD for married couples.
Applicants who do not have a pension are required to have an SRR visa deposit of $20,000.00 USD.
Furthermore, the value of the property being purchased or leased should be at least $50,000.00 USD.
SRRV Human Touch
Retirees who already need medical care can apply for an SRRV Human Touch. The applicant should have a monthly pension of $1,500.00 at the minimum and a health insurance policy recognized in the Philippines.
The SRR visa deposit is $10,000.00 USD.
Those who have retired after working at international organizations recognized by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) can apply for an SRRV Courtesy. An SRRV visa deposit of $1,500 USD must be made.
SRRV Expanded Courtesy
Retired Armed Force officers from countries that have military ties or an agreement with the Philippines can apply for the SRRV Expanded Courtesy. To do so, they must have a pension of at least $1,000.00 USD per month. Also, an SRR visa deposit of $1,500.00 USD is required.
Furthermore, the SRR visa deposit must be credited to the partner banks of the PRA. There are 7 different institutions accredited by the PRA for this purpose. These include the Bank of Commerce, Banco de Oro (BDO), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), KEB Hana Bank, Philippine National Bank (PNB), Shinhan Bank, and Union Bank.
What are the Benefits of the Special Resident Retiree’s Visa?
Applicants who are granted an SRRV are set for life. There will be no need to renew it every so often. This is a lifetime visa that entitles holders to work, study, and invest in the country for an indefinite period.
At the same time, traveling to and from the Philippines can be as easy as booking a flight. This is because multiple entries and exits are allowed. Holders of the SRRV do not need to comply with the requirements of the Bureau of Immigration, such as the ACR I-Card.
Moreover, there are tax exemptions in certain situations. Customs duties and taxes for importing household goods and personal effects worth $7,000.00 USD or less do not need to be paid. Pensions and annuities are also exempt from being taxed. Lastly, travel taxes are not charged to retirees who have been away from the Philippines for more than a year.
Those who have obtained an SRRV will be warmly welcomed by the PRA through their “Greet and Assist Program.” Once you step foot at the airport, representatives will be ready to guide you as you maneuver through the immigration process.
However, it doesn’t end when you leave the airport. The PRA is also active in continuously providing the necessary support to expats retiring in the Philippines. They have services to assist retirees in obtaining government-issued documents. These include, but are not limited to, a driver’s license, NBI clearance, and an Alien Employment Permit (AEP).
Lastly, holders of the SRRV are covered by the national health insurance program, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). This provides them with financial protection from costs related to availing medical services.
How to Retire in the Philippines: Can I Own Property?
According to the real estate laws of the Philippines, foreign nationals are not allowed outright ownership of real property. Only Filipinos, former Filipino citizens, and corporations that are majorly owned by Filipinos can own land, buildings, condominiums, and townhouse properties.
However, there is still some leeway for foreign nationals to have ownership of real estate. Specifically, they may purchase condominium units given that foreign nationals do not own more than 40% of the units in the property. At the same time, foreigners are permitted to own townhouses but not the land on which they are built.
Because of this, it may be easier to rent property. There are different options, ranging from expensive to budget-friendly apartments across the country. The cost would greatly depend on the location and size of the property.
How to Retire in the Philippines: Access to Healthcare
There are many hospitals in the country that offer quality healthcare on par with international standards. But it is important to note that most of them are located in major cities, such as Manila, Dumaguete, and Cebu.
As stated, the SRRV entitles the holder to membership in the national health insurance program of the country. However, the amount covered by PhilHealth may not always be sufficient to pay for medical expenses, depending on your condition. Because of this, obtaining private health insurance may be reasonable to avoid high out-of-pocket expenditures for health.
Generally, healthcare is more affordable in the Philippines than in the US. Consultations with a general physician often cost 300 PHP ($6 USD), while it costs 1,000 PHP ($20 USD) for a consultation with a specialist.
How to Retire in the Philippines: Paying for Taxes
Expats who do decide to retire in the Philippines will not be taxed on the pension that they receive. Because of this, expats obtain their retirement plan with no deductions, which leaves them with more room to spend.
Only income generated in the country will be taxed. The specific tax rate depends on the type of income. But generally, the maximum is 35%.
With this, retiring in the Philippines can easily be done by applying for an SRRV. Though it comes with a deposit, being able to live in an affordable country can make up for it. Enjoy life inside and outside of the city without digging a hole through your retirement fund.
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