Guidance

Living in the Philippines

Advice for British people moving to and living in the Philippines.

Introduction

This guide sets out essential information if you are moving to and living in the Philippines, including advice on residency, health, education, employment, driving and more.

We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below. See our information on what consulates can and cannot do.

Our general messaging will continue to appear on our travel advice page. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

Our publication Support for British Nationals Abroad: A Guide highlights some of the main ways you can help yourself stay safe abroad and what help the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) can provide.

Emergency Assistance

If you are or know a British national in need of urgent help, for example you’ve been attacked, arrested or someone has died, please call our 24/7 hotline on +63 (02) 8858 2200.

You may also alert the local authorities by calling:

  • National Emergency Assistance: 911
  • Philippine National Police Hotline: 117, +63 (02) 8722 0650 or +63 (0)917 847 5757
  • Philippine Red Cross: 143 or +63 (02) 8527 8385 to 95
  • Philippine Department of Health: +63 (02) 8651 7800 local 5003 5004, +63 (0)919 160 1418 or email to callcenter@doh.gov.ph

See list of Philippine emergency hotlines.

If you are in the UK and concerned of a British national in the Philippines, call the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in London on 0207 008 5000.

See also Natural disasters

Before you go

Check our advice on foreign travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and sign up for email alerts for up-to-date information on local laws and customs, safety and emergencies.

See moving or retiring abroad.

Visas

You may enter and visit the Philippines for up to 30 days without a visa if you hold valid tickets for your return or onward journey, and your passport is valid for the proposed duration of your stay.

The Philippine Bureau of Immigration maintains a traffic light system which determines entry rules. See entry requirements in our travel advice.

If you need to apply for a visa before travelling to the Philippines, contact your nearest Philippine Embassy.

If you are already in the Philippines, contact the Bureau of Immigration with all visa and immigration matters, including residency requirements.

You risk a heavy fine, detention and other severe penalties if you overstay your visa.

All registered foreign nationals are required to report in person to the Bureau of Immigration and its offices within the first sixty (60) days of every calendar year. Please visit the Bureau of Immigration for more details.

To find more information on retiring in the Philippines, contact Philippine Retirement Authority or read the FAQs on permanent retirement visa prepared by the Bureau of Immigration.

Local travel

See Safety and Security if you’re planning to travel within the Philippines.

Health

See health in our travel advice.

The Philippines and the UK do not have reciprocal healthcare agreements. You may visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) for useful information about healthcare if you’re planning to visit or move to another country.

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.

Make sure to buy comprehensive travel and medical insurance that includes coverage for full hospital admission, air ambulance, medical evacuation for you and your family, and repatriation in the event of death.

The availability of medical care varies across the Philippines, and may not meet the standards of care in the UK. Although adequate in major cities, medical care is limited in more remote areas, and treatment can be very expensive. Make sure to have adequate funds to cover full medical expenses in the absence of a travel and medical insurance.

See the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) for advice on qualification for social health insurance benefits.

Most private hospitals in the Philippines have an international liaison department with English-speaking staff who will assist patients, their relatives and insurance companies. See our list of medical facilities in the Philippines and the Department of Health’s list of hospitals.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

If you are hospitalised in the Philippines, the British Embassy can contact the hospital to check on your progress and whenever possible, visit you within 24 hours after notification of hospitalisation. We can also contact your family or friends in the UK through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in London.

If you are suffering from mental illness, we will do our best to help you find the support and advice wherever you are. The National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) Crisis Hotline provides mental health crisis intervention through psychological first aid and processing by phone as well as a portal for referral to other agencies that can provide specific mental health services as needed in various parts of the country on a 24 hours, seven-days a week basis for free. Contact the NCMH Crisis Hotline as follows.

  • Hotline: 1553
  • Landline: +63 (02) 7989 8727 (USAP)
  • Mobile numbers: +63 (0)917 899 8727 (USAP), +63 (0)966 351 4518, +63 (0)908 639 2672

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the lives of many individuals in unforeseen ways. Read our guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.

If you are under emotional stress or pressure, and you would like to speak to someone directly about your feelings, contact the Befrienders Worldwide with the Samaritans, who may be able to give you more immediate emotional support about your wellbeing. You can find more information, including details of their 24/7 UK helpline on their website.

See also Samaritans for additional tips to look after yourself during the pandemic.

Guidance on bringing medication into the Philippines

Not all UK prescribed medication is available in the Philippines.

Penalties for importing and using illegal drugs are severe. Do not carry anything through customs for someone else unless you know exactly what it contains. For more information, you may contact the Philippine Department of Health and Bureau of Customs.

If you need to obtain prescribed medication at a local pharmacy, you should present your original prescription or a letter from your doctor outlining your medical condition, the prescribed medicine and recommended dosage. Please consult with your GP or seek medical advice if you are running low on supplies.

Coronavirus

For information on vaccines if you live in the Philippines, see our COVID-19 travel guidance.

Working and Doing Business in the Philippines

If you plan to work in the Philippines, please contact the Bureau of Immigration to apply for your visa and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to secure your Alien Employment Permit (AEP).

See gov.uk for guidance on how to get certain UK documents (eg birth certificates, marriage certificates, UK police certificates) legalised before they are accepted in the Philippines for employment, including your visa application.

See the Department for International Trade guide (DIT) for information on how UK companies can control risks when doing business in the Philippines. Explore opportunities for exporting to the Philippines in our country guide on great.gov.uk.

Police certificates

You can apply for a NBI clearance, if you’ve previously lived or worked in the Philippines.

You can apply for a police certificate, if you’ve been asked to provide your UK police records.

Education

The education system in the Philippines is currently implementing the K-12 program that covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (one year of Kindergarten, six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School).

For more information please refer to the Philippine Department of Education (DepEd).

See gov.uk for guidance on how to get certain UK documents (eg school documents) legalised before they are accepted in the Philippines.

Tax

See tax if you leave the UK to live abroad and tax on your UK income if you live abroad.

See information about taxes in the Philippines from the Philippine Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

We recommend you get professional advice on paying tax in the Philippines.

You may be able to pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.

Pensions

See State Pension if you retire abroad and new State Pension.

Life certificates for UK state pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you need to respond as soon as possible – your payments may be suspended if you don’t.

Benefits

There is no Social Security system in the Philippines for foreign nationals.

See benefits for information on UK benefits if you are abroad.

Driving in the Philippines

Vehicles in the Philippines drive on the right side of the road and cars have the steering wheel on the left-hand side.

You should always carry a local driving licence or international driving permit if you plan to drive in the Philippines. See Land Transportation Office (LTO) for advice.

Philippine law prohibits children aged 12 or below from using the front seat of a vehicle. A child may be exempted provided they are at least 150cm tall (4’11’’) provided they can be properly secured using a regular seatbelt. Otherwise, children must sit in the back of the vehicle and use a child restraint system or car seat. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in a penalty.

Finance

The currency in the Philippines is the peso (PHP).

Some ATMs accept international credit and debit cards. Shops in towns and cities usually accept international credit cards. Banks do not always accept travellers’ cheques. Cash in sterling or US dollars can be exchanged for Philippine pesos at the airport, in banks, hotels and some shops. Scottish and Northern Ireland bank notes aren’t generally accepted. Buying foreign currency in the Philippines can be difficult.

See the Central Bank of the Philippines for information on foreign exchange regulations.

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Voting

See voting when you’re abroad.

British citizens living abroad can vote in some UK elections – you’ll need to register as an overseas voter.

Pets

Pets may be allowed entry into the Philippines subject to the issuance of the proper import permit. Contact the Animal Health Division of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) for more information.

See also travelling with pets.

Accommodation and buying property

Buying property or land in the Philippines is not a straightforward business. Disputes over titles and ownership are not unknown. It is essential therefore that anyone planning to buy property or land seeks legal guidance before they commit. See our list of English-speaking lawyers.

See also our guidance for buying property abroad.

Social ethics and traditions

Please refer to our travel advice for further information.

Civil Registration in the Philippines

See Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) for information on how to register births, deaths and marriages in the Philippines.

See PSA Serbilis to request for your certificates online. If you are in urgent need of your documents, you are advised to apply in person at your nearest PSA Serbilis Centers. You may also call +63 (0)928 917 5394 or +63 (0)916 792 8197 from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday to Friday.

Getting married

British nationals who wish to marry in the Philippines are no longer required to have their affidavits administered at the Embassy. Instead, you may have the affidavit notarised locally in the Philippines.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), pursuant to Memorandum Circular No. 2021-004, will allow local notarisation in the Philippines of the “Affidavit of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage.”

We encourage British nationals to have these affidavits notarised locally, or visit the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) website or enquire with the Local Civil Registry Office where you plan to be married for more information.

Births

The birth of a child shall be registered within thirty (30) days from the time of birth at the Local Civil Registry Office of the city/municipality where the birth occurred. See PSA advice for more information.

Once you’ve registered locally you may also be able to register the birth with the UK authorities. See our advice on how to register a birth abroad.

Deaths

Registration of death shall be made in the office of the Civil Registrar of the city/municipality where the death occurred within thirty (30) days from the time of death. See PSA advice for more information.

See what to do after someone dies and bereavement information for the Philippines

British citizenship

There are different ways to apply for British citizenship (or ‘naturalisation’) based on your circumstances.

Contact UK Visas and Immigration if you’re not sure if you’re eligible or do not know how to apply.

Renewing passports

All passport applications are handled by Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) in the UK.

See overseas British passports applications and get an emergency travel document (sometimes called an emergency passport).

Returning to the UK

If you live in the Philippines and are considering returning to live in the UK (for example on retirement), you should consider how you will support yourself and how non-British members of your family may be able to accompany you.

Please consider the entry requirements, actions you may need to take and your access to benefits to help you make informed choices if you are thinking about returning to the UK.

See also Coronavirus

Exit requirements

Holders of Temporary Visitor Visa who have stayed in the Philippines for six months or more, or holders of Immigrant and Non-Immigrant visas with valid ACR I-Cards who are leaving the country temporarily must secure an Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC) at least 72 hours before leaving the country to avoid being denied departure. You should refer to the Bureau of Immigration website for instructions, and call +63 (02) 8465 2400 for advice if you can settle this at the airport before your departure.

Contact the local authorities on relevant travel requirements as part of your preparation. See Department of Interior and Local Government website - view or download the DILG Masterlist for contact details of your local officials. You may also contact your nearest Department of Tourism office (DOT) through the DOT Official Facebook page or their hotline at 1-386 for advice. See link for safety protocols and series of precautionary measures prepared by the Philippine DOT.

National Insurance

If you have not made full National Insurance (NI) contributions, remember you may not be eligible for state benefits or support. HM Revenue & Customs provide some useful information on returning to live in the UK for non-residents, including how to make NI contributions from abroad.

Healthcare

Your entitlement to free NHS treatment depends on the length and purpose of your residence in the UK, not your nationality. You must be able to show UK residency to be eligible for free treatment, even if you are a British citizen. The Citizens’ Advice Bureau or NHS can provide further information.

To move your pension to the UK, contact the International Pension Centre.

See tax if you return to the UK.

See bringing your pet to the UK.

Other useful information

Disclaimer

The information contained in these notes is intended for your general guidance only. While care has been taken in compiling these notes, the accuracy of the information cannot be guaranteed and, of course, law and procedures may change from time to time. For these reasons, neither Her Majesty’s Government nor any member of the British Consular Section staff can accept liability for any costs, damage or expenses which you might incur as a result of relying on these notes.

Published 10 June 2013
Last updated 23 March 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated general and country specific information for British people moving to and living in the Philippines

  2. Added contact details of Philippine Department of Health and edited Health section to include a link about COVID-19 travel guidance.

  3. Updated the advice for British people moving to and living in the Philippines

  4. Change some links

  5. Updated information

  6. Added contact details, update visa entry and notarial portion

  7. Added wardens' list, added forms

  8. Changes on 'Philippine visa' section

  9. First published.