Living in the Philippines
How to access the essential information you need when travelling to or living in the Philippines as a British national.
This guide sets out essential information for British national residing in the Philippines, including advice on health, education, benefits, residence requirements 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 for British nationals.
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. Treatment can be very expensive. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. Make sure that your insurance policy provides for the following:
- an air ambulance, in case you need to be flown home
- full medical cover (bills can be very expensive)
- bringing the body home, in the event of a death
- bringing your family home, in the event of your illness or injury
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 117 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 and Commonwealth (FCO) 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.
For information on pre-travel health consultation, please visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) and NHS Choices for useful information about healthcare abroad, including a country-by-country guide of reciprocal health care agreements with the UK.
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 Philippines’ Department of Education (DepEd).
Employment, Entry and Residence Requirements
British nationals 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. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your intended stay.
Certain UK documents (e.g. birth and marriage certificates, school records) must first be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy in London; make sure to get these done before departing for the Philippines. Please contact please contact the Philippine Embassy in London directly.
Driving licences and Vehicles
You need to have a local driving licence to drive in the Philippines or apply for an international driving licence from the Philippines’ Land Transportation Office (LTO).
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.
Guidance on bringing medication into the Philippines
If you are bringing medication into the Philippines, remember to bring your prescription from your doctor or hospital. 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 Philippines’ Bureau of Customs.
Property and property disputes
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. For list of English-speaking lawyers, please you may refer to this link.
Social ethics and traditions
Please refer to our travel advice for further information.
Leaving the Philippines
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. There is information available to help you make informed choices about living abroad and thinking about returning to the UK.
British Nationals leaving the Philippines on an Emergency Travel Document (ETD) should get the necessary stamps from the Bureau of Immigration or they are likely to face problems at the point of departure. You may contact the Bureau of Immigration to apply for the exit visa.
If you are holding a Temporary Visitor Visa and have stayed in the Philippines for six months or more, you are required to secure an Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC) at the Bureau of Immigration office before leaving the country to avoid being denied departure. For more information, please click here.
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.
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 NHScan provide further information.
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
Updated: 7 January 2014
- Change some links
- Updated information
- Added contact details, update visa entry and notarial portion
- Added wardens' list, added forms
- Changes on 'Philippine visa' section
- First published.