Information for British citizens moving to or living in the Philippines, including guidance on residency, healthcare, civil registration and more.
This guide sets out essential information if you are moving to and living in the Philippines. Read about how our embassy in Manila can help.
This information is provided as a guide only. You should get definitive information from the Philippine authorities. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is not liable for any inaccuracies in this information.
Our Support for British Nationals Abroad guide highlights how you can help yourself stay safe abroad, and the help the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) can provide.
Read general guidance on moving or retiring abroad.
To stay up to date:
Before you go
See our travel advice for the Philippines for up-to-date information on entry requirements, local laws and customs, safety and emergencies.
Visas and Residency
Check the entry requirements in our travel advice.
If you need to apply for a visa before travelling to the Philippines, contact the Embassy of the Philippines in London
If you are already in the Philippines, contact the Bureau of Immigration with all visa and immigration matters, including residency requirements.
- 24/7 Hotline: +63 (02) 8465 2400
- Landline: +63 (02) 8524 3769
- Email: immigPH@gmail.com, email@example.com
- Satellite offices: https://immigration.gov.ph/contact-us/other-immigration-offices
You risk a heavy fine, detention and other severe penalties if you overstay your visa.
See Safety and Security in our travel advice if you’re planning to travel within the Philippines.
Passports and travel
Check the Philippines travel advice for passport validity requirements.
You can get an emergency travel document (sometimes called an emergency passport) if you’re abroad, need to travel and cannot get a passport in time.
Healthcare in the Philippines
See Health in our travel advice.
The Philippines and the UK do not have reciprocal healthcare agreements. The NHS has information for people moving abroad.
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, we aim to contact you as soon as possible after being told that you have been admitted to assess how we can help you. We will then aim to provide assistance according to your individual needs. This may include visiting you if you are vulnerable. If you want, we can also contact your family or friends in the UK through the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London to tell them that you are in hospital.
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
- 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.
If you are on a prescription for any medication, you should ensure you have a supply of it, or are able to obtain it when in the Philippines. Certain medicines may not be available in the Philippines (including major brands readily available in the UK), and you may be prohibited from taking them into the country. You should consult your GP before travelling to the Philippines to find out about any alternative medication.
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.
Follow the advice of the Philippine Government and your local authority. You should also read the Philippines travel advice for our latest guidance.
Working and Doing Business in the Philippines
If you are planning to move to the Philippines and work, you may need a visa. Contact the Department of Labor and Employment for guidance on working in the Philippines as a foreign national and how to get a visa
To apply for a job you may need to provide a:
- UK police certificate
- UK ‘subject access request’
- Legalised UK documents (including birth certificates, marriage certificates and more)
- NBI clearance, if you’ve previously lived or worked in the Philippines.
Read the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) guide on overseas business risk 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.
Studying in the Philippines
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).
If you plan to study in the Philippines, you must meet all visa requirements before you travel. For more information please refer to the Philippine Department of Education (DepEd).
You should get professional advice on paying tax in the Philippines. Find an English-speaking lawyer in the Philippines.
Read the guidance about:
- tax if you leave the UK to live abroad
- tax on your UK income if you live abroad
- tax if you get a pension and live abroad
- paying income tax in the Philippines
- paying National Insurance while abroad to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.
There is no Social Security system in the Philippines for foreign nationals.
Many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit cannot be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.
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.
Money and banking
The currency in the Philippines is the peso (PHP).
Most ATMs and shops in towns and cities usually accept international credit cards. 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.
Accommodation and buying property
See our guidance for buying property abroad.
Buying property or land in the Philippines is not straightforward and disputes over titles and ownership are not unknown. It is essential therefore that anyone planning to buy property or land seeks legal advice. See our list of English-speaking lawyers.
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.
See Driving abroad.
You may be able to vote in some UK elections. You can:
Births, deaths, marriage and civil partnership
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.
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.
You may also need:
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
If you have been the victim of a rape or sexual assault in Philippines, read the guidance on what to do and where to get support in cases of rape and sexual assault.
If you need guidance on child abduction, read the guidance on international parental child abduction.
If you’re the victim of a crime, have been arrested, or are affected by a crisis, contact the British Embassy Manila.
See also Natural disasters
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.
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.
See also Coronavirus
Holders of Temporary Visitor Visa who have stayed in the Philippines for six months or more, or Philippine-born foreign nationals who will depart from the Philippines for the first time, or Immigrant and Non-Immigrant visa holders 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.
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 NHS can provide further information.
To move your pension to the UK, contact the International Pension Centre.
Other useful information
- UK help and services in the Philippines
- Philippines – List of Lawyers
- Philippines – List of Medical Facilities
- Philippines – List of Translators and interpreters
- Philippines – Notarial and Documentary services
- Philippines – Bereavement pack
- Philippines – Prisoner pack
- Age UK: living wills
- Make, register or end a lasting power of attorney
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 His 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.