In years or reading and participating in a lot of Philippine interest groups I think I’ve seen more misinformation about entry visas than I have seen regarding anything. This really doesn’t seem so complicated, but it certainly does seem to stump a lot of people. I certainly won’t be able to dispel all the myths and clear up the confusion in one post, but I’m going to make a start at chipping away the iceberg.
The simplest and most common visa situation is for the tourist who is not married to a Filipino or former Filipino citizen … which constitutes about 90% of the travelers getting off airplanes at Manila (Niñoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)), Cebu-Mactan International Airport or Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DIMA)) at Clark, Pampanga.
To visit the Philippines the simplest thing to do is just get on an airplane and travel. Citizens of the majority of the world’s countries are authorized entry into the Philippines on the 21 day visa waiver program. Show up at the immigration wicket, present you passport, and the immigration officer will stamp your passport with a visa waiver stamp good for 21 days. This stamp can later be extended if you desire to stay longer, up to two years (24 months) from your date of entry. A lot more detail on these procedures will follow. I am writing this post to start the discussion of right, by clarifying that the stamp you get at the airport is a visa waiver, and not a visa. Do you think I am being to persnickety or too over precise in making this distinction?
Perhaps I am, but there is a lot, I mean a lot of things to follow-on this subject, and it’s better, by far, to call things by their legal and proper names.
For one reason, when you enter the country under this program, you are actually admitted under a different Republic of the Philippines law than when you enter with an actual Tourist Visa, the stamp in your passport that you get from a Philippine embassy or consulate while OUTSIDE the Philippines.
The tourist visa is covered under a different public law. At present, immigration handles Tourist Visas and Tourist Visa waivers pretty much the same, but that may not always be the case. Also claiming to be the holder of something you do not, in fact possess (stating on an official document that you hold a tourist visa, when you hold a tourist visa waiver, as an example) might be the cause of legal action. It is actually falsifying a government document.
The fact it happens every day and many people interchange the terms with impunity does not make it right. Nor, does it make you safe if, as just one example, someone decides to try to find some technicality under the law to deport you on, or otherwise give you a hard time.
So, better safe than sorry. Just remember rule number one in the sticky wickets of visiting the Philippines as a tourist. If you got the stamp in your passport upon entry into the Philippines, you do not have a tourist visa, you have a tourist visa waiver .. that is a stamp issued by the government as a substitute for an actual visa.
)I’ve written more on the Philippine Tourist Visa and Philippine Tourist Visa Waiver here, and you can of course always use the “search Box” in the right hand side column to find more information.
More as it happens.
All information contained in this article and the entire website is personal opinion/experience only. If you need legal advice, seek it from a competent practitioner.