Social: Many people dream of living in the Philippines while making a living remotely. In fact, thousands of digital nomads come every year to this tropical paradise to do exactly this! Since the local job market isn’t incredibly attractive for foreigners, you will make a better buck while working for a foreign employer or client. But how to do it currently, and is it even possible to work from the Philippines remotely?
The Philippines is a paradise on earth. It’s a country full of stunning islands, lots of sun, sea, sand, tasty food and smiley locals. Moving to a place like this is a dream for many, but you can make it a reality with a remote job and a laptop. How?
You can work remotely in the Philippines, provided you can find an employer who can hire someone for work that is 100% done remotely. However, it might be challenging to understand how to lawfully stay and work remotely in the Philippines. A digital nomad visa in the future could make things easier, but the country doesn’t provide one.
Living in the Philippines and working for a foreign or local employer can be tricky from a visa standpoint. You need to figure out a few logistics to make this dream come true. Fortunately, if you are working remotely for a foreign company, and you are a foreign national, you don’t need a work permit in the Philippines. Keep reading to learn more.
Can a foreigner work in the Philippines?
Yes. It isn’t mandatory for foreign nationals working in the Philippines whose employers are located abroad, or those who don’t have an employer, to secure a work permit. This permit by the way is known locally as an AEP, which stands for Alien Employment Permit.
One does need to keep in mind that working remotely for a foreign company doesn’t bring any privileges in the Philippines. You aren’t eligible for any visas or work permits. You don’t have access to government benefits either.
To get a work permit in the Philippines, you will need to have formal employment within the country. Companies that employ foreigners provide them with a petition or sponsor them.
Working for a local company in the Philippines
To work legally for a Filipino employer as a foreigner, you will need to get your papers in order first. A foreigner must obtain an AEP from the Department of Labor and Employment (DLE).
What is an Alien Employment Permit (AEP)?
The Alien Employment Permit (AEP) is required for foreign nationals who wish to work in the Philippines for six months or longer. In order to obtain this permit, the foreign national must already have a local employer who will petition them. This permit is usually valid for as long as the duration of the employee’s assignment in the Philippines.
The DLE will determine if you can work as a result of there being no alternative Filipino citizen who is competent, willing or able to perform said work during the time of your application. The permit will be valid for one year.
People who fall under any category below are able to get a work permit in the Philippines:
- Diplomatic Service and Foreign Government Officials with a reciprocity agreement
- Staff and officers of International Organizations
- Owners and representatives of Foreign Principals that are accredited by POEA who come to employ Filipinos
- Those who hold agreements with universities or colleges in the Philippines to teach, present or conduct research
- Those under the Philippines Immigration Act of 1940 and Section 3 of RA 7917 (Permanent Resident FN and Probationary or Temporary Resident Visa Holders)
- All foreign nationals are granted an exemption by law
On top of needing a work permit, there are several additional steps if you want to work in the Philippines legally. They include:
- Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) – obtained from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)
- Alien Certificate of Registration Identification Card (ACR-I-Card) – obtained from Bureau of Immigration if you are staying in the Philippines on a tourist visa
Who doesn’t need an employment permit in the Philippines:
- Board members with voting rights that don’t interfere with management
- Corporate officers – e.g. a president, secretary or treasurer
- Consultants with no employers in the Philippines
- Intra-corporate transferee who is a manager, executive or specialist, as well as an employee for a foreign service supplier for at least a year before coming to the Philippines
- Contractual service supplier (manager, executive or specialist) who is an employee of a foreign company with no branch in the Philippines
Special work permit (3-6 months)
A Special Working Permit (SWP) is required in the Philippines for foreigners who will be employed in a temporary position that doesn’t exceed six months.
The SWP is initially valid for three months, and it is renewable for another three months. Any local petitioner must apply for the SWP on behalf of their employee upon the employees’s arrival in the country.
This permit applies to certain occupations including, but not limited to:
- Researchers or others pursuing academic work
- Culinary professionals
- Consultants and specialists
Additionally, some occupations have specific requirements, such as minimum educational attainment and years of experience in their field. Applicants must meet these requirements to get the SWP.
Keep in mind that you will have to go through a massive bureaucratic process when obtaining a work permit in the Philippines. However, many agencies will be happy to assist you for a reasonable price.
Is there a digital nomad visa in the Philippines?
As of 2022, the Philippines doesn’t have a dedicated digital nomad visa. However, as we’ve established, the government allows foreigners to work in the Philippines.
Staying as a tourist and working remotely in the Philippines
Have you thought about simply remaining as a tourist and working from the Philippines that way? Citizens of most countries in the world, including the US and the EU states, can stay for up to 30 days visa-free in the Philippines.
To do this, you will need to provide a valid passport with at least six months remaining on it, as well as a ticket for onward travel. It’s also possible to apply for a 29-day extension from the immigration office, which costs $63.
Another way to stay in the country is to apply for a tourist visa at a Filipino embassy in your own country. A single-entry visa will be valid for three months, and multiple-entry visas are valid for six months or one year.
Nonetheless, you are only allowed to stay a maximum of 59 days. To prolong your stay, you will need to exit and re-enter the Philippines after 59 days in the country, which is known as a “border run.”
You can’t bring your family
One of the most unfortunate things about working as a freelancer in any country is that one cannot always bring their family members, especially if they stay as tourists and do border runs.
At the same time, a legit work visa will allow you to bring your children under the age of 21 and your spouse to the Philippines.
Visas in the Philippines
In order to stay for a longer period of time in the Philippines, you will need to apply for an appropriate visa. As mentioned above, you can only stay for a limited amount of days as a tourist, typically 30 days.
Overstaying the tourist visa isn’t recommended and can cost you almost $100 a day.
In case you change your mind and you want to stay longer than 30 days, you can:
- Apply for a 29-day visa extension at the Bureau Of Immigration (BOI), or at the airport immigration control booth upon arrival in the Philippines. This costs $60 and it’s only available at the Manila and Cebu airports.
- Apply for a six-month visa extension (non-immigrant temporary visa) at the BOI for around $200. This six-month visa is similar in concept to a digital nomad visa.
Your visa options in the Philippines are:
- A tourist visa for stays over 30 days and recurring multiple entries.
- A non-immigrant visa is granted for the purpose of pre-arranged employment, trade, transit and education. The requirements naturally vary.
- Non-quota immigrant visas apply to children and spouses of Philippine citizens and returning natural-born Filipinos.
- Quota immigrant visas are granted to applicants with enough financial capital who possess extraordinary professional skills or qualifications to benefit the country. A maximum of 50 quota immigrant visas are granted per year.
- The special resident retiree visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows multiple entries and indefinite stays. To participate in this visa program, applicants must submit a deposit depending on their age and retirement pension.
Visas for the Philippines have pretty high and specific requirements. Consequently, foreigners might have a hard time qualifying.
A foreigner may only get the Treaty Trader/Investor visa or 9 (d) visa if they are a national of the US, Germany or Japan. These countries have a reciprocal agreement with the Philippines for the admission of treaty traders or investors.
Yet, other nationalities who want to make investments in the Philippines may apply for special resident visas. These visas are subject to additional requirements or limitations imposed by law.
The following are the different kinds of special resident visas:
- Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV) is available to foreigners and former Filipinos at least 35 years of age. They may also invest in any of the areas specifically designated by the PRA.
- Special Investor’s Resident Visa (SIRV) is a program offered by the Philippine government to alien investors wanting to obtain a special resident status with multiple entries for as long as the required investment subsists.
- SIRV for Investors in Tourist-Related Projects and Tourist Establishments is for foreigners who invest at least $50,000 USD in a qualified tourist-related project or tourism establishment, as determined by a governmental committee.
Special Resident Retiree’s Visa
Another option to reside in the Philippines if you are over the age of 50, is the Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV).
It’s a special non-immigrant visa for foreign nationals interested in making the Philippines their second home or investment destination.
SRRV is one of the world’s most accessible “retirement” visas to obtain, and there are several benefits that you can read about on the Philippine Retirement Authority Website.
The more popular option for digital nomads in the Philippines is the Non-Immigrant Visa, which is a 6-month visa extension that costs around $200. The Non-Immigrant Visa requires a passport photo, return or onward plane ticket, bank statements from the last six months and a copy of your most recent tax returns for self-employed visitors.
Work permit in the Philippines
Work permits in the Philippines only apply to those who work for companies in the Philippines who have tax obligations to the Philippine government, including volunteer opportunities. Foreign nationals working remotely for companies outside of the Philippines can’t qualify for work permits.
Do you need a visa to work remotely in the Philippines?
If you work for a foreign company remotely from the Philippines, you don’t need a special visa. Besides, there isn’t a suitable visa for that case anyway.
Working for a foreign company remotely from the Philippines isn’t currently covered by Philippine immigration laws; hence, there isn’t a special visa for such a situation.
By this definition, a remote worker isn’t “in the service of another” in the Philippines since only one party is located in the country. Furthermore, since a consultant isn’t a direct employee, they are, therefore, not considered an employee or employed in the Philippines.
Consequently, you can stay as a tourist. Ultimately, you don’t need a work permit either, If neither the company, the currency of compensation, nor work resources are located in the Philippines.
Internet and coworking in the Philippines
Major Philippine cities like Manila have great facilities for remote workers, but don’t expect to get a lot of work done on the islands if you need fast internet.
On the islands, you can expect blackouts on broadband and even mobile connections.
Manila has the best internet in the country. Internet speed in the Philippines ranks 103rd out of 176 countries, with 28.69 Mbps on average. It’s fairly low.
As a backup, you can get a local SIM card with unlimited internet access.
Want to work remotely from the Philippines?
Are you thinking about moving to the more affordable and tropical Philippines?
We are here to help. Our company, Support Adventure, has been hiring talented people worldwide to enable them to work from anywhere thanks to fully remote jobs.
We mostly have positions available in the IT industry. You can see our current open positions here!