obtaining a 13a resident visa

balikbayan_entry_stampForeigners who are married to a Filipino and want to live in the Philippines do need the necessary papers to be able to do so.
There are a few possibilities to stay in the Philippines. Once a foreigner and his or her spouse arrive in the Philippines they can get a ‘balikbayan’ status, which means that they are allowed to stay for 12 months without getting a visa. After that, if they like to stay longer, they should get a visa.

  • The first possibility is a tourist visa which has a valadity of two months and needs to be renewed every two months. Foreigners, not married to a Filipino citizen need to do this or get a SRRV.

  • The second possibility is to apply for a so called 13a visa. This visa is only possible if the foreigner is married to a Filipino Citizen. If the spouse of the foreigner doesn’t have Filipino Citizenship because of marriage to this Foreigner, he or she can get Filipino citizenship back by requiring for it. After that is done the application for 13a visa for the Foreigner husband can be done.
  • The third possibility is to get a Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV) . This type of staying permit can also be given to Foreigners not married to a Filipino citizen.

Let me give you some links first so you can check your possibilities and the requirements.

(links to government sites in the Philippines are often broken, why? They have more traffic than the hosting company allows !!)

Recently my wife and I have applied for the 13a visa for me. Untill now I was just a tourist in the Philippines after the balikbayan status has expired.
I will describe the procedure here, as we have experienced at the Immigration Office in Intramuros, Manila. I will also mention about the costs for it. I have tried to be as accurate as possible, but the Immigration Office might change procedures or fees so this is just my experience.
All over the country there are Immigration Offices where one can go and apply for this type of visa.

If you are interested in reading how I get my 13a visa, just click on page 2 below

Leave a Reply or Comment

  1. 12,220 pesos! What a bargain! So far, it’s cost me around $2000 US (86,220 PH Peso) to go from K-1 Fiancee Visa to Resident for my now Pinay wife. Can’t complain, though. She’s a great cook!

    • Hi Opus,
      A K1 visa is for a Filipino going to the USA, as far as I know. You cannot compare it to the Immigration procedures in the Philippines.
      And if she’s a great cook, just do not complain and pay….. You’ll have a partner for life… (if you behave yourself ;-) )

  2. can you also get the retired visa as well or is it only the 13A. The reason I am asking is because if you have the other one there are no import fees when you are bringing your household goods with you to the PI as I am. which would be better or do they both have the same privleges? thx

    • Hi, I’m not sure about all the privileges for 13a. I do not need to import goods anymore. In my case I send everything I wanted to bring through a balikbayan service, even furniture items. But you are right about the SRRV program, it is allowed to import your household goods without paying taxes for them. How this goes in real life, I don’y know and I haven’t heard about it of someone, but knowing the Philippines…..
      At the respective websites you will find more information about both programs.

    • The interview took only 10 minutes. The lawyer was interested to see if we didn’t have a marriage ‘just to have the papers’.
      Nothing serious or anything to worry about.

          • Arrived @ 9:30am, while waiting an older white male passed out in the elevator. Created a stir of course.At 9:55 we went to the office of the atty that was handling our hearing. We finally got in there around 10:20-ish! The atty was really nice. She asked a few questions, most were of the obvious type. Near the end, she dropped the bombshell on us. They (BOI) were in the mist of changing things (which we experienced before) This one was, before it took two weeks to get approval. Now she says it will take at least one month! Soon as my name appear on the website, we’re to report to the executive office window to start the acr card process. So now, we wait! Good thing I extended this past Monday!

          • Hi Joe,
            Thanks for sharing your experiences. Hopefully you do not have to wait too long. (and prepare already for next year: same procedure again)

      • Jan I was wondering if you had to get medical quarantine stamp on your passport as on for the requirements for your 13 a visa.

        • Hi Richard,

          No I did not have such stamp. I came to the Philippines and only got a balikbayan stamp. Later I applied for the 13a.

  3. great info from every one maybe you can answer my simple question im American with pino wife we are planning moveing back to general santos the end of this september i will get the one year visa at time of entry ,when i apply for 13a can i do it in gensan or do i have to go to manila? also will i still have to leave the country every year? sounds like we will have a busy 1st year

    • Gerald,
      When you enter the PI you will receive the balikbayan status, this is valid for 12 months. If you do not take further actions you have to leave the country for 24 hours. Possibility 1 is: change balikbayan status into tourist visa (valid two months, extendable 10 to 12 times each two months). Possibility 2: your Filipino spouse has to apply for 13a visa. This can be done at any major Immigration Office. If nit in GenSan, maybe in Davao? You may visit their website and call them to find out. 13a visa takes some time so prepare early.

      • thanks for your time and all the info im sure you are a great help to many.maybe when i get settled and have lots of exsperiencs behind me i can be help to some one thank you for your services.be there soon

  4. Hello!
    We are new here!
    We will move to Filipines in 2014 with my Pinõy wife for good from Australia.
    Anybody have done it?
    Share experience please
    Jiri and Dalia

  5. Thank you!
    We are using one company called LBC. Sending parcels to my wife’s family. Cheap and you can trust them.
    Wish to trust company they bring in your yard container and drop it in Philippines with everything inside untouched.
    Lot of moving companies in Philippines take what they like and them say SORRY…..
    We’ll keep looking it is still time. We’re moving in 2015..
    Jiri and Dalia

  6. Hello Jan!

    We would like to know, how to make sure if you’re buying used car, that car hasn’t been stolen, it is under finance and generally it is a legal car to buy and drive in Philippines.
    We have option in Australia to check every motor vehicle you can buy using VIN number.
    Any experience with that?
    Thanks for reply…..

    • Hi Jiri and Dalia,
      When we bought our car, almost three years ago, we decided to buy a brand new one. Our arguments were: if we buy a second hand car you never know if the car had an accident before, what the mileage is, how the maintainance was, and if the car was stolen or fully paid. To avoid any problems and to get a full three years warranty we decided to buy a brand new one.
      So we do not have experience in buying a second hand car. But if you plan to do so, look for someone in your family whom you can trust and who knows about cars.
      Prizes of second hand cars are high compared to other (western) countries. Brand new cars are much cheaper here than in the rest of the world.

  7. Hi Jan!
    Thank you. I agree with you. New cars are sure new and all title and history are clear. I will (when our time will come) look for a new car option. You are right prices of new cars in Filipines are lower, much lower then here in Australia.
    I drive BMW 120i and my wife little compact Mercedes A 160 class
    (I came from Europe….. hehehe)
    I have already list of dealers and will deal with them. Safe and sure what you’re buing.
    Thank you for your reply.
    We will write again in another topics soon. It is so many question to live safely and happy up there.
    Jiri and Dalia

  8. Just an update, it has been over a month now and no word yet! :-( I don’t know if this is normal since it is a new thing they started, but they update the website when they want to it seems, but when they DO get around to updating, the date is always the previous Thursday! I’m in a corner because my return ticket expires on the 1st of Oct, although the current extension is up on the 8th! If they didn’t screw us on the NSO crap, I think things would have been settled one way or another now, but I’m trying my best to keep positive!

  9. Hello!
    I’ve been here a year and I’m getting married in June. However I have to leave the country for 24 hours on March 31 and come back on a new tourist visa which will erase time ive been here. Is there a minimum stay required to apply for the13a? (example: if I’ve been in the Phil for two months and get married, can I apply for the13a just being here 2 months on my new tourist visa?)

    • Hi Matthew,
      To get a 13a visa, you need to be married first. After that your wife needs to apply for your 13a visa.
      Tourist visa can be extended every two months.

  10. Hi,
    Do you know if i can leave the Philippines having 13A probationary visa ?
    I read at several forums once you leave the country the 13A is no longer valid and one have to start the procedure all over again, is this true ?
    Thanks, Karl

    • Hi Karl,
      When you have a probationary 13a visa you should read the small letters in the black area on the back of the card. It says: This card serves as re-entry permit …..
      In my opinion customs cannot make difficulties.
      But it would be wise to go to immigration and ask a permit to leave the country for a vacation.

      When someone has a similar ACR card on a tourist visa, that card should be given to the customs when leaving the country.

      Right under your name and place of birth is stated what kind of visa you have: if it states TV = tourist visa; if it states Sec 13A (prob) = probationary 13a visa.

      note: this is my view on things, it might not be correct, but I believe it is.

      • Hello Jan,
        Thanks for your advice
        I live since 1998 most of the time in the PH on Tourist visas.
        Married in 2006 in Davao, now i’m planning to ship my personal things over in a 20′ container from Antwerp (if i can find transport for a reasonable price, i’m still searching). I want to avoid the heavy import taxes so with the 13a no problems i’m bin told.
        However i dont’t have the 13a yet, i’m planning to apply for one when i arrive back in the PH in April, problem is that i only can stay for a couple months this time and hope to get everthing done in that short period. i will be back in october 2012 hopefully forever if everything works out fine.

        PS, the example document “Duly notarized letter of application by the Filipino spouse” as you stated, i can’t find it on the ph website, do you have a clou where i can obtain one ?

        Thanks again and best regards, Karl

  11. Hello Jan,
    My Husband and I wants to apply for his 13a Visa but there is one requirements that I am not sure what to do with it “NSO authenticated copy of the Marriage Contract of alien and Filipino spouse or authenticated by the Philippine embassy/consulate nearest to or in the place where the marriage was solemnized”. We were married in Fl, USA and now living in the philippines for almost 7 months. When I ask the person in BI about the marriage certificate, he said I have to get that in the Philippine Embassy in the US. I have a marriage ceritifate but he said I have to bring that to the philippine embassy and get authenticated. The problem is we are now living in PI and don’t have any plans yet to go back in the US. So, my question is do I really have to make a trip to USA just to get that authenticated in the philippine embassy in the US? hope to hear from you.

    • Hi Maria,
      I would like to advise you to contact the American Embassy in Manila about it, maybe they know what to do. Goodluck

  12. Hello Jan,

    I will be getting married in September to my filipina wife. I am 37 years old, and I do not have a pension or any type of extra income. I have a savings built up to about $20,000. I am curious if I were to get the 13a visa do they ask for my income? Also, I have been working in a call center for 10 years. I would like to work in a call center here, so am I able to work on a 13a visa? Thanks for any help. Great blog!

    • Hi Terry,
      Thanks for visiting this blog.
      When your Filipina wife is applying for your 13a visa, there are no questions asked about income or savings, at least nothing was asked to us. Because you are still young maybe they will ask you how to generate income.
      Only after you have a 13a visa you are allowed to work in the Philippines. But every employer has to ask permission from the government to hire you. And do not expect the same salaries as in your home country.
      There are many nice posts on this website where you will find good information. Just use the search option in the sidebar.

      • Hi Jan,
        I have a tourist Icard which is completely useless and now to get a 13A you need to get a police clearance from your home country, mine being America. So with this lovely amount of new paperwork I need to buy, When it’s all said and done can I finally work here? I have passed the interviews and tests for at least 5 call centers and they all say you did great we would hire you but we can’t so go away. will this magical 13A stop this problem or is it like the rest just throwing money away for nothing?

  13. Thank goodness I found this site…I am recently divorced?separated Filipina who holds a germaqn passport. I have my children with me and have found a school that would take them mid term. Now my question is, to avoid having to go in and out each year to get our balibayan visas renewed, what can I do to be able to stay here indefinitely. I do not want to lose our german passports as it is imperative the children still be able to fly in and out as much as necessary to see their dad in germany and alsoi have the ease of no restrictions for visa obtaining (as Philippine passport holders suffer).
    I am grateful for any and all advice and help you can extend.
    Regina Wilson-(noch Beer)

    • Hi Gina,
      You have come to the right place.
      I assume that your children also have German citizenship.
      Because you are the mother (a born Filipina), your children and you can reacquire Philippine citizenship without losing German citizenship.
      check this page of immigration: http://immigration.gov.ph/

      At any immigration office they can tell you what to do best. But do not forget to renew your German Passports when the time is there. This can be done at the German embassy. And do it in time, before the expiration date.


  14. Thank you so much Jan. Before we left Germany this is also the inof I gathered but someone from the Philippine embassy in berlin told me that as my children were born while I was already a german citizen, they had no right to claim on dual citizenship. Ich auch nicht. I am a bit confused and a bit hesitent to “re-claim” my philippine passport as I am afraid to lose my german passport. For obvious reasons that the father of my children will eventually claim them back and I will have no recourse but to accept the fate of having neither the german citizenship I worked so hard to obtain (not just by being married to one but going to school and claiming it on my own). Would you have any idea what would happen to me and my children if this were the case?
    Again my deepest gratitude for your time and effort.

    • Regina,
      Once again: check the website of immigration or eventually go there and ask for yourself.
      I am a Dutch citizen (Netherlands) and not familiar with German law, but although European, laws in different countries might not be the same.
      Aside from my knowledge, the law and regulations in the Philippines can change from time to time. So I strongly advise you to inquire there. Or visit a specialized lawyer.