[Ask Henry] – 1 Way Ticket and Visa Requirements, How?

Question:  “Joseph Heupel here..  I was told I must have a round trip airline ticket to enter the philippines and must leave the country and return every two years and I was forced to pay $50.00 every year for a tourist card and register and pay fees to immigration every two months.  Your [bio] says you entered the country with a one way ticket???  How do you avoid all the BS I have endured for years????????”
— From Joseph Heupel

Henry:  In my case, unlike most sane people who first visit then return home to think about it and return later.. I wanted to come here and stay here sight-unseen.  But I didn’t want to pay for a round-trip ticket I had no intention of using.  Since I intend to stay indefinitely, constantly paying $100 to re-extend my plane ticket is not a viable option.  But then, neither is spending $750+ for a ticket I wouldn’t use either.

That’s where the idea of a “Throw-Away Ticket” came into play.  I found out about it from other ex-pats and did it myself when I came here.  First I booked a One-Way ticket to the Philippines from my home country (USA) after doing some shopping online (Priceline.com.. I’m a big Shatner fan) .  Then.. I got my ‘throw-away’ ticket from Air Asia.com for a cheap ticket (about $24) going from Philippines to Malaysia.. with a departure date of less than 21 days from my arrival in Philippines.  And I was all set.

Sure enough.. when I checked in at LAX/Los Angeles for my flight (I went with Cathay Pacific, I liked it).. they asked me for my Return Ticket to comply with Philippines immigration requirements.  It really should be called a “Leave the Philippines” requirement because it’s not necessary that you return to your home country.. it’s only necessary that you leave the Philippines after your initial 21 days as a ‘Tourist’.  So.. I showed the LAX check-in lady my ticket I’d gotten from Air Asia, she gave it the once over and processed my boarding pass to go to the Philippines.

When I arrived in the Philippines I made a note on my calendar of THAT DAY’S DATE.  The 21 days start the day of your arrival (you may already know all this part, but for sake of new readers I’ll re-state it).  As for that ticket I got to Malaysia, you guessed it.. I had no plans to use that ticket.  I had it ready to show to the Philippines customs/immigration people when I got off the airplane in Mactan/Cebu Airport but they didn’t even ask for it.  They might though, so have it with you when you arrive.

Around my 19th or 20th day I then visited the BI (Bureau of Immigration) and simply have been extending my Tourist Visa ever since.  Usually for a 2 month period at a time.  I can do that for about 13 months and then I need to take a REAL departure anywhere outside the Philippines for at least 24 hours.. return with another throw-away ticket and.. repeat the process.  I figure it’ll be a good excuse to visit Thailand or Malaysia when the time comes.  Meanwhile, no need to pay for a full round-trip ticket back to the States.  Easy-peasy.

As for the bi-monthly fees to extend a stay here as a ‘tourist’.. no way around that.  However..

There is one way to get around this whole 2-month renewal nonsense.. marry a Filipina and get a change to resident status as her husband.  But being as how there is no divorce in the Philippines you may want to be really, really sure she’s “the One”.   🙂

Henry V.


Author: Reekay V.

Since 2012 I’ve been traveling through various islands of the Philippines as a full-time Expat and spent 1999 living in Vietnam.

Share with me my ongoing adventures of life in the Philippines. Hopefully you find my observations helpful in your own adventures.
— Reekay


  1. I am here in Balikbayan status and we also got a 'throw away' ticket. I am married to a former Filipina (she is a US citizen now) and we must leave for at least 1 day, once a year and then we get another Balikbayn stamp in our passports and are good for another year. If you plan the trips a few months in advance, there are plenty of sales on the airlines, especially Cebu Pacific going out of the Philippines. If you are retired military, then you could get a HOP from Clark for free going out of country. Just be sure to ask for the Balikbayan stamp when you return.
    There are ways to extend the visa's also. I have found that http://www.philfaqs.com has the best visa and medical information for expats. At least it's the best one that I have found.

    1. Good info. In addition to http://www.philfaqs.com there is also http://www.liveinthephilippines.com run by Mindenao Bob who has lots of Visa info there too.

      Is the Balikbayan status only available to Marrieds?.. anything for us Single guys other than the 2-month extensions available? I haven't heard of anything but if you know of something I'll do some research on it. Each 2-month renewal is about $75, with getting the ACR Card after the first 51 days being about $225.

      1. Hey Henry, it is great you have the attitude of abundance and direct people to other Expat blogs. May I suggest you make the links pop-up in a new window so that you don’t direct people completely off of your site 😉

        I am coming to Philippines for my first visit, plan on being in the Cebu/Bohol area Nove 4th, 2013…

        1. Not sure how I can do it from within the comments section. But I plan to re-build the Resources page so that external Expat Blogs can be linked from there with a fresh window. Just need to get the time for that, been working on the videos lately. But I’ll announce it when it’s re-vamped. In the meanwhile,

          TECH TIP.. if you hold down the ‘Shift’ key as you click on the link.. it will open in a new window. 🙂 Or.. you can Right-Click the window and choose to have it open in a New Tab.

    1. Technically.. both are true, but that’s good news. Under normal circumstances a Tourist Visa can be extended as far as 16 months ever since a change in policy back in 2007. However.. if you want it to extend to a full 2 years, this needs to be requested in advance and will most likely be granted. But it’s not automatic, so taking a few minutes to ask about the 2 year extension of a Tourist Visa at the BI office would be a good idea.
      Here is an article that goes into further detail on it. You can also contact ‘Mindenao Bob’ via email, he’s generally very attentive to responding and has been living here for well over 10 years. Here’s the link;

  2. Ha Henry. You’re right. While you can easily get a throw away ticket, there is no such thing in the Philippines as a throw away asawa (wife). This place is not Vegas! Getting away once ever year or so can be just what the Dr. ordered though and Thailand, Hong Kong or Singapore would all be good choices for whatever ails you. 😉

  3. Question for you: I will going to the Philippines in the near future to travel with my fiance to Manila to help her get her K1 Visa.

    I hate to get a roundtrip ticket because I don't know how long the embassy will take to mail her passport back to her. But I am concerned that I will have to be in the Philippines longer than 21 days.

    What do you recommend?

    1. I would say, do as I described and use Air Asia to get a cheap (usually $24) ticket from say, Clark Airport to Malaysia (in addition to your 1-way flight to Philippines).. and you can land in the Philippines with no round-trip ticket. If you stay beyond the 21 days, just get an extension from the Bureau of Immigration for about $35 a month. Then.. when you are ready to return, book your return flight online with whatever carrier you like.

  4. p.p.s. — To get the most accurate conversion, use the updated Dollar / Peso Converter along the right-hand column of any page here on my site. 🙂

  5. Hello Henry! Hope all is well! Came across your website when I was browsing youtube.com for information about moving to the Phil.. My wife and I have a large family (7 kids)! Yes, seven! And yes, they are all mine. Maury Povich told me lol! Now, with that said, I am looking for a wonderful and safe place to move. We are attempting to leave America behind, We all have passports. I work for a large telecom company in the US that has ties to the Phil. So my hope is to transfer there. Where is a good area to stay with a large family like ours? Do you have any suggestions for a family such as ours moving over there? What about income….we are very frugal, and I know you’ve mentioned 1,200 can render a decent living for 1 person….so am I to assume that I have to have seven times that much over there? And would the country be accepting of such a large family???? When I move, I am not trying to move back to America. Weighing options and would be looking to move in 2014. Any information you can give will be helpful! Thanks!

    1. One place I would recommend for a large family life is Iloilo. In town there is a large mall with everything you would need. But inland there is beautiful green province land that is absolutely amazing. I would check online for schools there first. Now, over in Cebu they have many excellent schools, however I don’t recommend the ‘big city’ myself for a lifestyle, but that’s just me. Plus, in Cebu you could always opt to live in one of the province areas just south of Cebu City and take your kids in for school. Just some thoughts. Anyone else with experience on good places with good schools, feel free to comment here.

  6. Henry,

    I have not see what I’m about to describe posted before (or, maybe I just skipped it).

    I was in the Philippines from Sept through February, did all the extensions, and got my temp ACR, I had to come back to the states to “babysit” my grandson while my daughter-in-law is at Army training, (my son is also in the Army (NG) and had several training opportunities during the same period so, grandpa stepped up. Anyway, upon my arrival at Ninoy to catch my plane, I was hit first with the 550 P, I believe for the airport fee. Then when I went through to catch the plane there was the immigration windows again. Well, since I had only the temp ARC I had to pay another 3500 P (I believe the figure was), this was 2 weeks after getting my last extension.

    I know it’s the cost of being able to live in paradise, but it just hit me out of nowhere. Fortunately I had kept 5000 P in my wallet.

    Anyway, just thought I’d put that out there and see if you also were caught off guard by it, or if you knew about it beforehand.


    1. I’m not sure why that would have happened to you, especially since you had your temp ACR card. I had ordered my renewed ACR card months before I left and, days before my flight, it still wasn’t ready so I left without it. Coming back I passed through the BI at the airport without problems. But it is a good idea to have extra Pesos on hand for just such an emergency. Good thinking.

  7. Henry,

    I enjoy your posts and videos immensely.

    Would you mind giving us a typical monthly budget?


    Bruce S.

    1. Mr Slomovitz ,
      I have not visited the PHs . I am however seriously considering retiring somewhere over there later this year. Valencia and Dumaquete are being touted as a premiere retirement destination for expats based on friendly smiles and low cost of living. I understand that a couple can live quite nicely between $800 and $1200 US per month of course depending on your own personnel lifestyle and needs. Which seems to line up with what Ive been able to research and also by following this site which is probably the most insightful Iv`e come across. (Henry is great ) I guess that I would be considered your stereotypical single white male in the Philippines. But really I have no expectations other than value for my dollar and a warm sunny climate Take it from there. Good luck.

  8. From the Tourism website:


    The travel tax is a levy imposed by the Philippine government on the following individuals who are leaving the country irrespective of the place where the air ticket is issued and the form or place of payment, as provided for by Presidential Decree (PD) 1183, as amended:

    A. Citizens of the Philippines;

    B. Permanent resident aliens whose immigration status maybe any of the following:
    Sec. 13 Quota or Preference Immigrant Visa
    Sec. 13 A Visa issued to an Alien Spouse of Philippine Citizen
    Sec. 13 B Child born outside the Philippines by a 13A Mother
    Sec. 13 C Child born in the Philippines by a 13A Mother
    Sec. 13 D Loss of Citizenship by a Filipino Woman by her Marriage to an Alien
    Sec. 13 E / RP# Returning Resident
    Sec. 13 G NB Former Natural-born Citizen of the Philippines who was Naturalized by a Foreign Country
    TRV (LI #33) Temporary Residence Visa
    RA 7919 Alien Social Integration Act of 1995
    RC /RFC /IC Recognition as Filipino Citizen
    RA 7837 Permanent Resident
    EO 324 Illegal Aliens Who Entered the Philippines Before Jan. 1, 1984 and Continuously Resided in an Unlawful Status
    MCL-07-021 Granting Permanent Residence to Chinese and Korean nationals
    MCL-08-003PD 730/PD 419 Granting Permanent Residence to Certain Alien Non-Immigrants

    C. Non-resident aliens who have stayed in the Philippines for more than one(1) year.

    Note: Non-immigrant aliens who have not stayed in the Philippines for more than a year are not covered by the travel tax. However, TIEZA F356 need to be prepared by the ticketing officer for passengers with the following immigration status except for FGO & their dependents (Sec. 9E) who have stayed for more than a year, they have to secure Travel Tax Exemption Certificate.

    9 Temporary Visitor coming for business or for pleasure or for reasons of health
    9 B Transit Passenger
    9 C Foreign Seamen
    9 D Treaty Trader/Investor
    9 E Foreign Government Officials (If more than 1 year secure TEC)
    9 F Foreign Students
    9 G Pre-Arranged Employee
    47 A2 / PEZA Special Non-Immigrant Visa
    47 B Refugees
    APEC/ABTC APEC Business Travel Card
    EO 408 Tourist/ non-visa required nationals admitted for 21 days
    EO 226 Omnibus Investments Act of 1987
    —SIRV Special Investors Resident Visa
    EO 63 SIRV in Tourist-Related Projects and Tourist Establishments
    EO 1037 Philippines Retirement Authority
    —SRRV —Special Retiree Resident Visa/ Indefinite
    EO 191 Granting No-Visa Entry for initial stay of 7 Days for Chinese
    Nationals who are holders of Macao-Portuguese Passport
    EO 758/SVEG Special Visa for Employment Generation effective March 9, 2009
    LOI 911 Granting No-Visa Entry for initial stay of 7 Days for Chinese
    Nationals for holders of HK-British-HK-SAR Passport
    PD 1034 Executives of Multinational Companies
    RA 6768 / BB 1yr Balikbayan
    RA 7227 Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992
    —SSIV —Subic Special Investor Visa
    —SSRV —Subic Special Retiree’s Visa
    —SSWV —Subic Special Working Visa
    —SCWV —Special Clark Working Visa
    RA 7922/CEZA Cagayan Special Economic Zone
    RA 9225 Dual Passport (if arrival is stamped in Philippine passport
    w/ PP pax to secure TEC)
    RA 9728/FWV/AFAB FAB Working Visa (Freeport Area of Bataan)
    SSP Special Study Permit (Student Visa)
    SWP Special Work Permit under Law Instruction 27
    TVV Temporary Visitors Visa
    TWP Temporary Work Permit
    US Military VFA-USA NS Pecos

    As mandated by the law, the taxes are divided among the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprize Zone Authority (TIEZA), the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for use in government projects and programs.

  9. Hello Henry,
    One of my filpina friends who wants to visit her relatives in the east coast. She already have Philippine past port and a visa. She's asking me what's the other requirements before she goes on a vacation in the U.S.?

  10. Hi Henry,

    It’s amazing how small the world is. I moved to Murrieta, Ca back in 2002. My Filipina wife and I decided to purchase a home there. I retired from the US Navy after 23 years and subsequently my wife chose to divorce me. I plan to move to the Philippines with my older brother Joe sometime next year… Hope to get a chance to meet you after we arrive over there…

  11. Henry are there any changes you are aware of in the “throwaway” ticket process? I am preparing to book my one way trip to Cebu with an expected stay of three months. I will be purchasing an exit ticket before the thirty day period expires. I am also planning to book a second one way ticket for my return to the US but three months later and of course renew my tourist visa during the first 30 days and then whenever it is again required before I leave the Philippines. Do I have this right? Thank you for all you do getting good information out in so many areas.

    1. Not sure I understand you correctly. You don’t need a throwaway ticket to return the usa.

      One you are in the PH, you don’t need a throwaway ticket to get an extension either. you only need the throwaway ticket the enter the PH when you lack an ongoing flight. (because you plan to stay beyond 30 days.)

      1. Thanks Henry. I should have been clearer. My plan is essentially to purchase three one way tickets. The first will be my one way ticket from the US to Cebu. The second will be the throw away ticket which will show my departure from the Philippines well within the 30 Visa on arrival period. Of course I will not be using that. If I understand your teaching correctly, that ticket is merely to satisfy the airline and the government of the Philippines that I intend to leave within the 30 day allowance after arrival. The third one way ticket will be my actual return ticket which will be no longer than three months after my first arrival in country. I am wondering if I have correctly understood you as this will be my first time using this process. Thanks for your patience. Glad you are feeling bettter but too bad you didn’t get a chance to fully enjoy your vacation.


Comments are closed.