Travel in the Philippines
The Philippine archipelago is a network of more than 7,100 islands, with 800 plus of these being inhabited. The residents of the Philippines are an inventive, resourceful people with a culture based on faith and strong family values. That alone makes it a worthwhile country to visit, but the history of the country makes it an irresistible location for history buffs. The islands were the location of intense battles during the second world war, and the location of MacArthur's famous "I shall return" pledge. There are literally hundreds of historic locations that can be visited in the Philippines, in addition to the standard tourist destinations. If you are a U.S. citizen who would like to visit the Philippines, first obtain a tourist visa.
Determine if you even need a visa. You can enter the Philippines for a stay of no more than 21 days without obtaining a visa. If you will be staying for more than three weeks, continue to the next step.
Obtain two passport photographs. When you apply for your Philippine visa, you will need to have a passport photograph that measure 2 inches by 2 inches. If you have existing passport photographs, they can be used as long as they were taken within the last six months.
Locate the Philippine Consulate Office that is nearest to where you live. The main Philippine Embassy is in Washington, D.C., but there are Philippine consulate offices in many major cities. You can find a complete list of locations on the website for the embassy.
Obtain an application form for a non-immigrant visa to the Philippines. The form can be obtained from the consulate office that manages your area, or it can be printed online at the Philippine embassy website. Simply click the link for "Consular Forms," then click the link for the non-immigrant visa application.
Complete the visa application form, but do not sign it. If you will be traveling to the consulate office in person, you should sign the application in the presence of the consular. If you will be sending your application by mail, sign the application in the presence of a notary public, who will check your identification and notarize the form as proof that you are really the one who signed it.
Gather proof of financial responsibility. You will need two items for this. First, you will need a photocopy of a recent bank statement to show that you are financially able to travel. Second, you will need to have either photocopies of a round-trip ticket or a certification from a travel agent that you will be in possession of round-trip tickets at the time of your travel. The reason for these items is to make sure no one finds themselves stranded in the Philippines without a method of returning home.
Research the application fee. Up-to-date fees can always be obtained from the Philippine embassy. As of 2010, the fee is $30 for a single-entry visa that expires in three months, $60 for a single that expires in six months, or $90 for a multiple-entry visa that expires after one year. Note that the visa is only valid for a stay of up to 59 days per entry, regardless of when the visa expires.
Package together your application form, a check or money order for the application fee and your proof of financial responsibility. Also include your passport, which must be valid for a period of six months beyond your date of travel. Either take them to your nearest consulate office in person or mail your application. If your application is mailed, provide a postage-paid envelope for the return of your passport, preferably by FedEx, UPS, DHL or other certified courier.
Get your passport back with the visa inside. If you take your paperwork to the consulate in person, you can expect to get your visa processed and added to your passport within a couple of hours. If you mail your paperwork, you should receive everything back in about a week, but processing times may vary depending upon the volume of requests.