This is part one in a series on retirement in the Philippines. Be sure visit Dot Property Philippines next week for the conclusion of the series. The entire article also appears in the current issue of Dot Property Magazine which you can click here to download.

Southeast Asia remains one of the top destinations for retirement globally. Low cost of living, beautiful beaches, warm weather and affordable healthcare are just a few reasons why retirees continue to flock here when it comes time to quit the rat race.

Those wanting to retire in Southeast Asia have no shortage of options. Thailand continues to be popular in spite of an opaque visa process. Malaysia is another retirement hotspot with the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program making it easy to purchase property and obtain a long-stay visa.

However, the Philippines stands out as perhaps being the most welcoming place for an international retiree, and we aren’t simply talking about the warm hospitality the country is known for. The Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV) issued by the Philippine Retirement Authority is arguably the best in Southeast Asia. This visa offers multiple-entry access and the right to stay indefinitely in the Philippines.

And yet, the Philippines lags behind its regional peers as a retirement destination. According to Philippine government data, a total of 6,437 retirement visas were issued in 2018, the highest total on record. This still pales in comparison to Thailand were a total of 80,000 retirement visas were issued by the government, according to data from the Bangkok Post.

In terms of cost, the Philippines is just as competitive as Thailand although the options available do differ. If you are applying for a Thai retirement visa, you are required to make a deposit of USD25,645 or have proof you receive a monthly pension of USD2,083 or more. All visa applicants in Thailand must be 50 years of age or older.

There is no pension dependant Philippine retirement visa option. Instead, applicants are required to make a deposit of USD10,000 and have proof of a USD800 monthly pension. Alternatively, you can apply with a deposit of USD20,000 and no pension requirement. Those between the ages of 35-49 can receive a Philippine retirement visa with a deposit of USD50,000.

What’s more, the deposit doesn’t have to stay in a bank as cash. The visa holder can convert it into the purchase of a condominium unit or leasehold rights on a land and house for 25 years.

Those wanting to retire with their loved one are also in luck. The applicant can also obtain a visa for two dependents, a spouse and a child under the age of 21. These are just some of the far-reaching benefits of the retirement in the Philippines.

“A foreign SRRV holder is entitled to many privileges, such as being exempt from Philippine Bureau of Immigration taxes. Holders are not required to pay taxes on pension and annuities as well,” Malou Gonzales Santos, Philsworld Documentation Services General Manager and Accredited Marketer of the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA), says. “You are also exempt from paying customs duties and taxes on imported household goods and personal effects valued up to USD7,000.  A number of discount privileges are available for services offered by PRA merchant partners.”

Applying for the SRRV is straightforward and can take as little as three weeks to complete if you are prepared.

“Processing the SRRV takes about 20 working days upon completion of your requirements. Documents you need to obtain in the Philippines, such as medical and National Bureau of Investigation clearance, can be done in three working days or less. Other requirements need to be completed in your country origin must be done before applying. These include receiving police clearance in your home country and transferring money into the Philippines,” Santos explains. “Working with a PRA accredited marketer can save you time and ensure someone is there to help you throughout the process.”

You are required to apply for the SRRV from the Philippine Retirement Authority. Applicants cannot hold any other visa other than a temporary visitor’s visa.

For more information on Philsworld Documentation Services, visit www.philsworld.net.ph or email philsworld.docserve@gmail.com.