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Frequently Asked Questions

• Can a foreigner own real property in the Philippines?

As a general rule, the Philippine Constitution limits ownership of real property to Filipino citizens only. Aliens are in principle prohibited from owning lands and other real estate properties. However, former Filipinos can, to a certain extent, acquire real properties. The Philippine Constitution provides that a "natural-born citizen of the Philippines who lost his/her Philippine citizenship may be a transferee of private lands subject to limitations provided by law."

A natural-born Filipino, who has become naturalized citizen of another country, and who has the legal capacity to enter into a contract under Philippine laws, may acquire or be a transferee of private lands in the Philippines.

The transferees must not use the land acquired for any purpose other than for their residence.

The transferee is entitled to acquire and own private land up to a maximum area of five thousand (5,000) square meters in the case of urban, or three (3) hectares of rural land.

In the case of a married couple, any or both of them may avail themselves of the said privilege, provided that if both avail themselves of the same, the total area of land shall not exceed the allowed maximum limit.

In case the transferee already owns urban or rural lands for business purposes, he/she may acquire additional urban or rural lands, which when added to those he/she presently owns shall not exceed the authorized maximum area.

The transferee may acquire not more than two (2) lots, which may situated in different municipalities or cities anywhere in the Philippines, provided that the total area of these lots does not exceed 5,000 square meters of urban land and three (3) hectares of rural land for business purposes. A transferee who has already acquired urban land shall be disqualified from acquiring rural land and vice versa. However, if the transferee has disposed of his urban land, he may still acquire rural land and vice versa, provided that this will not be used for business.

• Can I bring my Swiss spouse to retire in the Philippines?

The present immigration law of the Philippines provides that the wife or the husband, or unmaried children under 21 years of age, of Philippine citizens or former Philippine citizens are qualified to apply for a non-quota immigrant visa.

As a matter of policy, immigration visas are issued to nationals or subjects of countries which grant similar privileges to Filipino citizens. In the case of certain aliens, such as women married to Filipino citizens, they may be issued immigration visas regardless of whether or not their countries grant reciprocal privileges to Filipino citizens.

• Do children of Filipino citizens born in Switzerland have dual citizenship?

The Philippine Constitution provides that the child of a Filipino parent (whether father or mother) is a Philippine citizen. The place of the child's birth is not relevant for determining the child's Philippine citizenship; it is the Filipino parentage or blood relationship that matters.

When one parent is a Filipino citizen and the other parent is a Swiss citizen, the child has both the Swiss citizenship (by application of Swiss law) and the Philippine citizenship (by application of Philippine law). In short, children from mixed Swiss-Filipino marriages have dual citizenships.

When both parents are Filipinos, the child born in Switzerland is a Filipino citizen but not a Swiss citizen.

• I am going on holiday to the Philippines. What are the things I have to prepare?

Present regulations provide that Filipinos traveling to the Philippines should be holders of a valid Philippine passport or Philippine Travel Document for those who are unable to renew their passport.

The Philippine Bureau of Immigration advises that persons claiming Philippine citizenship in possession of an expired Philippine passport may be denied entry. Former Filipino citizens holding foreign passport should have a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the intended period of stay in the Philippines.

• What are the requirements for Filipino permanent residents abroad availing themselves of the travel tax exemption privilege?

Filipino permanent residents abroad may avail themselves of the travel tax exemption privilege, upon submission of the following to the Philippine Tourism authority in Manila:

a. For permanent residents abroad:

  1. Proof of permanent residence in a foreign country, e.g., copy of residence permit / carte de legitimation or working permit in Switzerland;
  2. Philippine Income Tax Return (ITR) for the preceeding year for those who are between 18 to 60 years old and are employed. The ITR may either be an information return for those who did not derive income in the Philippines, or the appropriate ITR form prescribed by the BIR for those who derived income in the Philippines. Those who are UNEMPLOYED have to execute an affidavit duly notarized by the Philippine embassy. Consular fee is SFr. 42.50. Submit a photocopy of the passport and self-addressed stamped envelope for the return of the document. This affidavit is not required for those who are 18 years old or above 60.
  3. Philippine passport- submit photocopy of (a) identification pages and (b) page showing latest arrival date in the Philippines. The exemption shall be granted if the applicants permanent resident status has lapsed or he/she has stayed in the Philippines for more than 1 year, whichever comes first.

b. For overseas workers

  1. Those hired on site by foreign of Filipino principals- Certification from the employer duly seen and noted by the Philippine Embassy or Contract of Employment duly verified and authenticated by the Embassy. The exemption is valid only for travel to the place of work. Consular fee is SFr. 42.50. Seen and noted fee is SFr. 42.50.
  2. Those processed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)- Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) issued by POEA serves as travel exemption certificate. There is no need to secure exemption certificate from the Philippine Tourism Authority.

• Who can avail of the balikbayan privilege?

No visa shall be required, as a privilege, for a maximum stay of one (1) year for former Filipino citizens. The traveler has to declare before the Philippine Immigration Officer at the port of entry that they are availing themselves of the said privilege, and present their current Swiss passport plus any of the following:

  1. Cancelled Philippine Passport or birth certificate
  2. Naturalization papers as proof of former Philippine citizenship or
  3. Certification from adopted country.

This privilege is also extended to families of former Filipino citizens and families of Filipino citizens, (e.g. foreign spouse and minor children) provided they are not required entry visas under existing regulations and they are traveling together with the balikbayan spouse or parent to the Philippines.

The family members should present the following at the Philippine port of entry:

  1. Valid passport
  2. Marriage certificate of the spouses
  3. Birth certificate in the case of minor children or adoption papers in the case of adopted children.

• I want to bring our favorite family car to the Philippines when I settle there for retirement. Are there any tax exemption privileges for the importation of used motor vehicles by permanent residents abroad, returning balikbayans or dual citizens?

They may bring their motor vehicles into the Philippines upon payment of the corresponding duties and taxes due on these vehicles subject to the rules and regulations of the Bureau of Import Services and the Bureau of Customs. There are no tax exemption privileges for returning balikbayans, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), permanent residents abroad or dual citizens who decide to settle in the Philippines permanently. (Per FSC 279-04 dated 28 September 2004)

• I am a Filipina divorced from my Swiss husband. What are the implications of my divorce as far as Philippine law is concerned?

A divorce decree obtained abroad, upon the initiative of the Filipino wife, is not recognized or considered valid in the Philippines. The Family Code of the Philippines provides that "where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have the capacity to marry under Philippine law."

The Philippine Justice Department opined that while divorce is not allowed in the Philippines, the only instance where a divorced Filipino can remarry under Philippine law is when the divorce has been initiated or petitioned by the foreign spouse.

This legal opinion was issued by the Justice Department upon query from the Department of Foreign Affairs in reference to a case of a Filipina who wanted to change her married name to that of her second husband. The concerned Filipina was first married to an American in Pampanga. She petitioned for and obtained a divorce decree in California, then married another American in Guam.

Since it was the Filipino wife who initiated the divorce , the Justice Department stated that her situation is outside the ambit of the Family Code. Thus, for all intents and purposes, the initial marriage still subsists, and as the decree of absolute divorce which she obtained is not valid in the Philippines, she may not change her married name to that of her second husband.

• How do I bring my children to Switzerland?

In order for a Filipino citizen to enter Switzerland, he/she must be holding a valid Swiss visa. To be issued one, the applicant must meet all the documentary requirements of the Swiss Embassy in Manila, with office address at 14th Floor, Equitable Bank Tower, 8751 Paseo de Roxas, Makati City, Metro Manila, P.O. Box 2068, MCPO 1260 Makati City, Tel +63(2) 757 9000 Fax +63 (2) 757 3718 Website: http://www.eda.admin.ch/manila_emb/e/home.html Email: vertretung@man.rep.admin.ch.

• What are the documentary requirements in applying for Swiss visas for dependent spouse and children of Filipinos?

Based on the information sheet prepared by the Swiss Embassy in Manila, listed below are the Guidelines for the Issuance of Swiss Visitors Visa (tourist visa sponsored by a relative/friend). Aside from these requirements, the Swiss Consular Officer may require additional documents to be presented:

A. General Conditions/Requirements:

1. One application form, duly completed and signed by the applicant 2. One passport -size photograph 3. Passport with validity of at least three months beyond the planned stay in Switzerland 4. Personal appearance by the applicant 5. Computer printout of air travel reservation 6. International Travel Insurance ( accident and medical) 7. Detailed itinerary of trip 8. Valid onward European visa(s) based on confirmed itinerary 9. Income Tax Return ( ITR), original and photocopy 10. Bank deposit certification 11. Certificate of employment or business registration 12. Hotel reservation ( if applicable) 13. International Credit card with latest statement

B. Additional requirements

1. An appointment has to be made 2. An additional questionnaire 3. Birth certificate, marriage certificate, birth certificates of applicants children under 18 years 4. Letters of employment 5. Bank statements 6. Income Tax Returns or any other documentary evidence that might strengthen applicants chance(s) 7. Declaration Guarantee

Moreover, the Swiss Embassy in Manila in the same information sheet, stressed that compliance with the aforementioned conditions DOES NOT guarantee the issuance of a visa, especially, if you are a first time traveler to Europe. Visa applications are decided on a case-by-case basis. Misrepresentations or fraud at any stage of the process will automatically disqualify the applicant from obtaining a visa. Visa applications with incomplete requirements will not be accepted and visa applications are accepted on an appointment basis.

Please consult their website www.eda.admin.ch/manila_emb/e/home.html for their latest requirements.

• What documents do I need from the Philippine Embassy to apply for a Philippine passport for my dependents in the Philippines?

You should execute an Affidavit of Support and Consent to Travel and a Special Power of Attorney, duly notarized by the Philippine Embassy, authorizing your representative in the Philippines to apply for your dependents passport with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Manila. You must also secure an Exit Clearance for minor children from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to travel from the Philippines to Switzerland. The affidavit form is available at the consular Section of the Philippine Embassy.

• What requirements do I need to submit/present when applying for the replacement of an expired passport?

1.    Personal appearance of applicant is required for biometrics. Applicants
       are requested to call the Embassy (031 350 1717) to set an appointment.
       One hour per applicant, please inform the Embassy how many are applying.
2.    Duly accomplished ePassport application form.
3.    Latest Original Philippine Passport and Copy of Philippine passport
       personal data page.
4.    Copy of Residence Permit (Bewilligung) or Swiss Passport.
5.    Self addressed envelope with CHF6.00 stamp, (Registered) to be used in
       returning the processed documents.
6.    ePassport Application fee CHF 60.00. (If possible, please bring exact
       amount)

Applicants who are 18 years old and above with dual or multi citizenship who have not taken an Oath of Allegiance are requested to do so (Please submit additional 2 copies of Philippine and Foreign Passports, 4 passport size photos, 2 copies of birth certificate of each dependent who are below 18 years old, and fee CHF50.00 and additional CHF25.00 for each dependent who are below 18 years old).

• What documents do I need to present or submit when applying for a replacement of a lost/destroyed/ tampered passport?

These are the requirements:

  1. Personal appearance of applicant is required for biometrics. Applicants
    are requested to call the Embassy (031 350 1717) to set an appointment..
  2. Affidavit of Loss narrating the circumstances of loss or damage to be executed at the Embassy.      Fee is CHF 25.00
  3. Two copies of Police report, in case of lost passport.
  4. Duly accomplished ePassport application form.
  5. Copy of lost Philippine passport personal data page. If passport is issued before 1990, or pertinent  information will be difficult to obtain, applicants must submit NSO Birth Certificate authenticated by  DFA in the Philippines and secondary identification and other supporting documents as may be  required by the Consular Officer.
  6. Four passport size pictures taken within the last 6 months for applicants with dual/multi citizenshipswho are required to take the Oath of Allegiance..
  7. Copy of Residence Permit (Bewilligung) or Swiss Passport.
  8. Self addressed envelope with CHF6.00 stamp, (Registered) to be used in returning the processed  documents.
  9. Application fee CHF 90.00 (If possible, please bring exact amount)
Fees:
CHF 25.50 - Sworn Statement of lost passport

• What documents do I need to present or submit when applying for amendment of passport?

These are the requirements:

  1. Personal appearance
  2. Duly accomplished application for amendment of passport
  3. Current Philippine passport
  4. For change of name to reflect married name:
    1. If married in the Philippines, one copy of the Marriage Contract authenticated by the Office of the Civil Registrar General
    2. If married in Switzerland, one copy of Marriage Contract

• I am a foreigner and I intend to visit the Philippines for tourism/business purposes, do I need to obtain a visa to enter the Philippines? If yes, what requirements do I need to submit?

Temporary Visitors (tourist or businessmen) without need of a visa

Citizens of Switzerland and Liechtenstein, as well as those other countries who wish to visit the Philippines could be admitted into the country without the need of securing a visa abroad, if their stay in the Philippines is not more than 30 days. They must be holders of a valid passport and have confirmed reservations for their return travel or onward travel to another country.

Tourist who avail of the 30-day-no visa requirement may be granted an extension of stay by the Bureau of Immigration in the Philippines, subject to payment of applicable extension fees and other fees as may be charged by the Bureau.

Visitors who need a Visa

Visitors not covered by the above and those who intend to stay in the Philippines beyond 30 days are required to obtain a temporary visitors visa for pleasure or business.

Stateless persons issued a travel document by the Swiss government must secure a visa. They must present their Swiss Residence Permit and Travel Document together with other requirements listed below. These two documents should have a validity of at least 6 months.

Requirements for a 9(a) visa

  1. Passport which is valid for 6 months
  2. One (1) photograph ( size 45mm X 35 mm) signed at the back
  3. One (1) duly accomplished visa application form (FA Form No.2-A) (Click here to download)
  4. Photocopy of airline ticket with portion indicating onward travel or a travel confirmation from the travel agency
  5. Self-addressed envelope with Sfr.5.00 (registered) postal stamp for the return of the passport
  6. Fees:
    CHF 30.00 - for a single entry (valid for entry within 3 months from date of issuance)
    CHF 60.00- for a multiple entry (valid for multiple entry within 6 months from date of issuance)
    90.00  for a multiple entry (valid for multiple entry within one year from date of issuance)
    Stamps and personal checks are not accepted as payment. If cash is sent by mail, the Embassy will not be responsible for any loss and no complaints will be entertained.
  7. For visitors traveling for purposes of business, business letter from the company sponsoring the trip
  8. For foreign residents in Switzerland, copy of Swiss Resident Permit

• Who can apply for a student visa? What are the steps in applying for a student visa?

Pursuant to E.O. No. 285 dated 04 September 2000, foreigners who are at least 18 years old at the time of enrolment and have sufficient means for their education and support for study for the purpose of taking up a course higher than high school may apply for a student visa. The educational institution where the applicant intends to enrol must be duly authorized to admit foreign students.

Step 1. Application with the Preferred School

Communicate directly with the school of choice and comply with their requirements which includes:

  1. Five (5) copies of Duly Signed and accomplished Personal History Statements (PHS) with 2 X 2 photograph.
  2. Notarized affidavit of support including bank statements to cover all expenses of the student.
  3. Scholastic records duly authenticated by the Philippine embassy/consulate located in student's country of origin or legal residence.
  4. Photocopy of data page of student's passport showing date and place of birth.
  5. Birth certificate or its equivalent duly authenticated by the Philippine embassy/consulate located in student's country of origin.

Step 2. Acceptance by School - School upon satisfaction of compliance of requirements issues Notice of Acceptance (NOA) to student and submits the duplicate copy to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), together with the certified true copy of CHED-CEA when necessary. For quota courses such as medicine and dentistry, a certificate of eligibility for admission (CEA) is also issued by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

Step 3. Department of Foreign Affairs indorses documents to the foreign service post (FSP) located in the student's country of origin/place of legal residence for the issuance of the student visa.

Step 4. The Philippine Embassy or Consulate notifies the student in writing to appear in person and bring all the required documents.

Step 5. Upon receiving the letter from the Philippine Embassy/Consulate, the student makes an appointment to appear for an interview at the consulate or embassy. Please bring the following documents:

  1. Valid Passport
  2. Application Form for Student Visa (accomplished in triplicate)
  3. Three photographs
  4. Medical Health Certificate (DFA Form 11) in triplicate with life-size chest x-ray and   laboratory reports
  5. Original Notice of Acceptance (NOA) and when appropriate, the CEA
  6. Police Clearance Certificate authenticated by the Philippine Embassy/Consulate located in student's country of origin or legal residence
  7. Visa Fee of SFr 425.

• Can I convert my tourist visa to a student visa?

Yes, foreigners who are already in the Philippines under any valid visa arrangement may apply for the conversion of their visa status to 9(f) student visa provided they submit the following:

Original Notice of Acceptance (NOA) and when appropriate, the CEA. Proof of adequate financial support. Scholastic records duly authenticated by the Philippine Embassy/Consulate located in student's country of origin or legal residence. National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Clearance (if student resided in the Philippines for more than 59 days) Quarantine Medical Examination by the National Quarantine Office. Copy of Duly signed and accomplished Personal History Statements (PHS) with 2 x 2 photograph. Photocopy of data page of student's passport showing date and place of birth.

Fees: Application fee P2,000; Express lane fee P500; Conversion fee P1,000; Visa fee P1,000; and Legal Research Fee P40.

• I am an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). How do I benefit from the OFW Medicare program that used to be under Overseas Workers' Welfare Administration (OWWA) but has now been transferred to PhilHealth?

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 392 on 28 December 2004 transferring the OFW Medicare from OWWA to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and integrating it into the National Health Insurance Program. For more details on this transfer, please visit the FAQS on OFW Medicare (English) or Katanungan sa OFW Medicare (Pilipino).

 

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