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5 Things We Know About the Philippines Digital Nomad Visa

August 28, 2023

In June 2023, the Philippines made waves in the world of remote work by announcing a game-changing initiative: the Philippines digital nomad visa. This visa, introduced under the Digital Nomad Act, is designed to entice digital nomads from around the globe. As an employer, the visa presents an opportunity for your remote employees to make the Southeast Asian nation their home for an extended period.

What is a Digital Nomad Visa?

A digital nomad visa is a type of visa or residency permit that grants people the privilege to live and work remotely in a foreign country for an extended period. This concept has grown in popularity in recent years, fueled by the global rise of remote work and the increasing capacity of professionals to perform their duties online from anywhere on the planet.

Digital nomad visas are typically aimed at attracting various groups of professionals, including freelancers, entrepreneurs, and other remote workers, with the goal of integrating their skills and economic contributions into the host country's economy. These visas provide a legal framework for individuals to reside in a foreign nation while working for companies based elsewhere or operating their own online businesses.

Key features of digital nomad visas commonly include:

  • Long stay: Digital nomad visas often allow people to stay in the host country for several months to a year or more, depending on the specific visa requirements.
  • Remote work: Visa holders are permitted to engage in remote work for their current employer or their own business while residing in the host country.
  • Income and taxes: Some digital nomad visa programs may require individuals to demonstrate a certain income level, prove financial stability, or comply with specific tax regulations.
  • Application process: The application process and requirements for obtaining a digital nomad visa can vary significantly from country to country, but they usually have particular eligibility criteria, application fees, and mandatory documentation.
  • Duration and renewal: Digital nomad visas may be initially issued for a fixed period, with the possibility of renewal if the visa holder continues to meet the stipulated requirements.
  • No local employment: In most cases, digital nomad visas prohibit visa holders from seeking local employment in the host country, as the visa's primary purpose is to attract individuals who are working remotely for foreign entities.

Several countries worldwide, including the Philippines, have recognized the potential benefits of welcoming digital nomads into their countries, including fostering cultural exchange and increasing spending in local economies.

With a proposed initial term of 12 months, extendable for an additional year, the Philippines digital nomad visa paves the way for digital nomads to immerse themselves in the Philippines' vibrant culture, landscapes, and communities while working remotely. Here are the five things we know about this development so far.

5 Requirements We Know About the Philippines Digital Nomad Visa

While the Philippines' Digital Nomad Visa is generating excitement, it's essential to understand that as of now, the details of this program are still being mapped out. Nevertheless, here are the requirements that have been revealed so far:

  • Valid passport: Applicants must possess a valid passport at the time of applying.
  • Working remotely: To qualify for this visa, individuals must engage in remote work as an employee, freelancer, or business owner for a company or clients located outside of the Philippines.
  • Minimum income requirement: While the exact income requirement has yet to be specified, applicants will need to meet a minimum income threshold.
  • Health insurance coverage: It's mandatory to have an international health insurance policy with coverage in the Philippines throughout a digital nomad’s stay.
  • Clean criminal record: Applicants must have a clean criminal record.

Preparing for Life as a Digital Nomad in the Philippines

The Philippines has increasingly become a favored destination for digital nomads, thanks to its compelling advantages such as an affordable cost of living, natural beauty, and burgeoning digital infrastructure. Let's explore some key factors that can influence an employee’s experience as a digital nomad in the Philippines:

  • Cost of living: The Philippines is renowned for its relatively low cost of living compared to many Western countries. Expenses related to accommodation, food, transportation, and entertainment are generally affordable, particularly outside of major urban hubs like Manila and Makati.
  • Internet connectivity: While internet connectivity has improved steadily over the years, it can still vary in quality. Larger cities and popular tourist destinations typically offer reliable and fast internet connections. However, in more remote or rural areas, digital nomads might encounter slower or less stable internet. Per recent internet speed rankings from Wisevoter, the average internet speed in the Philippines is 132.36 Mbps.
  • Co-working spaces: Many cities in the Philippines, especially those frequented by digital nomads, provide co-working spaces. These hubs offer a professional environment equipped with reliable internet, networking opportunities, and a chance to connect with fellow remote workers.
  • Cultural experience: The Philippines is celebrated for its beautiful landscapes, including pristine beaches, idyllic islands, and lush mountains. Additionally, the country's rich cultural heritage provides a unique and immersive experience for digital nomads eager to explore local traditions and customs.
  • Language: English is widely spoken in the Philippines, simplifying communication for English-speaking digital nomads as they navigate daily life and conduct business.
  • Safety: The Philippines offers great experiences, but it's crucial to stay informed about safety conditions in specific areas as some regions may be susceptible to natural disasters or security concerns.
  • Healthcare: Healthcare facilities can vary in quality across different regions of the Philippines. Major cities typically offer modern medical facilities, while remote areas may have limited access to quality healthcare.
  • Time zone: The Philippines operates on the Philippine Time Zone (PHT), which employees must consider if their work necessitates coordination with clients or teams in other parts of the world.

Keep in mind that conditions can change, so it's advisable for digital nomads to conduct thorough research and gather current information before making travel plans. Online forums, expat groups, and digital nomad communities can serve as invaluable resources for insights from individuals who have recently experienced life and work in the Philippines.

Gear Up for Your Team’s Success in the Philippines

As the Philippines emerges as an enticing destination for digital nomads, it's essential to recognize that this is an evolving landscape in terms of infrastructure, legal provisions, and technology. Setting your team members up for success in this vibrant nation can be greatly facilitated through collaboration with a competent employer of record (EOR).

An Employer of Record, such as Remofirst, can handle essential administrative tasks, onboarding, people operations, and payroll for remote employees from around the world. This partnership allows startup leaders and remote workers to focus on their core responsibilities without worrying about geographical boundaries.

Some of the benefits of partnering with Remofirst as your EOR include:

  • Low cost: With EOR services starting from as little as $199 per person per month, Remofirst provides cost-effective solutions to streamline your remote workforce management.
  • Equipment delivery: Remofirst will ensure that your remote employees have the necessary equipment to perform their jobs effectively, all without any extra costs.
  • Round-the-clock customer support: Customer service is available 24/7, ensuring that your workforce can function seamlessly across time zones. Furthermore, Remofirst provides a dedicated account manager who is always available to assist you and your team, including with visa applications.

Be sure to check out our Philippines Country Guide for a more in-depth look at how Remofirst can help you manage employees in the Philippines. This guide will give you in-depth insights into the nuances of working with employees in the Philippines and will equip you with the knowledge you need to provide a positive digital nomad experience for your team.