Your guide to expat life in Philippines

Moving to the Philippines

Most expats who move to the Philippines live in Manila, and many find it easy to adjust to life in this bustling modern city with its blend of Western influences and traditional charm.

Wherever you move to, the warmth of the locals will help you settle into your new home. Filipinos are very welcoming towards expats, and they’ll guide you through their customs and traditions. It may take a while to get used to local practices such as eating with your hands. And the crowded public spaces in urban areas can be overwhelming at times. But if you’re feeling homesick, there are some well-established expat communities on hand to support you.

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Basic info

  • Population: 107 million
  • Capital city: Manila
  • Largest city: Quezon City
  • Main languages: Filipino and English
  • Main religion: Catholicism. Other religions include Islam.
  • Political system: Unitary presidential constitutional republic
  • Time: GMT+8
  • Electricity: 220V, 60Hz. Standard plugs have two flat pins, but three-pin plugs are also used.
  • Currency: Philippine peso (PHP)
  • International dialling code: +63
  • Internet domain: .ph
  • Emergency numbers: 911 or 117
  • Road traffic: Drives on the right

Next holiday

Nov

01

All Saints' Day

Public Holidays

2020
1 January New Year's Day
25 February People Power Day
9 April Valour Day
10 April Good Friday
12 April Easter Sunday
1 May Labour Day
12 June Independence Day
31 August National Heroes Day
1 November All Saints' Day
30 November Bonifacio Day
25 December Christmas Day
30 December Rizal Day
31 December New Year's Eve
2021
1 January New Year's Day
25 February People Power Day
2 April Good Friday
4 April Easter Sunday
9 April Valour Day
1 May Labour Day
12 June Independence Day
30 August National Heroes Day
1 November All Saints' Day
30 November Bonifacio Day
25 December Christmas Day
30 December Rizal Day
31 December New Year's Eve

Your relocation checklist

Moving to a new country takes a lot of planning. To help you get started, here are some of the things you need to do before you leave home – or just after you arrive.

Key phrases in Filipino

  • Hello Kumusta
  • Good evening Magandáng gabi
  • Goodbye Paalam
  • How are you? Kamusta ka?
  • Thank you Salamat
  • Yes
  • No Hindi
  • Do you speak English? Marunong ba kayong mag-Ingglés?
  • Can you help me? Maaari n'yo po ba akong tulungan?
  • I'm sorry Pasensya na

Top tips

View a selection of tips sourced from expats about Philippines:

“Research the culture well and ensure you have adequate local support from your employer.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“Philippines is a wonderful place to stay. Keep your 'ID' card always with you. Transport of your own is a must. Let it be your first priority. Always keep some cash at home.” Added by SV

“Go: if you want to learn about culture, people and the country. Do not go: for the money! You will be disappointed at some point, working only for money is not an option - love what you do!” Added by NICOLE DOMINIQUE LE MAIRE

“Find new friends, new experiences, new challenges, experience a different culture, enjoy more money and travel to other places.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“It's financially rewarding with improved healthcare, improved schooling for children, more international holidays, much lower cost of living, better housing, shorter travel to work, better safety.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

View more hints and tips for Philippines

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It's financially rewarding with improved healthcare, improved schooling for children, more international holidays, much lower cost of living, better housing, shorter travel to work, better safety.

Expat Explorer Survey respondent

View more hints and tips for Philippines

Shipping

You can ship goods to the Philippines by air or sea. Air freight is quicker, but it’s usually much cheaper to send your belongings by sea. Shipments must arrive within 60 days of your arrival and are subject to inspection. An international removals company can advise you on the latest customs regulations.

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Import duties

You can import most goods duty free as long as you’ve owned them for at least six months and have no intention of selling them. Only returning residents and diplomats can import cars duty free – all other new and used vehicles are subject to high taxes.

Banned items

Items banned from import into the Philippines include firearms and ungraded gold and silver. It’s also illegal to import right-hand-drive cars.

Pets

If you want to take a pet to the Philippines, you’ll have to apply for a permit through the Bureau of Animal Industry in Manila. You’ll also have to supply valid health certificates and up-to-date vaccination records. Birds of any kind aren’t allowed into the country.

All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by expatarrivals.com, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in October 2020. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Islamic holidays are subject to sightings of the moon – so dates can change on the Gregorian calendar.

Open an Expat Bank Account with HSBC Expat. Find out more
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