A remote island in the Phillipines, Palawan has a population of 750,000 people spread over an island measuring 270 miles long and 24 miles at its widest point. If you’re interested in moving to a Pacific island with pristine beaches and mountains, Palawan may be your ideal destination. With hot springs and off-shore diving spots combined with a low cost-of-living, Palawan is just beginning to receive enthusiasm from would-be expats. How can you move to Palawan and live there happily? Take the following steps to satisfy visa requirements and prepare yourself for working and living conditions in Palawan.
Apply for a relevant visa to live in Palawan. For Americans, regular passports and tourist visas will only cover a 60-day stay in the Philippines. Seek an immigrant visa from a Philippines embassy or consulate in your home country in order to stay for longer (see Resources). Be warned, however, that the Philippines allows a quota of only 50 immigrant visas per foreign nation, per year. Beyond that quota, the Philippines offers non-quota immigrant visas to those meeting limiting criteria: marriage to Filipino citizens, returning residents or returning Filipino citizens.
Consider alternative visa types. Depending on your living situation, you may qualify for a visa other than the standard immigrant visa. If your business deals in trade or commerce between the U.S. and the Philippines, you may qualify for a Treaty Traders/Investors Visa. If you intend to pursue post-high school education in the Philippines, you may qualify for a Student visa. If you have been extended a work offer from an employer in the Philippines, authorized by the Philippines Department of Work and Labor, you may qualify for a Pre-arranged Employment Visa. If you are over 35 years of age and have sufficient funds, you may qualify for a Special Investor / Retiree's Resident Visa. This Visa requires a deposit of upwards of $50,000. For those over 50 years of age, the deposit is lowered to $20,000 or $10,000 plus a $800 pension.
Apply for an Alien Employment Permit (AEP) at a Philippines embassy or consulate in your home country, if you are applying to reside in the Philippines based on a pre-arranged work offer (see Resources). Complete the AEP application, which must include the employer's authorization, and submit it along with the work contract, a photocopy of the employer's right to operate the business and a photocopy of your own passport.
Apply for an Alien Employment Registration Certificate (AERC) upon acceptance of visas and arrival in the Philippines, should you wish to seek employment. You may apply at the nearest regional office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). The AERC will only be valid for the specific position and employer for which the application is made.
Register with the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines to notify them you are residing in the country. While not legally obligated to do so, by registering with the Embassy you can avail yourself to emergency communications and the Warden email list, which advises Americans to local security threats (See Resources).
Seek relevant vaccinations. Living in the Philippines, you will be exposed to diseases that are far less common in the U.S. While you are at little risk to Malaria in Manila, it is a concern in rural areas, particularly in Palawan. Both mefloquine and doxycycline are advised as prophylactic antimalarials. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccinations against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Rabies and Japanese encephalitis, as well as having all routine vaccinations up-to-date. (Routine vaccinations include MMR, DPT and polio.)
Acquaint yourself with the local hospitals and clinics. Before deciding where in Palawan you will reside, be aware that some regions will be remote from quality medical care. A list of the hospitals, doctors and dentists in Palawan is provided by the U.S. Embassy in Manila (See Resources).
Ensure you have complete health insurance coverage. Check that your insurance will cover you outside of your home country. You may wish to secure additional protection in case you require medevac service, a costly scenario not usually covered by insurers. Medicare does not provide coverage for hospital or medical costs incurred by Americans living abroad.
Take financial precautions. Do not count on access to ATMs throughout Palawan. In case of sudden emergencies, such as theft or loss of funds, the U.S. Embassy can offer limited assistance to Americans. For example, the Embassy can receive wire transfers on behalf of the destitute person from senders in the U.S. In Palawan, major banks are located in capital Puerto Princesa city, several accepting foreign currency deposits and traveler's checks.
Learn Tagalog. While many residents of Puerto Princesa City have a good degree of English, if you plan to live in a more remote area, learning Tagalog can be of great assistance. With five universities and colleges, Puerto Princesa City offers the greatest opportunity for formal instruction, whether through language academies or private instruction.
Keep safety in mind. Palawan has very little crime and little political unrest. Nonetheless, the Philippines regularly experiences political upset, primarily centered in Manila.
- STARFISH ISLAND AT PUERTO PRINCESA PALAWAN image by ladylen from Fotolia.com