Top of main content

Moving to the Philippines

Your guide to expat life in the Philippines, the growth engine of Southeast Asia

Want to move to the Philippines?

With its tropical climate and steadily growing economy, the Philippines is quickly becoming one of the most popular expat destinations in Southeast Asia. This extensive archipelago of more than 7,000 islands has long attracted immigrants from as far afield as Spain, America and Australia. Expats moving to the Philippines today can expect to find a multicultural country influenced as much by the West as it is by the East.

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. If you’re feeling homesick, there are some well-established expat communities on hand to support you.

Basic info about the Philippines

  • Population: 111 million
  • Capital city: Manila
  • Largest city: Quezon City
  • Main languages: Filipino and English
  • Main religion: Roman Catholic. 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

Weather in the Philippines

The Philippines has a tropical marine climate with a rainy season and a dry season.

The summer monsoon brings heavy rain to most of the country from May to October, while the winter monsoon brings cooler, drier weather from December to February.

The hottest months are April and May, although there’s little variation in temperature all year round. Manila and most of the lowland areas are hot and dusty from March to May when temperatures can rise to around 37°C (99°F).

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

Shipping to the Philippines

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.

Import duties

You can import most goods duty free as long as you’ve owned them for at least 6 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.


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 can’t be brought into the country.

Top tips for the Philippines

See what people responding to our Expat Explorer Survey think about living in the Philippines.

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.
Look beneath the American cultural veneer and see the complexity of the culture that mixes the pre-Hispanic Filipino culture with Chinese, Spanish and American influences.

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

All other content is provided by, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in September 2021. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information is purely for orientation and to inspire further research, it does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Always remember to ensure you're aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.

You might also be interested in


Opening an offshore account, can be an effective way to save, invest and manage money while abroad.


Steps to build a better financial future abroad.


Read our 10-step guide to moving abroad to make sure you've got everything covered.

Listening to what you have to say about services matters to us. It's easy to share your ideas, stay informed and join the conversation.