Process of Getting ACR-I Card

Today we got a comment and question from Randall.

This is what Randall had to say:

Hi Bob,

I’m currently in the Philippines going through the process of getting
my ACR-I Card in at the Cebu BI. I applied for the 13a Visa at the
Consulate in Toronto, Canada.

49 Ways to make a living

They told me it was good for one year and that I had to move to the Philippines
within the one year otherwise I would have to start all over from the beginning. Well I arrived 6 months after they issued the Visa to
me in Canada. BI in Cebu then sent me to the Department of Quarantine. There they told me that
all my supporting medical records expire after 6 months but fortunately I was
just in time! The BI approved my Visa application once the Department of Quarantine stamped my passport. They said it takes 2 months to process the ACR Card as everything
has to go through Manila.

Process of Getting ACR-I Card


This is Bob’s reply:

That’s good information Randall, thank you for sharing with our readers.



  1. Gary says

    Two months is the same time frame for Davao City also. It seems that no matter where you are it takes two months to get the ACR-I card.

  2. JimM says

    On a semi-related topic, now that I have my permanent ACR-I card I’m wondering why I bothered. I just left the PI to come back to the US for a month or two, and at the Manila airport I was greeted with a separate line for ACR-I card holders. With it was the requirement to pay 2,880 pesos (around $70 USD) for the privilege of being a cardholder. Yikes. And those without cards didn’t have to pay that.

    I realize the card allows you to get a bank account, but someone please remind me…why else do I need the card? Thanks.

    • says

      Well, JimM, I suppose one of the reasons to bother is because the law says that if you are in the Philippines for more than 59 days, you must have an I-Card. It’s not a choice.

  3. JimM says


    Thanks. Now I can give my wife a good reason why I had to pay the $70 while she and everyone else zipped thru without paying it.

    So even if you enter with a BB Visa, you need the ACR-I card. I thought it was somehow tied to the 13A and related Visas…

    • says

      Oops, you caught me in a mistake there, Jim! You do not need to get an I-Card on a Balikbayan Visa, but you do on other types of Visas. Sorry for my error, I didn’t realize you were traveling on a Balikbayan Visa.

  4. JimM says

    Actually I was on a 13A, but as I was standing in the ACR-I card line my wife was scratching her head as she waited for me, wondering why I bothered with all this 13A and ACR nonsense, why not just use the BB Visa and save a lot of headaches. And I really don’t have a good answer for her. Especially now that I (we) have to go back to convert my 1 year 13A visa to permanent this year.

  5. mike henebry says

    My wife and I agree 100% with your wife. For most folks married to a Philippine citizen and planning to leave at least once per year anyway, there probably is need for any visa other than the automatic, no-cost, Balikbayan visa. True, you cannot open a bank account either on your own or even a joint account with your wife, but I do all the internet banking and money transfers on my wife’s BDO account, even add loads to our cell phone and Globe Smartsick, and use her ATM card to get cash. I do not need to either have my name on the account or deal with bank tellers to get my banking done, just as I do not need to in the US.

    • says

      Hi Mike – I agree, for many people a Balikbayan Visa is a good route. Cheap and easy. For me, though, a resident visa is the right fit. I have been here for 12 years now on my 13(g) visa, and have never left the country. I could not do that on a Balikbayan. 😆

      • Freddy Estacion says

        Bob, how did you able to obtain a 13g visa? I thought 13g visa is only for those natural born Filipinos who became a naturalized US citizen?

        • says

          Freddy, you are only half right. The 13g is for former Philippine citizens AND THEIR SPOUSES AND CHILDREN. Since my wife was a former Philippine citizen at the time of my application, I was eligible for a 13g visa.

          • Freddy Estacion says

            Thanks Bob, it makes a lot of sense. Glad to see someone like you helping others who are going through the process of acquiring their permanent residency. Are you a veteran?

  6. Vicky says

    I plan on getting an ACR-I card in a couple of weeks because I have an extended tourist visa (stay over 59 days)..I was wondering if I’ll be given a drug test at all at the quarantine?? Will I be having to go to quarantine?? If anyone has any time..please let me know a.s.a.p.
    Thanks in advance!

    • says

      Hello Vicky – I have never heard of drug testing being used for an ACR I-Card application. I suppose it could happen, but would be new to me. Also, there is no requirement to go to the Bureau of Quarantine.

      • americo says

        Hi Jim Greetings

        Im currently looking for info on applying for ACR I card.

        What is the process I am married here but often come for 1 month when on holiday.

        I live in tagum city davao region please as there a posibilty for some info.



  7. Mark Konopik says

    I am visiting the Philippines next month. My g13 card is expired by acouple years. Will I get hassled at Mactan Airport or let them know I will go to BI and renew it?

    • says

      Hi Mark – I am not sure I understand what you are talking about. There is no such thing as a “G13” card. There is a “13g” Visa, but it is not a card, but is not for visitors, bur for permanent residents. Could you clarify?

      • Mark Konopik says

        Sorry Bob. Married to a dual citizen philipina/USA citizen. We moved to Camotes Island in 2007. Was issued my Sec 13G in Cebu city at 04/29/2008, stayed acouple years and then went back to the States to work. Card expired in 04/29/2013. Flying to Cebu, May 7, 2014. Afraid of hassle at Mactan airport upon entering country. See that I can enter for 30 days; extend for another 29 days; and then by 2 months at a time. I wonder if I should go through the hassle of reapplying for my Sec 13G, or go with a 9A? That is my question. Thank you for your sevice helping us that are confused by the Philippine Immigration rules. Mark.

        • says

          Hi Mark – It is important to remember that an ACR card is not a visa. It is only an ID card. The fact that an ACR card expires after 5 years has no bearing on your visa. For example, my ACR expired last year, but my visa is still good. You have/had a 13G visa. 13 Series resident visas are good for life. They never expire. The ID card, the ACR card expires every 5 years but does not affect your visa.

          Now, given the length of time that you have been away from the country, your 13G may have been canceled, but the only way for you to know is to check with the Bureau of Immigration.

          • Freddy Estacion says

            If I understand it correctly, my 13g non-quota immigrant visa expires one year from the date of issue (issued at Philippine Embassy in Washington DC) and so I was advised to return to the Philippines to use it before the one year period ends. Consequently, I used my 13g visa upon my return to the Philippines last month, I acquired the immigrant status permanently and it is valid for life unless I voluntarily surrender it when I depart the Philippines for good. In a sense, it is similar to when I first came to the United States and earned my “green card” as a permanent resident. I was able to maintain the permanent resident status as long as I want until I decided to become a naturalized citizen.

          • Freddy Estacion says


            If the ACR I-card expires 5 years from the date of issue, why did the Bureau of Immigration told me to come back before the year end to renew it? Additionally, I was told to pay $50 or peso equivalent for renewal fee, is this correct?


          • says

            It depends on what type of visa you have, Freddy. If your visa is a tourist visa, or if it is a probationary 13 series resident visa, then it is only good for 1 year.

            $50 is the correct price for the renewal of an ACR card.

          • Freddy Estacion says

            I have a 13g non-quota immigrant visa issued by the Philippine Embassy at Washington DC. Upon arrival to the Philippines, I visited the BI to avail of the ACR I-Card, paid $50, and was told to come back in 2 weeks to pick-up the ACR I-Card.

          • Ferdinand Estacion says


            Kindly answer my previous question. “If the ACR I-card expires 5 years from the date of issue, why did the Bureau of Immigration told me to come back before the year end to renew it? (I have a 13g non-quota immigrant visa issued by the Philippine Embassy at Washington DC.)”


          • says

            My answer is that I dont have any idea why they would tell you such a thing. I would guess that they did not exactly say that but you misunderstood what they actually told you.

  8. john henry says

    Hi Bob i read your mag and blogs most days and it keeps me very much up to date with things in the Philippines. keep up the good work. i will be flying back out again to see my in laws with the wife and kids in a few weeks time, and i heard that you no longer pay departure tax in the airport anymore is that right? there was something about it being paid in your air ticket is that correct?
    It`s been 6 years since we were last in the Philippines, so i am looking forward to it.
    I do hope you and your family are all keeping well.
    Bye for now and God bless

    John (Ireland)

    • says

      Hi John. No, I am sorry, that is not correct. You no longer have to pay terminal fees, they are included with your ticket. But departure tax, which is paid only by philippine citizens and foreigners who have been here more than a year must still be paid.

  9. says

    I am a filipina my fiancee was new Zealand,he was planning to visit me on June first,I was trying to get an ACR for him how we gonna start,the requirements,fee,how long the processing, where we going to apply?
    He will be staying here in manila for 3-4months, and planning to get a joint acvount as well but most bank need his ACR,hope you can guide us please.
    I had read your blog and I reckon its a huge help to everyone.
    Thank you so much!!!!!


    • says

      Your boyfriend does not qualify for getting an ACR I-Card until he has been in the Philippines for a minimum of 59 days. He can apply once he has been here for that amount of time. He cannot get one before that.

      He will apply at the Bureau of Immigration.

  10. Lyrenie says

    I have a questions, foreigner can open account of Bank without the ACR? like BPI
    Thank you.


    • says

      It depends on the policy of the bank and branch. There is no law that says a foreigner must have an ACR card to open a bank account. Most banks, though, do require one in order to open an account.

  11. Peter says

    Hi Bob,

    I was in PH for 3 months between Nov 2014 – Jan 2015 and was required get an ACR card (in Clark) to renew my VISA whilst I was there. They told me it goes to Manila and I would have to pick it up there. My problem is that I had to fly back before it would be ready. I go back in July for three weeks. Will I run in to trouble trying to use a normal tourist visa?


  12. Tsarlot says

    Hi! :) I had renewed my ACR-i in the first week of August. I was expecting the process will be more faster since its just a renewal. But, I’m kinda nervous that it will be more than a month. Geez. Well, I would like to ask how many days did it actually take to get your ACR-i? -___-‘

  13. John says

    Hi Bob, thanks for your posts! You know a great deal. I was in the Philippines for three months (May, June, and July). When I arrived I got the typical 30 day free visa, and then in May I went to the Bureau of Immigration in Makati to extend my visa for 2 more months to last me through the end of July. The good news were that the lines were very short (there were only 4 other people there – it was about 9:30 in the morning), but I had to pay around 9000 pesos total, since in addition to the 2 months extension they also charged me to get an ACR card. After paying the fee and waiting about 20 minutes, the guy came back and had put a shiny sticker in my passport (not a stamp) showing my visa was extended for the 2 extra months, but he said come back in 10 working days to get the actual ACR card.

    Well, I never went back to get the actual card because I was too busy, and I got married to my Filipina wife in July before I returned to the U.S. at the end of July. They didn’t ask to see ACR card at the airport when I left. I just recently came back to the Philippines this week, and when I arrived they didn’t ask to see the ACR card at the airport either. They just gave me a new 30 day free visa stamp like usual (the date on the sticker I got from Makati had obviously expired).

    Since I’m married to a Filipina now, it seems to make most sense to take a weekend trip to Hong Kong or somewhere with her before my visa expires again, so that I can get the 1-year Balikbayan visa instead of having to deal with extensions all the time. I’m a little confused on whether I still need the ACR card or not. I have no need to open a local bank account or apply for any loans or anything, and I already have a lease on a condo unit and have electricity, water, internet, etc. and they never asked to see an ACR card for any of it.

    Do you think the ACR card is still “waiting for me” at the Makati office? Is there any reason I should actually go pick it up at all, since I will just have Balikbayan visas from now on? What will happen if I never pick it up? (It’s kind of a pain to get there from where I live). Do you think they can mail it to me, or can my wife or someone else pick it up for me? When do they actually take the fingerprints (since they never took them when I originally applied and got the visa extension)?

    Thanks again for all your useful info and advice!

    • says

      On a tourist visa you are required to get an ACR I-Card once you are here for 59 days. It is the law. However, for tourist visa holders, the ACR expires the moment you leave the country and must be replaced on the next trip. So, if that ACR is waiting, it is no longer valid.

      The good news for you is that Balikbayan Visa holders are not required to obtain an ACR. So, if you do that quick trip to HK wiht your wife, you will be able to obtain an BB visa and the ACR is not necessary.

      • John says

        Thanks John. I’m a little scared because I’ve been reading that ACR-I Card Holders must present the card and an emigration certificate before leaving the country. (But they never asked for it when I left in August). So I’m not sure if I’m an “ACR-I Card Holder” now or not, since I paid the fees when I got my 2-month extension, but I never picked up the card.

        Also, do you know when they actually do the fingerprinting? Do they do it when you go back to pick up the card?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *