Whether you need a visa to visit the Philippines depends on your reason for going there and how long you plan to stay. There are also other factors that affect your need for a visa, such as your marital status. For example, being married to a Filipino citizen allows you to apply for certain visa types you would not qualify for otherwise.

Short Visits

U.S. citizens can travel to the Philippines for up to 21 days without need for a visa. If the visit will be shorter, they can simply get an entry stamp when they arrive at the airport in the Philippines. In order to receive a 21-day entry stamp, the passport must be valid for at least three months -- but preferably six -- from the planned date of exit. This free entry applies both to tourist and business visas that last less than 21 days.

Long Visits

For U.S. citizens who wish to stay in the Philippines for longer than 21 days, a visa must be arranged in advance. In order to obtain a long tourist visa, you will have to present a copy of your return ticket, hotel reservations, a bank statement showing you have sufficient funds to finance your trip and an invitation letter from friends or family members living in the Philippines. If you’re applying for a business visa, you will need a letter from your employer or sponsor. There’s a fee for a visa obtained in advance. At the time of publication, U.S. citizens were required to pay $30 for a single entry visa valid for three months and $90 for a multiple-entry visa valid for 12 months.

Immigrant Visas

Immigrant visas are reserved for people married to Filipino citizens and their children under 21 years of age. In order to get an immigrant visa, a U.S. citizen will have to pass a medical examination that includes a chest x-ray, present a Police Clearance Certificate and appear for an in-person interview. You will also need to show proof of marriage to a Philippine citizen or proof that one of your parents is a Philippine citizen. The citizen must show a birth certificate or passport in order to prove citizenship. There’s also a requirement to show financial sufficiency in the form of a bank account, property or pension. You will also have to pay a fee in order to get the visa. At the time of publication, the fee was $150.

Other Visa Types

Special visas are available for seamen working on a Filipino-bound boat, for foreign government officials and for certain students. Requirements vary widely depending on the type of visa, the length of the visit and the age of the traveler. Since these are special visas, you should consult with an embassy representative to find out what paperwork you need.

All visas, including long stay visas, immigrant visas, seamen, foreign government officials and student visas require presenting a passport that's valid for at least six months, as well as color photos in a 2-inch by 2-inch size, with a front view of the face. Blurry photos, photos showing the applicant wearing sleeveless clothing or photos older than six months are not acceptable. Most types of visa require only one photo. Immigrant visas require four copies.