1. United States
United States Embassy in Manila: http://manila.usembassy.gov/
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit the Philippines, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Local Embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.
The U.S. Embassy
1201 Roxas Boulevard
Telephone (63) (2) 301-2000
Facsimile: (63) (2) 301-2017
There is a consular agency in Cebu City, which provides limited services to U.S. citizens, but is not authorized to issue passports. If you are requesting service at the consular agency, you should call ahead to verify that the service requested will be available on the day you expect to visit the agency.
U.S. Consular Agency
Ground Level, Waterfront Hotel
Lahug, Cebu City
Telephone: (63)(32) 231-1261
Facsimile: (63)(32) 231-0174
Social Security Administration home page: http://www.ssa.gov/
Federal Benefits: http://manila.usembassy.gov/wwwha013.html
U.S. Embassy Manila hosts the offices of the US Social Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Both offices provide services and manage benefits of qualified applicants and recipients.
Social Security Administration (SSA)
Services provided by Social Security include:
- Taking claims for entitlement to all types of Social Security Benefits. (retirement, survivors, disability, lump sum death)
- Processing applications for new or replacement Social Security cards
- Helping beneficiaries re-establish entitlement
- Processing all post entitlement issues: change of address, direct deposit enrollment, non-receipt of check issues, etc.
- Clearing earnings discrepancies
- Answering Social Security questions
- Handling Medicare enrollments and issues
Phone: (63) (2) 301-2000 extension 9 Fax: (63) (2) 708-9723 & (63)(2) 708-9714
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON COMPREHENSIVE MEDICAL PLANS AVAILABLE TO EXPATS IN THE PHILIPPINES, PLEASE GO TO THE SECTION MARKED “HEALTH INFORMATION” IN THIS SECTION OF THE WEBSITE.
Federal Benefits Services Abroad
Prior to your move abroad you should contact the federal agency (Social Security Administration, Veterans Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board, or Office of Personnel Management) from which you receive a monthly check to report your change of address. This will help you avoid a lost or delayed check. Even if your payments are being sent to a bank, you must provide the federal agency with your new address. You should also contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest your place of residence upon your arrival and advise them of your current address. Each time you move while living abroad, you should notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at least 60 days prior to your move. This will enable the federal agency to update its records so your checks are sent to your new address.
In many countries, you are able to have your monthly checks deposited directly into your account at either a financial institution in the country where you live or a U.S. financial institution. To determine if direct deposit is available in the country where you plan to reside, or to sign up for direct deposit, contact the federal agency from which you receive payment.
If your check does not arrive or you have other questions about your federal benefits, contact a consular officer at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If the consular officer cannot answer your inquiry, he or she will contact the regional federal benefits officer for your area and make inquiries on your behalf.
Further information may also be found on the Department of State website at http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/living/living_1234.html.
If I leave the United States, can I continue to receive benefits?
If you are a United States citizen, you can travel or live in most foreign countries without affecting your eligibility for Social Security benefits.
However, if you reside in Cuba or North Korea, you cannot receive your Social Security benefits because of the U.S. Treasury Department payment restrictions. Also, if you go to any of the following countries you can receive your Social Security benefits only if you meet and agree to certain restricted conditions. These countries are:
- Uzbekistan; and
If you are not a United States citizen, the law requires us to stop your payments after you have been outside the United States for six consecutive calendar months unless you meet one of several exceptions in the law allowing your benefits to continue. Most of these exceptions are based on your country of citizenship, residence or on other conditions.
If you are planning to be outside the United States for six consecutive calendar months or more, you can find out if you can receive your Social Security payment by using the Payments Outside the United States screening tool.
If you work outside the United States, different rules may apply in determining if you can get your benefit checks. Most people who are neither United States residents nor United States citizens will have 25.5 percent of their benefits withheld for federal income tax.
For more information about receiving benefits abroad, we recommend you read: Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States and International Agreements, Payments Outside the United States, and Social Security in Other Countries.
Payments Outside the United States
Payments Abroad Screening Tool
This is a tool to find out if you can continue to receive your Title II Social Security payments if you are outside the United States or are planning to go outside the United States. This tool will help you find out if your retirement, disability, or survivor’s payments will continue indefinitely, stop after six consecutive calendar months, or if certain country specific restrictions apply.
Check here to view who this tool does not apply to along with more information on how to apply for benefits and report changes.
If you have questions about your individual claim and you are in the United States, please call or visit your local Social Security office. If you are outside the United States, see our list of Contacts for Services outside the U.S.
Can foreign beneficiaries use direct deposit?
As a foreign beneficiary, you can use direct deposit as long as the country you live in has an International Direct Deposit agreement with the United States. Visit International Programs to see if your country qualifies.
To sign up for direct deposit or for additional information:
- Submit your direct deposit information when you complete an online application for benefits;
- Contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate; or
- Contact your nearest U.S. Social Security office.
Social Security Administration
P.O. Box 17769
Baltimore, Maryland 21235-7769
We prefer to pay beneficiaries in foreign countries electronically. However, international recipients are not required to receive electronic payments. You do not need to request waiver if you wish to receive a paper check.
For more information and opinions, please consult the following web sites:
AMERICANS ABROAD ON SOCIAL SECURITY: http://americansabroad.org/issues/social-security/
MEDICARE ABROAD: MEDICARE FOR AMERICANS RESIDING ABROAD (courtesy of Americans Abroad Organization): http://americansabroad.org/issues/healthcare/general-information-about-medicare/
MEDICAID NOW ACCESSIBLE, IN VERY LIMITED SCOPE, IN THE PHILIPPINES
Mr. Eric Lachica, the organizer of US MedicarePH, updates us on the current AVAILABLE ACCESS TO MEDICARE in the Philippines through the news articles that are accessible in the ELRAP July newsletter (please click on Updates & Information, then click on Newsletter & Announcements, then click on the July newsletter to review the original articles).
Mr. Lachica has been an integral part of a very active lobby in the United States that has been successful in allowing MEDICARE to be accessed in the Philippines. Although currently available in a very limited capacity, the goal of the exercise is for Medicaid to be available to Americans/Balikbayans living in the Philippines.
Please read the articles for more detailed information. You can directly contact Mr. Lachica with your questions through his e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or through the website: www.USMedicarePH.org.
At the US Embassy Manila: There is no Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office at the Embassy. For more detailed information or assistance, please consult the IRS webpage at www.irs.gov.
Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer
Identification Number (ITIN)
Use newly revised (04/15/03) IRS form W-7 to apply for an ITIN. An ITIN is a nine-digit number issued by the IRS to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security number.
It is the taxpayer’s obligation to send the completed W-7 to the IRS together with the original or certified/notarized copies of documents substantiating the information provided on the form.
Further Instructions are contained on the actual form:
Completed W-7 forms should be mailed to:
Internal Revenue Service, ITIN Operation
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342
or go to Where to file Tax returns for more information.
An Official IRS Site for Americans or Dual Nationals living abroad:
1. U.S. income tax return filing requirement
As a United States citizen, you must file a federal income tax return for any tax year in which your gross income is equal to or greater than the applicable exemption amount and standard deduction. For information about whether you must file a federal income tax return for a particular tax year, including exemption amounts and standard deductions, see Publication 501 (Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information) for that year. Generally, you are required to report your worldwide income on your federal income tax return. This means that you should report all income, regardless of which country is the source of the income. Generally, you only need to file returns going back six years.
U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad
If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, the rules for filing income, estate, and gift tax returns and paying estimated tax are generally the same whether you are in the United States or abroad. Your worldwide income is subject to U.S. income tax, regardless of where you reside.
When to File
If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien residing overseas, or are in the military on duty outside the U.S., on the regular due date of your return, you are allowed an automatic 2-month extension to file your return and pay any amount due without requesting an extension. For a calendar year return, the automatic 2-month extension is to June 15.
If you are unable to file your return by the automatic 2-month extension date, you can request an additional extension to October 15 by filing Form 4868 before the automatic 2-month extension date. However, any tax due payments made after June 15 will be subject to both interest charges and failure to pay penalties.
Where to File
If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien (Green Card Holder) and you live in a foreign country, mail your U.S. tax return to:
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215
Estimated tax payments should be mailed with form 1040-ES to:
Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 1300
Charlotte, NC 28201-1300
Taxpayers with an AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) of $57,000 or less can electronically file their tax return for free using freefile. Taxpayers with an AGI greater than $57,000 can either use the Free File Fillable Forms or efile by purchasing commercial software. A limited number of companies provide software that can accommodate foreign addresses. To determine which will work best for you, get help choosing a software provider.
Taxpayer Identification Number
Each taxpayer who files, or is claimed as a dependent on, a U.S. tax return will need a social security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). To obtain a SSN, use form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. To get form SS-5, or to find out if you are eligible for a social security card, contact a Social Security Office or visit Social Security International Operations. If you, or your spouse, are not eligible for a SSN, you can obtain an ITIN by filing form W-7 along with appropriate documentation.
You must express the amounts you report on your U.S. tax return in U.S. dollars. If you receive all or part of your income or pay some or all of your expenses in foreign currency, you must translate the foreign currency into U.S. dollars. Taxpayers generally use the yearly average exchange rate to report foreign-earned income that was received regularly throughout the year. However, if you had foreign transactions on specific days, you may also use the exchange rates for those days. Exchange rates can be found at Foreign Currency and Currency Exchange Rates. Yearly average currency exchange rates for most countries can be found at Yearly Average Currency Exchange Rates.
How to Get Tax Help
The IRS Office in Philadelphia provides international tax assistance. This office is open Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST and can be contacted by:
- Phone: 1 (267) 941-1000 (not toll-free)
- FAX:1 (267) 941-1055
- Email: Email the IRS
(e-mail is for general tax questions; NOT questions regarding your tax account)
- Mail: Internal Revenue Service
Philadelphia, Pa 19255-0725
Foreign Earned Income Exclusion
- If you meet certain requirements, you may qualify for the foreign earned income and foreign housing exclusions and the foreign housing deduction.
- If you are a U.S. citizen or a resident alien of the United States and you live abroad, you are taxed on your worldwide income. However, you may qualify to exclude from income up to an amount of your foreign earnings that is now adjusted for inflation ($91,400 for 2009, $91,500 for 2010, $92,900 for 2011, $95,100 for 2012). In addition, you can exclude or deduct certain foreign housing amounts.
You may also be entitled to exclude from income the value of meals and lodging provided to you by your employer. Refer to Exclusion of Meals and Lodging in Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad, and Publication 15-B, Employer’s Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits for more information.
- Can I Claim the Exclusion or Deduction?
- Tax Home In A Foreign Country
- Bona Fide Resident test
- Physical Presence Test
- Exceptions to Tests
- Figuring The Exclusion
- Choosing The Exclusion
- Which Form to File
- Foreign Housing Exclusion or Deduction
- Individual Retirement Arrangements
- Extension to Claim Foreign Earned Income Exclusion
FURTHER INFORMATION REGARDING TAX LIABILITIES AND OBLIGATIONS FOR AMERICANS RESIDING ABROAD AT THESE LINKS, PLEASE CONFIRM ANY INFORMATION FROM THESE LINKS WITH THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE DIRECTLY:
TAX ASSISTANCE: http://manila.usembassy.gov/wwwha010.html
Absentee Voting Information for U.S. Citizens Abroad
States are no longer required to automatically send absentee ballots to overseas voters. Therefore, it’s important that you complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) each January. Below is a step-by-step guide on how complete the FPCA and ensure that you receive your absentee voter materials in a timely manner.
Absentee Voting Basics
Absentee voting is a simple two step process.
1. Every year, send a completed Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to your local election officials.
They will confirm your eligibility to vote, and put your name on a list to receive absentee ballots for any elections held that calendar year.
They will send you a blank absentee ballot electronically or by mail.
2. Complete the ballot and send it back so it arrives before your state’s ballot return deadline. Or, if you haven’t received your blank ballot 30 days before an election use the emergency Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot to vote.
If you have any questions, you may consult FVAP.gov or ask to speak with a voting officer at your closest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Receiving Your Blank Absentee Ballot
45 days before the November general elections, your state will either send your blank ballot to you electronically, or mail it to the address you provided on your FPCA.
Ballots are generally mailed out only 30 days before primary, special and run-off elections. Depending on your state and your status abroad, you may receive absentee ballots for all elections or abbreviated ballots for elections for federal offices only.
Voting and Returning Your Ballot
Complete your ballot carefully and legibly, and return it to your local election officials before your state’s ballot receipt deadline. Send it back as early as possible.
Overseas voters have a number of options for returning voted ballots:
Local mail – If you have good mail service to the United States, put your ballot in the mail with appropriate international postage.
U.S. Embassy Pouch/APO/FPO – You can drop off your ballot request or voted ballot at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for return to the United States, or you can have someone drop it off for you. It must be addressed to your local election officials and have sufficient postage or be in a postage-paid envelope. A postage-paid envelope is available on the FVAP web site. Contact the voting assistance officer or visit the Embassy website for specific instructions.
Fax, Email, or Internet – A number of states now allow the electronic return of voted ballots. Consult the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s Voting Assistance Guide for electronic transmission options for your state.
Express Courier Service – If time is short or local mail is unreliable, you may use professional courier services such as FedEx, DHL, or UPS. Please note that FedEx does not deliver to P.O. boxes.
Verifying Your Registration
Most states now have websites where you can verify your registration. If you are unsure of your voter registration status, or want to confirm that local officials have received and approved your registration, check the FVAP website for a directory of state voter registration verification websites. You can also write, email, or call your local election officials directly.
Voting and Taxes
Voting for candidates for federal offices does not affect your federal or state tax liability. Voting for candidates for state or local offices may affect your state tax liability. Consult legal counsel if you have questions.
U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (USDVA)
The USDVA Regional Office offers a wide range of services to Veterans, including the processing of benefits claims, local payment of benefit checks, and other social services available to claimaints. Benefits counselors are on duty at the Regional Office from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM Monday through Friday to answer questions concerning all aspects of veterans benefits.
United States Department of Veterans Affairs – Manila Regional Office
Seafront Compound, 1501 Roxas Boulevard, 1302 Pasay City(near Cuneta Astrodome)
In addition to the Regional Office, VA operates a Clinic located in the same building. Clinic hours of operation are from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday. Medical care is limited to service-connected disabilities only and includes outpatient care at the clinic and inpatient care at various contract hospitals. Prior authorization is required for non-emergency outpatient care and hospitalization. Persons having questions concerning eligibility for treatment should contact the Outpatient Clinic.
United States Department of Veterans Affairs – Outpatient Clinic
Seafront Compound, 1501 Roxas Boulevard, 1302 Pasay City(near Cuneta Astrodome)
Trunkline (632) 318-8387 / Fax No: (632) 310-5957
Toll Free No: 1-800-1888-8782
For Audio Care: (632) 556-8387
Pharmacy: (632) 318-8311
Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces have the same entitlement to monetary benefits in the Philippines that they would have in the United States with the exception of Home Loans and related programs which are not available here. Benefits for Veterans of the Philippine Commonwealth Army, USAFFE, Recognized Guerillas, and New Philippine Scouts are different than those for Veterans of the regular components of the U.S. Armed Forces. U.S. citizenship does not affect their entitlement to benefits.
For more information, please visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – Manila Webpage.
For an extremely informative link on Military Retirees in the Philippines, please go to this link for the US MILITARY RETIREE ACTIVITIES OFFICE: http://www2.mozcom.com/~rao_cabr/