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Frequently Asked Questions
 
     
 
1. What is RAO?

RAO Subic Bay is an Independent Retired Activities Office and information center that provides vital services to U.S. military retirees and their families residing in the greater Olongapo city area. We also have a CACO service whereby we provide service to our widows. As an information center we also provide vital information to U.S. citizens residing in the area.
 
 
  2. How many members RAO have at present?

RAO Subic currently has a membership of 1,000 plus members.
 
 
  3. Who is eligible for RAO membership?

Membership is open to all U.S. military retirees, un-remarried widows of retirees, and retirees of Allied military services. (Note: Members of allied military must be able to prove they are retired just like US military personnel do), Membership is also available to non-retiree U.S. citizens including those employed on SBFZ, etc. (Associate members are NOT allowed to use the FPO military mail service.)
 
 
  4. How much do I need to pay for membership fee?

Commencing 01 Dec 2013 RAO dues will be $6.00 per month or $72.00 per year. This is a standard flat rate, There will be no partial payments accepted. We prefer dollars or dollar instruments we also except Philippine pesos depending on the exchange rate. Due to Philippine banking restrictions no money orders can be accepted.

 
 
  5. What are the benefits I get if I become a member?

As a member you are entitled to FPO mail (if retired military), fax service, e-mail service and local mail service. We are also an information center and provide the latest information of any sort that may affect or community. We also provide information on the quarterly outreaches sponsored by the US embassy.
 
 
  6. Can I be a member of other organization if I'm already a RAO member?

Absolutely! Most of our members are also members of other organizations such as Veterans of foreign wars (VFW), American Legion, FRA etc.
 
 
  7. Is there other organization such as RAO in the Philippines?

Aside form VFW and American Legion both located in Olongapo, There is FRA 367 located in San Antonio (about 40 minutes north of Olongapo) also RAOs located in Angeles City, La Union, Cebu, Baguio City and Iloilo.
 
 
  8. What do I need to do if I'm planning to relocate to the Philippines?

The first advice we can give is for you to make a “looksee” trip here to see if this is really what you want. As far as visas are concerned you can initially enter the country on your American passport for a stay of 30 days. NOTE: you will be required to have an onward or round trip ticket as a tourist. If you are coming are coming to stay on that initial trip and if you have house hold goods you wish to ship; it is in your best interest to have a resident visa better known as an ACR. Otherwise you may pay much higher custom taxes on the house hold goods. Once in the country you have seven days to clear quarantine and as soon as possible you should go to immigrations and exchange the paper ACR to the new plastic ACR-I wallet sized card.

NOTE: If you or your spouse has dual citizenship, you are eligible to ship household goods without custom fees if done within 6 months of repatrization. (See Phillipine Immigration website)

 
 
  9. How can I open the PDF files on this site?

PDF (Portable Document Format) can be open using Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you don't have an Acrobat Reader, Adobe Acrobat is available for download for FREE at Adobe site.
 
 
  10. I am an American citizen and plan to visit the Philippines. What visa will I need?

Enter on your passport for a 30 days stay and extend out for 2 months at a time if you intend to stay longer. Maximum stay is 16 months.
 
 
  11. My wife is a former Filipino citizen, but has acquired U.S. citizenship while Residing abroad. What visas will we need to live in the Philippines?

See items 8 and 10 above. .
 
 
  12. I have children by my Filipina wife. We plan to live in the Philippines. What visas will my children require?

Children born of an American father and Filipina mother can enter as tourists using their US passports and extend, if necessary, while waiting to get “dual recognition” or if desired, they may register as “dual citizens”. They can enter the USA on their American passports and enter the Philippines with the letter of dual recognition. This letter should be kept in their passports. NOTE: the same requirements will be as per question # 11 above. Anyone on a tourist visa will be required to have an onward or return ticket. ALSO dual recognition, as a rule is for children 18 and under and dual citizenship refers to Filipinos who have attained foreign citizenship and wish to return home as a citizen.
 
 
  13. I'm coming to live in the Philippines . I have a dog and would like to bring it with me. What do I need to do?

Apply for an import permit with the Animal Health Division (AHD), Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) by writing a letter addressed to the BAI director. See also, Bringing Pets and Animals to the Philippines.
 
 
  14. I keep my money in Navy Federal Credit Union. How could I do my banking if I were residing in the Philippines?

There are several ways of doing this. You can open a dollar account with any commercial bank here in the Philippines and deposit an NFCU personal check each month. These checks usually take 30 days to clear before you can withdraw the money, depending on which bank you choose. Or you can make a wire transfer again you should have a dollar account in a commercial bank. Another way is to have your funds direct deposited (DDS) to a commercial bank, guaranteed to have your money by the 3rd day of the month. And last but not least you can wire your money to Western Union each month and take it out in dollars. My advice is to use the check method. This way your money stays in NFCU. NOTE: wire transfers cost $25.00 each for international bank transfer and $14.50 for western union. Western union money can be available to you in about three hours average paid in dollars or pesos. The non-commercial banks or “countryside banks as they are referred to here” as a rule do not deal in dollars or dollar instruments.

 
 
  15. I am retired military and plan to live in the Philippines . Can I get medical Treatment through VA and can I use my GI bill for school in the Philippines?

We are fortunate to have the only VA Outpatient Clinic (VAOPC) outside the United States. VAOPC treats “*service connected*” patients ONLY and the clinic is located in Manila. If you are SC you can sign up for “fee base” treatment whereas once established VAOPC will require you to visit the clinic once a year in the interim you are seen by your authorized family doctor every three months in a hospital or clinic near you. Yes. You can use your GI bill for school here in the Philippines. There are many VA accredited schools throughout the country.
 
 
  16. If I am retired military and move to Olongapo do you have FPO mail service?

Yes we have FPO mail service, but it is restricted to military members and their dependents. The mail service is also restricted to maximum of one pound for letter mail and absolutely NO packages.
 
 
  17. I am retired Navy and a member of Navy Federal Credit Union. If I reside in the Philippines , can I get loans through NFCU?

Yes we have been very successful with loans since the bases pulled out. We can make new and used auto loans as well as other loans such as personal etc. However, we cannot obtain loans for property or to buy a house or for small business, but we can make home improvement loans.
 
 
  18. How do I acquire a Driver's License in the Philippines?

When you arrive in the Philippines and decide to get a drivers license you will be asked to get a "student drivers permit". This permit will last for about six months, after which you can then take the drivers exam however, the requirements are you must be of legal age and have a resident visa, 13 (A) 13 (G). If not a 13A visa holder, one must obtain student visa (9F) (Refer to Philippine Immigration Website). After you have met the requirements you may take the exam and exchange your state side license for a local license. During the time you have the student driver’s permit you may drive on your state side license or in the case of a teenager acquiring his/her first license, they must have a licensed driver with them when driving.
 
 
  19. If I visit the Philippines, can I use my stateside driver's license?

Tourists and similar transients who are duly license to operate motor vehicles in their respective countries may be allowed to operate motor vehicles during but not after (90) days of their sojourn in the Philippines.
 
 
  20. I am planning to move to the Philippines, What housing is available for me and who can I contact?

As per earlier questions I would advise a “looksee” trip first. Anything I tell you today may change tomorrow. The Olongapo/Barrio Barretto areas and points north are fast becoming tourist areas. People are moving in every day. There are many units open on SBFZ for rent.
 
 
  21. Where do I file income taxes for deceased persons? Give me information on filing income taxes for civilian employees.

We have the forms each year to file all types of taxes. If a person dies during the tax year reporting is the same. If it is a complicated case we have a man that comes in every Friday, just after the first of the year, to do taxes. He works for "H & R block" and can handle any case.
 
 
  22. Can you update DEERS and ID cards and can this be done if Husband is not in the area?

Yes! We can update DEERS for all family members. As long as we have a signed 1172 by the husband and supporting documents. We no longer do ID card request since there is a DMDC unit now located in the US embassy. This unit will have capability to go into the field and assist those who are old and disabled.
 
 
  23. I am retired U.S. citizen planning on getting dual citizenship. How will this affect my taxes?

Becoming a dual citizen will allow you to have full privileges of both American and Filipino citizenship. You can own land, house and lot or a business. You can vote for both countries, but you only pay taxes on money earned here in the Philippines. If your source of income is retired pay you will not pay taxes here. Only in USA on money earned there. Note: as a rule dual citizenship applies to Filipinos that have become citizens of a foreign country and now desire to return to the country of birth and dual. *I do not believe this is offered to foreigners.*
 
 
  24. What is the amount of retired pay that I will need to reside in the Philippines? Will p2 million be sufficient to build a 2 story, 4 bed room, and 2 bath house?

2 million pesos (approximately 50,000 USD) can build you a very nice house depending on the area you reside and cost of labor and materials. $1,200.00-1,500.00 should be enough to get by nicely depending on the budget you set for yourself. Keep in mind that things are going up here in the Philippines as in all countries with the high prices of oil.
 
 
  25. If I decide to retire to the Philippines can I bring my household goods with me? And how much it will cost in taxes?

See item 8 above.

 
 
  26. When I tried to change my address with DFAS it did not recognize the "1000" in our zip code.

Just don't use the 1000. Your mail will get to you anyway.

 
 
  27. What do I have to do to lease a house on base?

When you get here go to the investment office on base and talk to them.

 
 
  28. What is the longest time I can stay in the Philippines?

You can come and stay 30 days on just your passport. You can then extend out 56 days at a time up to a year. Then you must leave the country for 48 hours and start all over. This method can get expensive for extensions, plane tickets, hotel rooms etc. you do have the choice to get a resident visa and stay up to 10 years. All you need do is apply for it. The (ACR-I card) as it is commonly called, is a credit card size card carried in your wallet.

 
 
  29. Do I need a sponsor to retire in the Philippines?

No! As a single person, and if you intend to reside here permanently, you apply for a 13 (g) visa which is automatically incorporated into the ACR-I card.

 
 
  30. Do I need money on deposit in a Philippine bank in order to retire there?

No! You can transfer money each month via western union, but it is only smart to have your money in a bank so you don't have to have it all at home or on you. You must be present at the bank to apply for an account.

 
 
  31. I will retire and plan to reside in Quezon City area. Is there an RAO in that area? And how do I join?

Yes! There is an "RAO manila". The e-mail address is raomanila@mozcom.com and the director is Mr. Verge Medina.

 
 
  32. Do we have an RAO office in Cebu? If so what is the e-mail address.

Yes! We have an SRAO in Cebu. The director's name is Mr. Lee Lindsey. E-mail address is raocebu@yahoo.com

 
 
  33. I am retired, married and have two kids. Want to move to Subic near Montessori school. What is average cost of apt in that area or on base?

Your best bet is to reside on base. They have several American schools and plenty of houses left to rent.

 
 
  34. Under what circumstances would the FPO post master allow a package?

That would have to be taken up with the post master. His phone number is 011-63-2-301-2953.

 
 
  35. I am an American vet living in Taiwan. I would like to buy or rent a house in Subic to visit now and then.

My advice is to come over and have a look see.

 
 
  36. I am retired navy. I know a lot of my friends retired in Subic. Any way to find out who is who?

Sorry! We do not publish the names of our members. If you have a friend here drop a line and I will put it in their mail box, if they are a member. Write to: Director RAO Subic PSC 517 box RS FPO AP 96517-1000 or use this e-mail dir@raosubic.com

 
 
  37. I currently have a house guest who is married, but separated from a Filipino citizen in manila. She wishes to divorce him here in the USA and marry me. Will our marriage be recognized in the Philippines should we decide to visit or reside there?

If she was a Philippine citizen and was married here in the Philippines she remains married until they get an annulment in the Philippines

 
 
  38. Can you tell me what schools and universities are Accredited by VA?

Try www.va.gov and look for the Philippines.

 
 
  39. How long will it take to get a dual citizenship in the Philippines?

It is new here and there are many problems. You will just have to cope with it or do it in the USA. I have no idea of cost, if any.

 
 
  40. Where can I find information on FPO and what do I have to do to get an FPO mail box.

You came to the right place. If you join the RAO Subic or any of our satellites just show your military ID card to join and you are on the list for FPO mail. Remember: it is a "MAO" or mailing address only. No packages allowed!!

 
 
  41. My wife and I are both naturalized American citizens and our Philippine passports have long been expired. Does this mean we cannot stay in the Philippines?

Your passports no longer have any bearing on travel since you are now Americans. You can enter the country for 30 days on your passports. If you just visit and want to stay longer just go to immigrations on 7th street in Olongapo or go to manila immigrations and get a 59 day extension.

 
 
  42. I did not sign up for GI bill. Can I still go to school and have VA pay my expenses? Also can I file medical disabilities with VA manila?

If you did not sign up for GI bill you are SOL dude. What makes you think it is free over here?? To file for VA pension you need get the proper form and fill it out complete. Send to VA. Wait for them to send you a letter to come in for AC & P. if you get caught making false statements on a VA claim you will lose your eligibility for VA pension. Your time limit for GI bill is ten years after retirement or separation.

 
 
  43. I’m not retired, but 100% sc disabled. Can I use the FPO?

The only way you can use the FPO is if you have the ID card that states you are disabled 100%.

 
 
  44. If I have a social security check direct deposit to a bank in Davao, are there U.S. dollars there?

Just make sure you use a commercial bank, i.e. coconut planter bank, bank of Philippine islands, etc.

 
 
  45. My husband served in Vietnam and is now retired from a private law firm. Is he eligible for Tricare in the Philippines?

It sounds to me that he did not retire from the Navy, rather served his four years obligation and got out. To be eligible for Tricare one must be retired from the military, 20 years plus.

 
 
  46. I have a friend and he has a daughter residing in the Philippines with her mom. He is sure the child is his. What does he have to do to get the child to Japan to reside with him and his family?

I have worked cases like this before. He has to do many things. He must come to the Philippines and get permission from the mother for the child to leave the country. He must take the child and the birth certificate to the citizen services branch and claim the child as his. Once that is done he will also need a permit from department of social welfare and development (DSWD) for the child to travel with him. This all takes time.

 
 
  47. My Filipina wife gave birth to our child in September. Can I report the birth to the consulate in Cebu?

I don't see why not. You and the child must be present and of course the mom too.

 
 
  48. Are there clinics, hospitals that accept Tricare

Yes there are some clinics that are open daytime only and they do accept tricare. There is going to be a new hospital built on base near the Kalaklan Gate, gut that is along way down the road. Gordon Hospital is expanding and I hear they are accepting Tricare. More to come later.

 
 
 

Note:

1. There are many commercial banks in the Philippines and they will accept direct deposit of your pay. You must be in the bank to open an account. Direct deposit pay is guaranteed by third day of the month. If your money is in a bank in the USA and your DDS is to that bank, and you do not desire to change, no problem. When you arrive have enough money in traveler’s checks to get you through the next month. Open an account with a bank near you and deposit a check for the amount you believe to be your monthly budget, wait 25 days and the money is clear and can be taken out. I have been doing that for 14 years with no problems. Any questions on this please ask me.

 

2. When entering the Philippines there is no problem with the things you bring in as long as they are for personal use. If you bring say five laptops you will most likely pay taxes on four of them. Use your head when bringing things into the country.

 
If you have other questions that is not answered from this list, please send your question, comments, and suggestions to RAO Voice and we will try to give you answers right away.
 
     
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