Welcome to the Philippines, I hope everything is good with your family. I am aware that our helpful friends have already responded to your questions, but I just wanted to let you know that we are delighted to help and support you in any way that is most convenient for you and in compliance with the NTC.
I am also part of Laurel VEC Pilipinas Testing Group under FCC.
I shared some resources on obtaining a temporary permit here: https://n2rac.com/9bbd50ab6adc . Ease of processing would depend on which province and regional office you will be going to in applying for your permit.
To answer your questions in point:
1. You can take the local exam here. The steps are outlined in another one of my articles: https://n2rac.com/2268365756d . Frankly, however, it involves some transactional friction, given that this requires several trips to NTC. Many visitors and permanent residents here would tell me they would rather keep renewing their temporary permits because it is simpler. But if you and your wife prefer to get local callsigns, then you will need to take the local test.
This usually requires taking a seminar (as per the first step in the article I linked above). However, you may be given the opportunity to directly test for the Class B or General Class exam, as you have an equivalent license from the FCC. Some regional offices may dispense with the seminar requirement, especially given that you are already licensed by another jurisdiction.
Membership with clubs is often recommended here, but not required. It is actually being used by many hams as a shortcut to getting their licenses renewed, since it is the easiest way to get a "proof of amateur activity," which is required by NTC for renewal.
2. Yes, there are official distributors here, particularly Yaesu and Icom gear. You can look for "EIB Radio" which is a company run by a ham here -- they are the local distributor of Yaesu. Their prices are competitive and often even lower than in the US.
You may of course also ship your radios, although be aware that customs might require you to submit documents. Technically, any import of transceivers will require an import permit. If you are hand-carrying or bringing radios in your luggage, you can perhaps show a copy of your FCC license and they might consider.
3. Connected to point #2, yes, the "radio station license" here includes both license for the individual and registration for transceivers. When you apply for a temporary permit, you will be asked to register at least one radio (serial number), so I recommend that you include all and any transceivers that you intend to use in your permit.
Otherwise, the usual process is to apply for a "permit to purchase" first from the NTC before buying a radio from an official dealer, after which you have to apply for a modification of your radio station license to add that radio.
Frankly, it's simpler to add/delete radios on a temporary permit than on a local/regular license, as it is a matter of submitting serial numbers and adding them to your permit!
The same goes when buying and selling used gear from other hams. If it's already in their radio station license, you will need a deed of sale and a permit to purchase so you can have it transferred to yours.
Operationally speaking, though, given the availability of transceivers on e-commerce sites like Lazada, Shopee, and now Amazon, there is a high likelihood that some hams are using un-registered radios when they go on air--after all, there's no way of knowing if someone's radio is not registered, unless you physically check out their stations and licenses, right?
What place or places are you planning to travel to? We can perhaps ask for tips from other visitors or permanent residents based on their experience.
This early, as a fellow Ham, I welcome you to the Philippines in advance. . Regarding your questions,let me answer briefly: 1. The Philippines allows foreign hams to operate here. May I refer you to our umbrella organization - PARA (Phil Amateur Radio Association) website at https://www.para.org.ph/foreign-hams.html but you can also get your Phil callsign here if you like. Maybe some of our more knowledgeable members can follow this thread for a more in depth information. 2. Yes, transceivers are available here through legitimate suppliers, you can buy them here locally subject to NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) regulations. I believe you can bring in your used reliable equipment with you, I just dont know the exact process. Again, guys help me out hahaha. 3. Yes, your initial info is right, you need to have permits to import, purchase, transfer, posses transceivers here in the Phil that is tied to your Radio Operators Certificate/Radio Station License (ROC/RSL). Yes its tedious, but once youre settled in, all will make sense .
I came across this forum while looking for information about operating from the Philippines. We are planning on retiring in the Philippines in the next few years and will probably travel there at least a few times before that. I currently have a General class license in the US. I know I can get a temporary license issued but am not sure about how long that would be good for. So I do have a few questions I would appreciate it if someone could clue me in.
1) Long term we are looking at getting permanent residency in the Philippines. My wife is Balikbayan and will most likely get her citizenship back. Is it possible for me to take the tests and get a permanent license? 2) Are transceivers and other equipment easily available in the Philippines and/or is it better to ship or bring my own equipment? Is US compliant radios OK? 3) It sounds like you need a license to have radios in the Philippines unlike in the US where you only need the license to transmit. Is this true? Do you have to notify someone every time you acquire or sell a transceiver?