The Balikbayan Program of the Philippine Government, which was founded on the Republic Act 6768 (or the amended RA 9174), aims to engage and reward OFWs all over the world to return home and visit their motherland in recognition of their contribution and efforts to support the Philippine economy through the inflow of foreign remittances and revenues they produce.
The program entitles foreign passport holders visa-free entry in the Philippines for one (1) year, with the exception of visa-required citizens. The term balikbayan covers the following:
- Overseas Filipino Workers
- A Philippine resident who has been uninterruptedly out of the country for more than one (1) year from the time of his/her departure and their families (spouse and minor children who are technically not considered balikbayan) who are traveling with the balikbayan to the Philippines.
- An ex-Filipino national with a foreign passport as well as his/her members of the family residing overseas.
How to Avail the One Year Visa-Free Stay of the Balikbayan Program
Balikbayans returning to the Philippines are instructed to inform the Immigration Officer upon arriving at the port of entry that he/she is availing the Balikbayan privilege. The balikbayan has to provide either their old passport or a copy of their Philippine birth certificate to prove their former citizenship.
Also, if travelling with family members from overseas, the balikbayan should provide supporting documents for each family member visiting such as:
- Spouse: a copy of their marriage certificate
- Children: a copy of each child’s birth certificate
- Adopted child: a copy of their adoption papers
Furthermore, balikbayans don’t only get to enjoy a one year visa-free stay in the Philippines, they also get to avail the following privileges:
- Travel tax exemption, on the condition that the balikbayan and his/her family will be staying in the Philippines for one year or less only. Otherwise, travel tax will be applied.
- Tax-free maximum purchases amounting to $1,500, or the equivalent in Philippine or other currency, in Philippine Government-owned duty free stores.
As an important sector of the society, the government has been working in developing and promoting programs that would benefit the huge and growing OFW communities here and abroad. It is only fitting that OFWs and balikbayans enjoy the fruits of their hard work and labour overseas right in their very own homeland through the Government’s Balikbayan Program.