Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) need to acquire certain documents in accordance to the rules and policies set by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). One of these requirements includes an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) which serves as proof for the legality of an OFW’s stay abroad.
Since the issuance of the OFW ID card is still in the works, all OFWs must settle for an OEC. This applies to all work permit holders in Singapore such as Household Service Workers (HSWs), S-Pass, E-Pass, as well as PEP holders.
What is OEC?
The Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) is a document issued to OFWs by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). You can acquire it from POEA offices in the Philippines, or through POLO offices that are stationed all over the world.
The OEC serves several functions. Republic Act 8042, better known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, Section 35, states that the OEC serves as:
- A travel “exit pass” or “clearance” for OFWs at airports;
- A certificate that exempts an OFW from paying airport terminal fees and travel tax, along with reduced travel tax for his/her spouse and dependents; and
- A certificate which proves that an OFW is documented, thus guaranteeing him/her benefits and protection from the Philippine government.
Moreover, the OEC has a 60-day validity period, starting from the date of issuance. OFWs must show this document to immigration officials at the airport before leaving the Philippines.
What is Balik Manggagawa?
Sometimes, the OEC is called “Balik Manggagawa” certificate, with reference to “returning workers” or OFWs who are going back to work abroad. Notably, OFWs who are on official leave from their jobs may also be referred to as “Workers on leave” (WOL).
Who are eligible or qualified to apply for an OEC? According to the POEA, they issue this document to the following workers:
- An OFW who acquired work through direct hiring by an overseas employer or sponsor;
- An OFW who was hired through a recruitment agency; and
- An OFW who was hired through the POEA’s Government Placement Branch (GBP).
In addition, the following professional and skilled Filipino workers in Singapore can also apply for an OEC: holders of an E-Pass, S-Pass, Personalized Employment Pass, and Work Permit for Non-Domestic Workers. Similarly, OFWs who are going back to their previous employers — either to the same job site or to a different job site — can also apply for an OEC.
If you are an OFW with existing POEA records, and you are planning to go on vacation to the Philippines for the first time (but still returning to the same employer in Singapore), here is a list of the requirements that you need to acquire an OEC:
- OEC or “Balik Manggagawa” (BM) Appointment Form;
- Employment Contract verified by POLO;
- Valid Passport (original and 2 photocopies);
- Valid Work Pass or In-Principle Approval (IPA) (photocopy); and
- Confirmed Airline Ticket.
Meanwhile, the following additional requirements are needed in certain cases:
- Sworn Statement indicating the employment process (for workers who have changed their employer on-site); and
- Letter from Employer indicating the transfer (for workers who are returning to the same employer but to a different job site).
NOTE: Workers who do not have any existing POEA records cannot get an OEC from POLO Singapore. Instead, they would need to apply for an OEC at the POEA office in the Philippines. POLO Singapore can only verify their job contract, as a requirement for their OEC.
At POLO Singapore, the OEC fee, along with other related fees, are as follows:
- OEC Fee — SGD 3.00
- Verification Fee — SGD 17.00
- OWWA Membership Fee — SGD 36.00
As you can see, having a POLO-verified job contract and being an active member of OWWA is a prerequisite to obtaining an OEC at POLO Singapore. So make sure that you are prepared to pay for these fees, as well (when necessary).
How to Get an OEC in Singapore Online
The POEA has recently introduced a new online processing system, enabling OFWS to acquire an OEC exemption online (if applicable) or to set an appointment with the nearest POEA or POLO office, in order to acquire an OEC.
Here are the steps to using the new POEA online processing system:
- Visit the official website of the POEA Online Processing System for Balik Manggagawa (POPS-BaM) through this link.
- On the e-Registration tab, click “Let’s Go!” to start creating an account. Enter the necessary information, such as a valid email address and password. Check your email and click the verification link. Don’t forget to record the email address and password you used to create an account!
- Log into your account and enter or update your details, such as your passport, visa, employment information, etc.
- Now, it’s time to apply for an OEC! Go to “My Links” on the left tab, then select “Balik Manggagawa.”
- Make sure that the initial assessment is colored green, then click “Next.”
- Enter your departure date from the Philippines.
- Confirm your employment details. The screen will show your latest employment information that is registered with the POEA. Make sure that everything is marked “Clear.”
- The system will ask, “Are you returning to this job site?” (i.e. the same employer shown on the screen). If your answer is YES, proceed to OEC Exemption (see below). If your answer is NO, proceed to step no. 9.
- Enter your latest employment information, such as the name of your employer, business permit, employer’s valid ID, employer’s address, etc.
- Select the nearest POEA or POLO office, then set the date and time of your appointment.
- Print your Balik Manggagawa Information Sheet. You can take a screenshot of your confirmed appointment, too.
- On the date of your appointment, bring your Balik Manggagawa Information Sheet and other documents to the POEA or POLO office to obtain an OEC.
NOTE: When creating an account on the POEA online processing system, only one (1) e-Registration account is allowed for one (1) OFW.
If you are going back to the same employer and the same job site in Singapore, plus if you have already obtained an OEC before, you can qualify for an OEC exemption. This means that you don’t have to go to a POEA or POLO office; you can simply generate and print an OEC exemption online.
That being said, please remember that even if you are exempted from OEC, you still need to register and log into the POEA online processing system in order to generate an OEC or Balik Manggagawa exemption.
Here are the steps to getting an OEC exemption:
- Follow steps 1 to 8 from above (How to Get an OEC in Singapore Online). You will be asked, “Are you returning to this job site?” (i.e. the same employer shown on the screen). Click “Yes.”
- Check your online records and make sure that all your employment details are updated and correct. Don’t forget to enter the starting date and duration of your contract.
- After entering all the necessary details, the system will generate your OEC or Balik Manggagawa exemption. Print this document as proof that you are exempted.
Upon leaving the Philippines, show your OEC or Balik Manggagawa exemption to immigration officials at the airport. Again, be sure to print a copy of this document on the date of your departure, to avoid any problems.
How to Get an OEC at POLO Office in Singapore
You will need to apply for an OEC at POLO Singapore in the following cases:
- You have an existing record with the POEA, you’re planning to go on vacation to the Philippines for the first time, though you are returning to the same employer; or
- You have an existing record with the POEA, and you’ve changed employer on-site.
In both of these cases, you will need to book an appointment with POLO Singapore before getting your OEC at the office, as outlined by these steps:
Part 1: Booking a “Balik Manggagawa” (BM) Appoinment
- Enter your latest employment details on the POEA online processing system. This applies to those who are returning to a different employer and/or job site, as well as those who already have a record with POEA, but have not yet registered on the system.
- After entering your latest employment details, click “Submit.”
- Book a “Balik Manggagawa” (BM) appointment by choosing your preferred processing location (e.g. POLO Singapore).
- Choose your preferred appointment date.
- That’s it! You have just made a BM Appointment.
Part 2: Getting an OEC in Singapore
- On the date of your appointment, go to the POLO office in Singapore.
- Show a copy of your confirmed appointment schedule to the security guard.
- Submit all the required documents to the reception officer for verification.
- Pay the OEC and other fees (if applicable) at the counter.
- That’s it! After payment, you will receive your OEC.
Upon leaving the Philippines, show your OEC to immigration officials at the airport. Once again, make sure that all the information stated in your OEC is correct, to avoid any problems.
Video: Guide to Getting Your OEC in Singapore
To have a better on how to apply for your OEC, check out this video shared by the YouTube channel of “Single Mom’s 0Fw Journey.” In this video, the vlogger shares her experience in getting her OEC as an OFW in Singapore:
Frequently Asked Questions
Meanwhile, here are some commonly asked questions and answers about the OEC, OEC exemption, and the POEA online processing system, for your reference:
1. How long is the validity of an OEC?
The OEC is valid for 60 days, beginning from the date of issuance. This means that the date of your departure from the Philippines should fall within this period.
2. How much is the OEC fee in Singapore?
The OEC fee in Singapore is SGD 3.00. However, if your OWWA membership has expired, or if your employment contract is not yet verified, you will need to prepare SGD 36.00 and SGD 17.00 as OWWA membership fee and verification fee, respectively. These are considered as “prerequisites” to getting an OEC.
3. If my OWWA membership is inactive, can I get an OEC?
No. You cannot get an OEC if your OWWA membership is inactive or has expired. As mentioned earlier, you will need to pay the OWWA membership fee, as part of applying for your OEC.
4. The POEA online processing system has confirmed that I am exempted from OEC. Do I still have to go to a POEA or POLO office?
No. You don’t have to go to a POEA or POLO office if the POEA online processing system has confirmed that you are exempted from OEA. All you have to do now is to print your OEC exemption and show it to immigration officials at the airport before leaving the Philippines.
5. I am returning to the same employer in Singapore. How can I get an OEC exemption?
If you are going back to the same employer and the same job site in Singapore, you can get an OEC exemption through the POEA online processing system. Simply follow the onscreen instructions to generate (and to print) your OEC exemption.
6. Can I change the email address I used to register on the POEA online processing system?
No. Your email serves as your permanent log-in account on the POEA online processing system, so you can’t change it. However, you can change your password from time to time, for security purposes.
Other than your email address, the following data cannot be manually changed on the system, too: name, gender, and date of birth. Therefore, you should always make sure that you enter correct and accurate information on the system at all times!
7. I forgot the email address and password I used to register an account on the POEA online processing system. What should I do?
Go to the online POEA Help Desk through this link. Then, click “Create a Ticket” and file an electronic ticket, explaining that you need to correct your email address and password. To follow up your ticket, just click “Inquire Ticket.”
8. I was able to get an OEC during my last vacation, but I haven’t registered on the new POEA online processing system yet. Can I still get an OEC exemption now?
No. Registration on the new POEA online processing system is now required to get an OEC, even if you were able to obtain this document in the past.
9. Do I need to acquire an OEC each time I go on vacation to the Philippines?
Yes. You need to obtain an OEC each time you go on vacation to the Philippines. This involves logging into the POEA online processing system and booking an appointment with the POEA or POLO to get an OEC, or getting an OEC exemption (if applicable).
10. I am going back to the same employer and I was able to get an OEC before. However, the POEA online processing system is re-directing me to the appointment page. I wonder why?
Even if you were able to get an OEC before, the POEA online processing system will re-direct you to the appointment page if you happen to be:
- An OFW who is on a watchlist, or your employer is on a watchlist;
- An OFW who is going back to a non-compliant or restricted country;
- An OFW with no existing records in the POEA database, or there are discrepancies between the information given and the data in the system;
- An undocumented worker (e.g. tourist, student, dependent) who became an OFW; or
- A sea-based OFW who became a land-based OFW.
The OEC is an important document that every OFW should acquire before returning to their jobs abroad. Fortunately, you can easily get it from POLO Singapore, as long as you have all the requirements and have booked an appointment. In certain cases, you may even qualify for an OEC exemption, which means that you can apply for it online — without having to go to a POEA or POLO office. Either way, obtaining your OEC is a must, so make sure that you know how to apply for it, wherever you may be as an OFW!
Contact Information: POLO Singapore
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your OEC, feel free to get in touch with POLO Singapore through the contract details below. Please note that their office is open between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm every weekday (Mondays to Fridays), except during public holidays of Singapore and the Philippines.
Address: 20 Nassim Rd, Singapore 258395
Telephone: +65 6737 3977 Ext. 134 and 135 (office phone) / +65 9113 6552 (hotline) (numbers for Contract Verification, Agency Accreditation, OEC Concerns)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (OEC Concerns)
Google Map Location
The POLO office is situated at the Philippine Embassy, specifically at “20 Nassim Rd., Singapore 258395.” Below is the office’s location on Google Maps, for your reference:
DISCLAIMER: We hope that the above guide has been helpful, especially if you are an OFW in Singapore and you are planning to go on vacation to the Philippines soon. Moreover, please take note that the above guide is presented for general, information-sharing purposes only. To learn more about the latest requirements, fees, and steps in acquiring an OEC or OEC exemption, please visit the official website of POLO Singapore.