The Balikbayan Program as instituted by Republic Act 6768 (amended by Republic Act 9174) was launched by the Philippine Government to attract and encourage overseas Filipinos to come and visit their motherland. This is in recognition of their contribution to the economy of the country through the foreign exchange inflow and revenues that they generate.
The program allows visa-free entry to the Philippines for a period of one (1) year for foreign passport holders, with the exception of restricted nationals. It also includes a kabuhayan shopping privilege allowing tax-exempt purchase of livelihood tools and providing the opportunity to avail of the necessary training to enable the balikbayan to become economically self-reliant members of society upon their return to the country. The program also intends to showcase competitive and outstanding Filipino-made products.
Who are considered Balikbayans?
- A Filipino citizen who has been continuously out of the Philippines for a period of at least one (1) year
- A Filipino overseas worker
- A former Filipino citizen who had been naturalized in one of the following countries and who comes or returns to the Philippines: Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Oman, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vatican, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe
The Balikbayan Program also extends to immediate family members (spouse and children) of the Balikbayan, who are nationals of one of the countries above, and travelling together with the Balikbayan. The program allows visa-free entry into the Philippines and visa-free stay or a period of one (1) year for Balikbayans who are former Filipinos and/or the immediate family of Balikbayans who are from the above countries.
How can I I avail of the Balikbayan Program?
Former Filipino nationals who wish to avail of the program must present proof of former Philippine citizenship such as old Philippine passport or Philippine birth certificate upon arrival at any Philippine Port of Entry. In cases that their spouses and minor children travel together with them, they must present the following:
- Old Philippine passport or Philippine birth certificate for the key claimant;
- Marriage certificate for the spouse;
- Birth certificate for the child; and,
- Foreign passport with a validity of at least six (6) months beyond the intended stay in the Philippines.
Accompanying family members of the Balikbayan should bring appropriate supporting documents:
- For the spouse: copy of marriage certificate
- For each child: copy of birth certificate
- For adopted children: copy of adoption papers
According to the Bureau of Immigration, the Balikbayan Privilege can be availed of by the foreign member of a balikbayan’s family EVERY TIME they enter the Philippines with the balikbayan (former Filipino/dual citizen) and not only once a year.
Former Filipinos and or their immediate family who are nationals of countries not found on the above list will need to secure a visa before going to the Philippines.
What are the benefits under the Balikbayan Program?
(a) Travel Tax exemption;
(b) Visa-free entry to the Philippines for a period of one (1) year, for a foreign passport holder;
(c) Duty-Free shopping privilege of up to US$2,000.00 (US$1000.00 as arriving Balikbayan and US$1000.00 as arriving passenger) provided that:
(i) Shopping must be done within two days upon arrival;
(ii) Duty free shopping privilege can be availed of only once a year; and
(iii) Purchases must be made personally by the Balikbayan.
Those who are admitted as Balikbayans are given an initial stay of one (1) year. They may extend their stay for another one (1), two (2) or six (6) months provided that they present their valid passport and filled out the visa extension form and submit it to the Visa Extension Section in the BI Main Office or any BI Offices nationwide. An additional requirement will be ask for Balikbayans who have stayed in the Philippines after thirty six (36) months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are foreign spouses and children of Filipino nationals who are not traveling with their Filipino spouses and/or children still allowed entry so long as they apply for the appropriate Philippine visa?
Answer: Yes. Foreign spouses and minor children not traveling with the Filipino principal will be allowed entry to the Philippines as long as they obtain visas, pursuant to FSC 36-2020 and FSC 42-2020. The Filipino principal should be in the Philippines
Are foreign spouses and children who have no visa-free privileges still required to apply for visas even if they are traveling with their Filipino spouse or parent?
Answer: Yes. Foreign spouses and children who are not visa-free under E.O. 408 should obtain visas even if they are traveling with the Filipino principal.
Are foreign minor children of Filipino nationals who will rejoin their Filipino parents in the Philippines required to apply for visas, as opposed to adult foreign children traveling with their Filipino parents but are no longer required to apply for visas?
Answer: Yes. Foreign minor children rejoining their Filipino parents in the Philippines need to obtain visas prior to their travel into the country. Adult foreign children, on the other hand, traveling with their Filipino parents may enter visa-free if they are eligible under EO 408.
How long can the balikbayan and their foreign legal spouse and children stay in the Philippines?
Answer: They shall be admitted with one-year validity of stay from the date of arrival.
Do foreign children of Filipino parents refer to unmarried children only? Or does it also cover married children?
Answer: Balikbayan privileges cover both married and unmarried foreign children of Filipinos or former Filipinos.
For balikbayans who are unable to present old Philippine passports or birth certificates, will they be allowed entry just by showing in their foreign passport that their place of birth is the Philippines?
Answer: They shall be asked to present the following: 1) Copy of previously issued or expired PH Passport 2) Copy of birth certificate 3) Previous immigration arrival stamp with Balikbayan status
Do marriage certificates and birth certificates issued by foreign governments need to be apostilled or authenticated?
Answer: Yes. Documentary proof issued by foreign governments needs to be apostilled or authenticated as previously requested by the BI.
For those who are dual citizens by birth (e.g. born in the US to Filipino parents), are they considered balikbayans and would therefore only need to present a copy of their Report of Birth (ROB) to be allowed entry? Will the Bureau of Immigration accept the ROB as proof of Filipino citizenship?
Answer: The BI requires the presentation of the Identification Certificate, valid Philippine Passport, or Certificate of Re-acquisition and Retention from dual citizens, per its SBM-2014- 045 dated 30 September 2014. Children who are dual citizens may be issued a travel document with the Report of Birth as an attachment. They should present a Philippine passport upon exit from the country.