<strong>What is the Balikbayan Program?</strong>
It is instituted under the administration of the Department of Tourism 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.
It also includes former Filipinos who have acquired foreign citizenship, unless that citizenship makes them restricted nationals. Contact your local Philippines Embassy or consulate for information on the process for such nationals.
The Balikbayan must have been absent from the Philippines for at least one (1) year to avail themselves and their families of this privilege.
Under This Privilege A Balikbayan Can:
* Stay in the Philippines without a visa for a period of one year.
* The balikbayan visa-free stay privilege is extended to the balikbayan’s non-Filipino spouse and children, provided they enter the Philippines with the balikbayan.
Former Filipino balikbayans traveling to the Philippines on a non Filipino passport are advised to bring proof of their former Philippine citizenship in the form of either
a) Their old Philippine passport
b) A copy of Philippine birth certificate.
Accompanying family members of the balikbayan can 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
Philippine Law (R.A. 9174) provides benefits to baikbayans:
◦Tax-exempt maximum purchases in the amount of USD 1,500, or the equivalent in Philippine and other currency, at Philippine Government–operated duty free shops
◦Exemption from Travel Tax, provided that their stay in the Philippines is one year or less. If their stay in the Philippines exceeds one year, Travel tax will apply to them.
*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.
* Correspondingly, all Balikbayans 14 years and below and 60 years of age shall be allowed to extend their temporary visitor visa under Section 9a of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 as amended, for a maximum period of 6 months for every extension PROVIDED that all appropriate fees are paid. Thus, Balikbayans are allowed a maximum total stay of 2 years inclusive of all extensions. (MEMORANDUM ORDER NO. ADD – 02 – 011 dated 11 February 2002).
For Further information about the benefit, contact your local Bureau Of Immigration Office in The Philippines or the Philippine Embassy or Consulate nearest you.
So if your spouse:
a) Is a Filipino citizen.
b) Was formerly a Filipino citizen, and now holds a passport as a non-restricted national of another country.
b) Can provide documentary evidence of this as outlined above.
c) Has been out of the country for at least one year.
Then You can avail for yourself and your children the same Balikbayan Visa Free Privilege available to your spouse.
Some are going to read this and say they got their Balikbayan Visa Free Privilege after going on a four-day honeymoon, or some other variation to the rules stated above. Sadly it is true that the grounds for receiving a Balikbayan Visa are not applied evenly at all points of entry or even at the same point of entry. If you get offered the privilege without meeting the conditions outlined above, good on you, enjoy. However what is outlined in this article are the official conditions, anything extra is a bonus not a right.