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One year Visa-free Balikbayan Stay in the Philippines for the Foreign Spouse/ Children of Filipino Citizens

Kach Umandap - Howe Inspiration and Love Stories, Philippines 57 Comments

This article was published in August 2016.

A few weeks ago, I’ve been researching a lot about the process of renewing and changing my last name in my Philippines passport while at the same time registering our marriage thru the Philippines Embassy in London! Unexpectedly, I found out about the BALIKBAYAN STAY PROGRAM that all spouse or children of a Filipino/Filipina citizen can stay for one-year Visa-free in the Philippines! Usually, foreign passport holders have to pay for at least 93GBP to get a 1-year multiple entry visa or get a free visa on arrival to enter the Philippines or visa-free for a month if you’ll only do a short visit!

Kach and Jonathan - Pictrip pictorial in London

The Balikbayan Program, as instituted by Republic Act 6768 (amended by Republic Act 9174), was launched by the Philippine Government “under the administration of the Department of Tourism to attract and encourage overseas Filipinos to come and visit their motherland.”

Anyway, below are the details I found from different Philippines Embassy websites (Singapore, London, USA), full credits to our efficient Foreign affairs websites! This is the easiest and cheapest way to get a long-term visa for the Philippines. If a balikbayan has used his/her privilege and stayed in the Philippines for one year, he/she may apply for an extension of stay for multiples of two months up to one additional year by paying the appropriate fees at the nearest Bureau of Immigration office.

First, what is “Balikbayans”? – any overseas Filipino returning to the Philippines, including former Filipinos who have acquired foreign citizenship.
The Philippines’ BALIKBAYAN PROGRAM allows a one-year visa-free stay for Filipinos working overseas and for former Filipinos who have acquired citizenship in certain countries (refer to list of countries below). The visa-free stay privilege is extended to the balikbayan’s non-Filipino spouse and children, on the two conditions that (1) they enter the Philippines with the balikbayan and (2) they are citizens of a country listed below. Former Filipino balikbayans traveling to the Philippines are advised to bring either their old Philippine passport or a copy of Philippine birth certificate as proof of their former Philippine citizenship. Accompanying family members of the balikbayan can bring appropriate supporting documents:
  • For the spouse: copy of the marriage certificate
  • For each child: copy of birth certificate
  • For adopted children: copy of adoption papers

Philippine Law (R.A. 9174) provides benefits to balikbayans:

  • 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.

EXTENSION OF STAY

Visitors who are admitted as balikbayan are given an initial stay of one (1) year. Their stay may be extended for an additional one (1), two (2) or six (6) months at the Visa Extension Section of a Bureau of the immigration office. Balikbayans who have stayed in the Philippines after thirty-six (36) months may be required to submit additional requirements.

Monkey DividersCOUNTRIES COVERED BY THE BALIKBAYAN PROGRAM

Former Filipinos who have acquired citizenship from a country listed below can avail of the one-year visa-free balikbayan stay. If the country of citizenship is not listed, the balikbayan must apply for a Philippine visa.

The non-Filipino spouse and dependent children of a former Filipino can avail of the one-year visa-free balikbayan stay if their passport is issued by a country listed below. If the country of passport is not listed, the spouse or dependent children must apply for a Philippine visa.

Andorra Greece Panama
Angola Grenada Papua New Guinea
Antigua and Barbuda Guatemala Paraguay
Argentina Guinea Peru
Australia Guinea Bissau Poland
Austria Guyana Portugal
Bahamas Haiti Qatar
Bahrain Honduras Republic of Korea
Barbados Hungary Romania
Belgium Iceland Russia
Belize Indonesia Rwanda
Benin Ireland Saint Kitts and Nevis
Bhutan Israel Saint Lucia
Bolivia Italy Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Botswana Jamaica Samoa
Brazil Japan San Marino
Brunei Darussalam Kazakhstan Sao Tome and Principe
Bulgaria Kenya Saudi Arabia
Burkina Faso Kiribati Senegal
Burundi Kuwait Seychelles
Cambodia Kyrgyzstan Singapore
Cameroon Lao People’s Democratic Republic Slovak Republic
Canada Latvia Slovenia
Cape Verde Lesotho Solomon Islands
Central African Republic Liberia South Africa
Chad Liechtenstein Spain
Chile Lithuania Suriname
Colombia Luxembourg Swaziland
Comoros Madagascar Sweden
Congo Malawi Switzerland
Costa Rica Malaysia Tajikistan
Cote d’Ivoire Maldives Thailand
Croatia Mali Togo
Cyprus Malta Trinidad and Tobago
Czech Republic Marshall Islands Tunisia
Democratic Republic of the Congo Mauritania Turkey
Denmark Mauritius Turkmenistan
Djibouti Mexico Tuvalu
Dominica Micronesia Uganda
Dominican Republic Monaco United Arab Emirates
Ecuador Mongolia United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
El Salvador Morocco United Republic of Tanzania
Equatorial Guinea Mozambique United States of America
Eritrea Myanmar Uruguay
Estonia Namibia Uzbekistan
Ethiopia Nepal Vanuatu
Fiji Netherlands Vatican
Finland New Zealand Venezuela
France Nicaragua Vietnam
Gabon Niger Zambia
Gambia Norway Zimbabwe
Germany Oman
Ghana Palau

Monkey Dividers

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Comments 57

  1. I am a Fil mother marries to a Malaysian and we have 2 kids born in Malaysia..sometime in 2000 i brought my kids to philippines and stay for good to escape my abusive husband. My sons are 23 and 22 now..they still hold malaysian passports and are now expired. I never renewed their visa..what are the consequences? I reallu dont know what to do.

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  2. HI Kach ,
    Thanks for your blog this is very helpful 🙂
    Me and my Husband ( polish ) and 2 kids ( Polish citizen ). Is planning to visit next year to Philippines for longer time let say 1 year , since they can be granted the BB visa. My question is do we need to book a return ticket ?if we are not really sure how long we will stay in that 1 year period? . And if for example 1 year is finished , can we travel out of Philippines for let’s say 3 days in HongKong then travel back to Philippines and avail this free BB visa again ? .

    My husband also travel often , so if he get out of Philippines , this 1 yr bb visa will not be valid anymore, right. How if me and him travel outside Philippines for few days and go back to Philippines , will he again avail d BB visa ?
    Thank you for your response in advance . It will be highly appreciated

    1. Hi, let me help you with your questions.

      1. About the ticket. yes! Its Ok not to book a returned ticket yet as you don’t know until when you will stay in the Philippines. Also, you may acquire your children a Philippine Passport like what I did to my kid. So they can stay in the Philippines as they like and if there are changing in visa ruling in the future, they may not be affected as they hold a Philippine passport.

      2. Your family is planning to travel to Hongkong and return again in the Philippines? yes! they will surely get a BB visa. We travel as well in Indonesia for two weeks and returned to the Philippines, my wife gets a BB visa again.

      3. Husband travelling a lot? My wife too as she is travelling back and forth in the Philippines without me but with my kid and she gets a BB visa for 1 year.

      Hope it helps. God Bless!

  3. Hello,
    I just came back from a trip to Malaysia with my US citizen husband. We applied for a Balikbayan visa for him.
    After we are left the immigration booth, I checked my husband’s passport.
    There is no “BB” written, just the arrival date, but there is also no departure date.
    He did tell us that my husband is good to stay for one year.

    I read somewhere that they don’t write the “BB” anymore, but enter it to their computer system instead.

    For those who JUST got their BB stamps, did they also just put the arrival date without the “BB”?

    Thanks!
    E.B.

  4. Thought I’d share my experience since I couldn’t find any definite answer on my exact situation.
    I was staying long-term with my wife who is a citizen of the Philippines. We had our honeymoon in Japan for just 2 weeks and returned together with our Marriage certificate in hand.
    I was granted the 1 year balikbayan stamp no problem.
    We were worried maybe because she was a citizen and only left for 2 weeks, they may not grant it.
    No problem at all.

    Good luck all who are seeking the balikbayan privilege.

    1. Any idea if we were married in the philippines I’m Australian shes a philipin national then went out of country and then retured as you did would this still apply.

    2. Thanks for sharing this; I’m getting married there and it’s been a big question if the BB visa would be given to me if we leave for honeymoon then come back, similar to you.

  5. Good day, i have a balikbayan relative who enter philippines last march 2012 and is too old to travel back and stayed here in the philippines since then. now, the country where she came from is looking for her regarding her pension benefits. i know how much her penalty is before leaving the philippines. is it possible to apply a dual citizenship to avoid the penalty?

  6. My husband is still in pi. Im an american citizen who been going to pi since 1999. My first husband and i were married in pi in 2001. We divoced in 2017 and i remarried last march. My husband was just diagnosed with cancer and i need to go be with him. Is there a special visa? Can i get it while im there at the BI?

  7. I am going to potentially marry my LGBT filipino spouse, gay relationship in the UK embassy next year. Would we be able to able to avail of Balikbayan privilege by presenting our marriage certificate at immigration together on return from a travel?

    This never seems to have been TESTED at all, there seems to be no gay marriages performed in the phils but also nothing specifically saying they are illegal either. Would it be down to the decision of the individual Immigration Officer? I am curious as to how this would work, if it would work.

  8. Hello,Kindly advice me again regarding this Balikbayan Visa Privilages.I am now a US Citizen and plan to visit my Family until January 2019,what are the types of documentation do i had to present at the BI upon my arrival to the Phils.,My flight will be this coming Sept.10,2018 and my husband had purchased a roundtrip ticket for my return next year in the States.Is there any fees,once i show the required documentations?

    Thank you and i will be waiting on your reply.

  9. Hello, I am in PH with my filipina wife on a 1 year Balikbayan visa. I need to go to USA ( I am a USA citizen) for a weekend business meeting. Can I go and return without her with me. We have only been here about a month on the Balikbayan visa.

    thanks

  10. Hello Kach,

    Thanks for posting this very informative stuff. Just looking for some information, Me, my husband and son went for holiday last March to April this year in the Philippines. Unfortunately, my son want to stay longer in the Philippines and decided to study there.

    He is Filipino-british passport holder but he doesn’t have his Filipino passport at the moment as it was expired last yr. He only have british passport. Does he need to exit before his balikbayan visa expired? but we’re planning to get him a Filipino passport next month.. thanks in advance for the response.x

  11. Hello, I have a question about process of leaving PH.

    My husband was given a BB or Balikbayan Visa, We are now about to leave after staying in PH for 8 months. Does he need to apply for the ACR I-Card and Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC) that he needs to present in the airport upon leaving the country.

    I have read some articles mentioning these 2 items when a “foreigner stayed for more than 6 months in PH”, that they need to show these documents.

    Thanks in advance.
    Kathy

  12. I have a balikbayan visa, exited and returned with my wife last year. We are preparing to leave again (it’s been about a year) and return again: do I beforehand need to get permission from the BI to leave the country? I had to do so last time, but I was here on a tourist visa, now I have BB visa.

    1. Hi Steve,

      Have you found an answer to this question? My husband is also on the same scenario, we are now on our 8th month and about to leave PH, I have read about the ECC and ACR I-Card but mostly for foreigners on tourist visas.

      Kindly post here if you have answers.

      Thanks,
      Kathy

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        No, he doesn’t need it because the Balikbayan visa is an exemption for the spouse of a Filipino citizen.. your husband automatically got a 1 year visa. So no exit permit or clearance is needed.

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  13. Hello,
    I want to ask my mother is US citizen former Filipino citizen , she is going home next week to the Philippines.
    I only bought her a one way ticket because she does not know what month she wants to come back to the US, as long as it doesn’t exceed one year, will she be allowed entry to Philippines? or should I get her a return ticket? Airlines now does not allow open ticket.

    Thanks,
    Analin

  14. Hello just asking po pwedi po ba mag stay ang mga anak ko sa pinas with me my husband is turkish national but he is dead in jan. 25 2018 and I planing to go Philippines with my kids and they are continue there studying they are have 2 passport turkish and Philippines passport they are both born in riyadh saudi arabia and now im here in Turkey with my kids can you give me an advice what I we do I planned to leave as soon as possible going to Philippines with my kids school pls thank you so much
    god bless

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    2. Hi! my kid is also a dual citizen and born in Riyadh Saudi Arabia. yes! definitely, your kids can stay in the Philippines. basta pag submit mo ang phils passport ng kids mo sa immigration counter, submit mo din ag turkeys passport nila para pag lumabas sila ng pinas hindi sila magbabayad ng travel tax kc dual citizen sila like my kid.

  15. I too have been looking for information about a longer stay in the Philippines.
    And reading through all the questions and answers , I got my own answered.
    Thank you very much for the great service you are providing to help us all.

  16. Hello ,,,, just need advice ,,,,,, my husband came last year september 15, 2017, and he plan to go back to uk this september 10, this year ,,, when he arrives in cebu last september his passport stamp have one month stay allowed,,,, we were confident he can stay in philipiines for a year as he is married to me…. Coz last 2016 when i and my husband had a holiday in honkong and arrives in philippines together the emiggration officer told us he is allowed to stay for ayear and he got a 1 year free stay stamp,,,,,, but that year he stays for 2 months only,,,,,, as i saw some of the comment here , that need the wife on arrival so that can get the one year visa free ,, we are now unsure,,,,,,,, I’ll be going with him to send him in cebu airport just for incase they will ask and bring some documents like our passports and marriage contract,,,,,,does it help? Or he might still facing fenalties ? Thanks hope to hear from you soon,,,,,,

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      Did he enter the Philippines with you on Sept 15, 2017? If yes, then they’ll automatically stamp him the 1 year visa but if he only traveled on his own then sad to say he’s already considered overstaying and will be paying penalties.

  17. Very informative post, thanks!
    I´m wondering about this (maybe it’s because of my poor English):
    “Visitors who are admitted as balikbayan are given an initial stay of one (1) year. Their stay may be extended for an additional one (1), two (2) or six (6) months at the Visa Extension Section of a Bureau of immigration office. Balikbayans who have stayed in the Philippines after thirty six (36) months may be required to submit additional requirements.”

    As I understand, it means I (Swedish Citizen) can stay for one year and extend maximum 6 months. This means that I can stay for a total of18 months. What do they mean “after 36 months”? Does it mean that the 6 month extension can be given muliple times?

    Regards / Antonio

  18. Hello, my wife and I acquired foreign citizenship but we are planning to visit the Philippines at least twice a year with a total stay of 6 months. Can the balikbayan visa program still apply to us or do we need to apply for the re-aquisition of our Philippine citizenship.

    Thank you.

  19. Can i use a copy of the Marriage Contract and can my wife not be with me? i am flying to visit her for the year before going back to work. please help i leave in early May. Thanks so much.

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  20. Hi, do we need to go to the Philippine embassy to avail this balikbayan program? I’m here in California. If so, what are the requirements? Thank you!?

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  21. Hi, this coming June my husband, son and I will be traveling home. I have dual citizenship. My husband and son are foreign nationals. My son 28 yrs old has disability and planing to stay with me and live in my home town. Do he have to obtain visa here. Or I can ask for BB for both husband & son?

  22. Hi,
    So i have entered the country using my british passport before I realised i only have 29 days to stay. We intend to stay for a year or so, so start reading online on ways how to extend and then i found your blog.

    Two questions:
    The officer upon presenting my uk passport asked for my ph passport, does it mean that he gave me a balikbayan visa?

    If not, can i still apply for it even i have left the airport already?

    Thank you for this informative blog. Really helped alot.

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  23. Hi, my balikbayan visa expires feb 12 -2018 I have a ticket to fly out on the 9th of feb. Can I board a flight the following day and start my 12 month stay again?

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  24. Hello,

    Great article and thank you. Does this allow the spouse to engage in any activity other than tourism such as finding a job, or is it purely for social visit only?
    Selamat

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  25. Hi,
    Does anybody know whether a Balikbayan visa is a “multiple entry” visa? I have tried to find the answer to this but I have never seen it answered anywhere.
    What I mean is this: If I return to Philippines together with my Filipino spouse (we have been married 24 years and lived in Saudi Arabia for many years), then I believe I can get a Balikbayan visa at that time. But my question is about what happens next time I leave the Philippines and then return? Does my one-year Balikbayan visa remain valid when I leave so that I can enter again on the same one-year visa? Or is it the case that the visa becomes void once I exit Philippines?
    So can I re-enter on the same Balikbayan visa or does my spouse need to be travelling with me each time I exit and re-enter?
    I travel very frequently back and forth to Philippines but my spouse is not always with me when I re-enter.

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        1. Hi Kach, thought I’d reply to this comment as I have a similar situation.

          My mother was born Filipino but has British citizenship, my father is British and I am British. We normally go to Cebu in October, which is fine because I can avail the BB stamp when travelling with her, but I would like to stay a little longer. You mentioned above that if someone like me is to leave the Philippines (after receiving the BB stamp) and re-enter, the BB stamp no longer counts and it would be the standard 30 days.

          My question is, what would be the best option for me? Would it be easier for me to apply for a 6 month visa (once I’m there) given that I am half filipino by blood OR should I go down the dual citizen route? Or is there another option?

          I know I definitely want to travel in that period, as the idea behind my trip was that I’d be so much closer to other south east asian countries so the Philippines would act as a bit of a home-base.

          My worry is that if I go with the first option, I’d be travelling on a one-way ticket and may not be allowed to board because I wouldn’t have proof of an onward journey. My other option is to book all the trips to other south east asian countries roughly 30 days apart in advance – but taking into account other costs such as accommodation, this might get expensive to do all at once!

          Thanks for your help, and I hope my question helps someone else!

  26. Hi guys,
    I have a question regarding this subject. What if one of the children is planning to stay longer in the Phillipines than the Filipino citizen? For example Child, Belgian nationality, and Mother, Philippine nationality, travel to the Philippines. The Mother stays for 6 weeks, but the child stays for 8 weeks. Is the Balikbayan still valid for those 2 remaining weeks if the mother is already out of the Philippines?

    Regards,
    Steve

    1. Yes. My wife , kids and I arrive together and each get the BB exemption and leave at different times as we have different work/school commitments. Never creates a problem. So long as you leave before the 1 year expiration date in your passport they don’t track who came into the country with you.

  27. hello, my wife is a Filipino and I’m a foreigner. we are planning to visit the Philippines; however my wife has not yet finished one year outside Philippines. Would she be counted as a balikbayan if she did not yet finished one year abroad, and do I need a visa as foreigner if I’m traveling with her to Philippines?

    Thanks

  28. Hi. Thank you for posting this. I was in the Philippines last May 2017 with my husband and I’m planning to return in April 2018 with my baby for a 5-month vacation. I am worried that they might not issue a balikbayan stamp for my baby because it is less than a year that I’m out of the Philippines. Do you think it will be okay? I’ve been living in the UK since September 2016. Thank you in advance! ? Hoping to hear from you soon.

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  29. Very helpful post. Thanks.
    However do this regulation still applies.?
    a Filipino citizen who has been continuously out of the Philippines for a period of at least one year.

    I was in Ph last Feb 2017. My newborn son, husband and I will come back in Ph this coming December. I am afraid they will not issue balikbayan stamp since it is less than a year I am out of ph. Thank you in advance for your response. 🙂

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  30. Hi Kach,

    Thank you for posting this. My husband has enjoyed this one-year visa-free balikbayan stay stamp on his passport every time we go for a vacation and he comes home with me. I tailgate behind him (hehehe) at the immigration counter and present a copy of our marriage certificate to get the visa-free stay without questions from the immigration officer.

    I’m glad I found your blog. I’ve long been wanting to start a travel blog and to live a life of travel so you are an inspiration to say the least.

  31. Good job Kach, I would emphasize you must travel together and I recommend going thru the customs counters together too! My wife once chose a different counter than me and the agent didn’t want to stamp me “balikbayan”!

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