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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 85 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.


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.


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

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Comments 85

  1. 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.

  2. 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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        1. Short vacation will NOT do. She has to be out of the country at least a year to avail of BB status. She also needs to have a greencard or OFW card.

          1. False! I am a foreigner and my wife is a Filipina. We went from Manila to Japan and Malaysia last year for less than 7 days and when we arrived in Manila, Immigration stamped my passport with a 1 year BB visa. Just show them the marriage certificate and have your spouse with you.

  3. 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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  4. 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?

  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. 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?

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  8. 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.

    1. Post
        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!

          1. Since you are half Filipino, then you are a Filipino. You just need to apply for a Filipino passport in the embassy.


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        They are just calling it Balikbayan visa but you’re correct, it should be Balikbayan Program and NOT visa. The Balikbayan Program, as instituted by Republic Act 6768 (amended by Republic Act 9174),

      1. Yo, Wolfgang I just came into the country with Red 1 year Balikbayan visa. You are wrong. There very much is one.

  9. 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?


    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.

  10. 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?


  11. 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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  12. 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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  13. 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.

  14. 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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