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

By Kach Umandap - Howe September 9th, 2016 Posted in Inspiration and Love Stories, Philippines 99 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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99 thoughts on “One year Visa-free Balikbayan Stay in the Philippines for the Foreign Spouse/ Children of Filipino Citizens

  1. Hi i would like to ask if i do need to get a balikbayan visa for my child who is an australian citizen? I forgot to tell the immigration officer in naia that we will stay here for 6months. We are already here in the Phil. Thanks.

  2. I am currently in the Philippines on a BB stamp. My question is, if we exit the country say to S. Korea for a 5 day vacation, and come back to Philippines, will my BB stamp continue, or can I get restamped with a new BB stamp? Thanks in advance.

  3. Hello.. I would like to ask what a bout Yemen passport holder who is married to a filipina is there any special visa for him? To come and go to Philippines ?
    I look forward to you prompt reply.
    Thank you

  4. Just make sure I understand. My spouse is dual citizenship ( US and pH). She is currently in the Philippines for long stay. I want to travel there and stay there for least six months. What documents do I need besides my passport?

  5. I believe that if you have a Balikbayan you don’t need an exit clearance to leave the Philippines. If you extend your Balikbayan as permitted can you still leave without an exit clearance?

  6. Sono cittadino italiano, sposato con cittadina filippina.. Sono entrato inizio maggio con mia moglie e hanno messo il timbro per Balikbayan. Ripartirò in settembre ma senza la moglie.. Posso avere problemi o sono in conformità alla regola?

  7. Very useful post about this little known program. It’s a great thing the Philippines offers to former citizens and their family members, and should be promoted more within the expat community, and with other airline carriers (besides Philippine Airlines / Cebu Pacific) so that travelers on other carriers who meet that requirement are not hassled by airline staff if they demonstrate proof of documentation.

    Another items to clarify for some may be that the Balikbayan status (not visa) is allowed EACH time the former citizen arrives with the accompanying family members, regardless of number of entries and exits per year. The confusion arises, I think, because the added tax-free exemption for duty free shopping is once per year. Here is the quote from the Philippines’ Los Angeles Consulate website:

    “The Commissioner of Immigration Andrea D. Domingo informed the Department of Foreign Affairs on 4 June 2001 that, “All Immigration Officers at authorized ports of entry shall grant the benefits and privileges to all Balikbayan and former Filipinos included every time they enter the country to visit, regardless of their frequent travel”. This means that the above categories of persons could now avail of the Balikbayan benefits and privileges regardless of the number of times they enter the country within a year.”

    Hope this helps others.

    MilesToWander

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Written by Kach Umandap - Howe

Co-Founder of Two Monkeys Travel Group. Since 2013, Kach has visited all the 7 continents (including Antarctica) and 136 countries using her Philippines Passport. In 2016, she got married then a year later bought a sailboat and went on sailing adventures with her two cats - Captain Ahab & Little Zissou in the Caribbean for 2 years. She now lives in Herceg Novi, Montenegro. She writes about her experiences traveling as a Filipina traveler with a PHL Passport. Also tips on backpacking trips, luxury hotel experiences, product reviews, sailing & adventure travel.

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