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.”
In addition to other privileges, under the program, no visa shall be required for a maximum stay of one (1) year for the following, every time they enter the country to visit, regardless of the frequency of their travel:
• A former Filipino citizen with foreign passport and members of his/her family. The term “family” shall mean the spouse and minor children of the balikbayan (who are not balikbayan in their own right) who are travelling to the Philippines with the balikbayan;
• A Filipino citizen who has been continuously out of the Philippines for a period of at least one (1) year from the date of last departure and their families; or
• A Filipino overseas worker.
What are the documents to be presented to show proof of BALIKBAYAN status?
The traveller has to declare before the Philippine Immigration Officer at the port of entry that he/she is availing of the privilege and has to present the following documents:
1. For former Filipino citizens with foreign passport, you need to present your foreign passport and any of the following:
• Birth certificate or cancelled Philippine passport;
• Naturalization papers to show former Filipino citizenship; or
• Certification issued by the adoptive country that the individual is a former Filipino citizen.
2. For Filipino citizens who have been continuously out of the country, you would need to show your Philippine passport showing date of last departure.
Who else can avail of the BALIKBAYAN Program?
The balikbayan privilege is extended to families of former Filipino citizens and families of Filipino citizens (i.e. foreign spouse and minor unmarried children) provided that:
• They are travelling together with the balikbayan, pay immigration fees, and observe and comply with immigration rules and regulations. In addition to showing their foreign passport, a family member must present:
• A Birth Certificate (with English translation) or Report of Birth filed at the Embassy, in case of children;
• A Marriage Certificate (with English translation) or Report of Marriage filed at the Embassy, in case of spouse; and
• Adoption papers (proof of adoption) in case of legally adopted children.
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.