FAQs on the Balikbayan Program
The Balikbayan Program of the Philippines (Republic Act 6768 as amended by Republic Act 9174) was enacted to attract and encourage overseas Filipinos, including former Filipinos, to visit the Philippines. The program was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 pursuant to Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) Resolution No. 14 dated 20 March 2020. It was reinstated on 01 April 2022 pursuant to Amended IATF Resolution No. 165 dated 24 March 2022 that provided for the relaxation of Philippine border restrictions.
1. Who are eligible under Balikbayan Program?
a. The term “Balikbayan” shall apply to the following:
- A Filipino citizen who has been continuously out of the Philippines for a period of at least one (1) year;
- A Filipino overseas worker; or
- A former Filipino citizen and his/her family who have been naturalized in a foreign country and come or return to the Philippines.
b. Immediate family members (spouse and children) of the Balikbayan who are nationals of countries falling under Executive Order No. 408 and traveling together with the Balikbayan.
2. What are the privileges of a Balikbayan?
The Balikbayan and his/her immediate family members are entitled to the following:
a. Tax- exempt maximum purchase in the amount of one thousand five hundred United States dollars (US$ 1,500.00) or its equivalent in Philippine peso and in other foreign currencies at all government-owned and -controlled/operated duty-free shops subject to the limitations contained in Section 4 of RA 9174;
b. Special promotions/incentive programs established by Philippine domestic carriers;
c. Visa-free entry to the Philippines for a period of one (1) year for foreign passport holders, with the exception of restricted nationals;
d. Travel tax exemption as provided under Presidential Decree No, 1183, Executive Order No.283, and other allied laws;
e. Especially designated reception areas at the authorized ports of entry for the expeditious processing of documents;
f. Accredited transportation facilities organized by The Department of Tourism, the Department of Transportation and Communications, and other concerned government agencies; and
g. Kabuhayan shopping privilege and additional tax-exempt purchase in the maximum amount of two thousand United States dollars (US$ 2,000.00) or its equivalent in Philippine peso and other acceptable foreign currencies exclusive for the purchase of livelihood tools at all government-owned and -controlled/operated duty-free shops.
3. What do I need to present to the Philippine Immigration Officer to avail myself of the visa-free privilege for Balikbayan?
Former Filipinos returning as Balikbayans may enter the Philippines without a visa and stay for a period of one (1) year provided that they have the following:
- Passport valid for 6 months beyond the intended stay in the Philippines;
- Round-trip ticket; and
- Proof of former Philippine citizenship (e.g., old Philippine passport or PSA-authenticated birth certificate). Please note that a foreign passport indicating “Philippines” as your place of birth is not sufficient proof of your previous Filipino citizenship;
Former Filipinos who are admitted as Balikbayans may extend their stay for up to one (1), two (2) or six (6) months provided that they present their valid passport and accomplished visa extension form to the Visa Extension Section in the Bureau of Immigration Main Office or any BI Office in the Philippines. Additional requirements will be asked of those who have stayed in the Philippines after 36 months.
4. Can a foreigner spouse or child of a Balikbayan avail themselves of the visa-free privilege when traveling to the Philippines alone?
A foreign national spouse and/or child of a Balikbayan may only be given the said privilege if he/she is traveling with his/her Balikbayan spouse or parent.
5. What are the appropriate supporting documents to show evidence of relationship:
- For the spouse: copy of marriage certificate (indicating the balikbayan as spouse)
- For each child: copy of birth certificate (indicating the balikbayan as a parent)
- For adopted children: copy of adoption papers (indicating the balikbayan as adoptive parent)