Balikbayan Program

Image of queue at NAIA

The Balikbayan Program as instituted by Republic Act 6768 (amended by Republic Act 9174) was launched by the Philippine Government to attract and encourage overseas Filipinos to come and visit their motherland. This is in recognition of their contribution to the economy of the country through the foreign exchange inflow and revenues that they generate.

The program allows visa-free entry to the Philippines for a period of one (1) year for the following:

  1. A Filipino citizen who has been continuously out of the Philippines for a period of at least one (1) year
  2. A Filipino overseas worker
  3. A former Filipino citizen who had been naturalized in one of the following countries and who comes or returns to the Philippines:
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

The Balikbayan Program also extends to immediate family members (spouse and children) of the Balikbayan, who are nationals of one of the countries above, and travelling together with the Balikbayan. 

Former Filipinos and/or their immediate family who are nationals of countries not found on the list will need to secure a visa before going to the Philippines. Please see the requirements for a visa here.

Balikbayans traveling to the Philippines are advised to declare before the Philippine Immigration Officer at the port of entry that he/she is availing of the privilege and has to present either their old Philippine passport or copy of Philippine birth certificate as proof of their former Philippine citizenship.

Accompanying family members of the balikbayan should bring appropriate supporting documents:

  • For the spouse: copy of marriage certificate
  • For each child: copy of birth certificate
  • For adopted children: copy of adoption papers

Aside from visa-free entry to the Philippines, 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.

For more information:
http://www.gov.ph/official-gazette/2002/11/07/republic-act-no-9174
http://www.immigration.gov.ph/faqs/visa-inquiry/balikbayan-previlege