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 foreign passport holders, with the exception of visa-required nationals.
The term "balikbayan" shall mean
- 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 together 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
- A Filipino overseas worker
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.