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Philippines Travel Tips

Make the most of your trip to the Philippines with our useful Philippines travel tips, as well as our list of top-rated destinations, best attractions, and things to do while you are on a holiday in the country.

Balikbayan Visa

Balikbayan Visa

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Before planning your trip, you often ask if you need any kind of visa to enter the Philippines. In this post, we will discuss the Balikbayan Visa, a type of visa for entry in the Philippines.

The Balikbayan Visa program was instituted by Republic Act 6768 (amended by Republic Act 9174), and under this program, the following are considered balikbayans:

  • A Filipino citizen who has been constantly out of the Philippines for at least one year

  • A Filipino overseas worker

  • A former Filipino citizen who had been naturalized in specific countries (listed below) who comes or returns to the Philippines. 

The foreign spouse of a Filipino or Filipina, who enters together with his or her spouse, receives an entry into the Philippines on presentation of the marriage contract a Balikbayan stamp in the passport. 

Conditions are, thus, the common entry and the presentation of the marriage contract (the marriage contract must be in English, or be translated into English).

The Balikbayan visa is free of charge and does not have to be applied for before. Only tell the official at the entry, and you get the stamp.
bag with Philippine passport in the pocket

Benefits of the Balikbayan Visa Program

The Philippines’ BALIKBAYAN PROGRAM allows a one-year visa-free stay for former Filipinos who have acquired citizenship in specific countries (the list provided below).

The visa-free stay privilege is extended to the balikbayan’s non-Filipino spouse and children, on the two conditions, as follows:

  1. They enter the Philippines with the balikbayan

  2. They are citizens of a specific country

Former Filipino balikbayans who are traveling to the Philippines are advised to declare  that they are availing of the privilege before the Immigration Officer at the port of entry. They must bring either their old Philippine passport or copy of Philippine birth certificate as proof of their former Philippine citizenship.

In addition, the balikbayan’s accompanying family members can bring applicable supporting documents to show evidence of relationship:

  • A copy of the marriage certificate, for the spouse. 

  • A copy of the birth certificate, indicating the balikbayan as a parent, for each child

  • For the adopted children: a copy of the adoption papers

For foreign nationals, having the Balikbayan visa stamp in your passport means you can stay in the Philippines for one year, and save the costs for the extension of your visa and the two-month visits to the immigration office.

Besides the visa-free entry to the country, the Philippine Law (R.A. 9174) provides benefits to Balikbayans:

Tax exemption on purchases of maximum USD 1,500, or the equivalent in Philippine and other currency, at Philippine Government–operated duty-free shops, as well as exemption from Travel Tax, provided that their stay in the country is one year or less.

If your stay in the Philippines, however,  exceeds one year, then the Travel tax will apply. If a balikbayan has taken advantage of his/her privilege and stayed in the country for one year, he/she may apply for an extension of stay for an additional one, two, or six months by paying the appropriate fees at the nearest office of the Bureau of Immigration.
three passports with Philippine flag

List of Countries Covered by the Balikbayan Visa Program

  • Andorra
  • Angola
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bahamas
  • Bahrain
  • Barbados
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Benin
  • Bhutan
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Bulgaria
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cambodia
  • Cameroon
  • Canada
  • Cape Verde
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Comoros
  • Congo
  • Costa Rica
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Denmark
  • Djibouti
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Eritrea
  • Estonia
  • Ethiopia
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • France
  • Gabon
  • Gambia
  • Germany
  • GhanaPalau
  • Greece
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Guinea
  • Guinea Bissau
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Kiribati
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Lao People’s Democratic Republic
  • Latvia
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Mali
  • Malta
  • Marshall Islands
  • Mauritania
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Micronesia
  • Monaco
  • Mongolia
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Myanmar
  • Namibia
  • Nepal
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • Niger
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Palau
  • Panama
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Qatar
  • Republic of Korea
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Rwanda
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Samoa
  • San Marino
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal
  • Seychelles
  • Singapore
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Suriname
  • Swaziland
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Tajikistan
  • Thailand
  • Togo
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • Tuvalu
  • Uganda
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • United Republic of Tanzania
  • United States of America
  • Uruguay
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vanuatu
  • Vatican
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe