If You Are A Filipino Seeking To Work Overseas, Read This First
Whether you a looking for work abroad or have just been newly hired for a job overseas, there is one important document you must not overlook.
It is the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) which is required by the Philippines government to recognize a Filipino’s status as a legal overseas worker.
Often referred to as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), the last official count puts the figure of Filipinos working abroad at more than 10 million spanning 170 countries.
This astounding figure was reported by the US-based Migration Policy Institute from data compiled by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) since 1970 while more recent statistics by the Philippines Statistics Authority show that in the period of April to September of last year alone, 2.3 million Filipinos have ventured abroad to work.
Despite the relentless growth in number, being an OFW is harder than it already seems.
While the emotional and financial stake is already high, it gets harder for aspiring OFWs as they need to ensure their OEC are in order besides complying with visa documentation in their sponsor country
Not only do these documents entail time, but also money so make sure you do it right to
ensure you can legally come back to the Philippines or fly to your sponsor country.
Following are the key information you must know to ensure smooth processing of your OEC or ‘Balik Manggagawa’ as it is known in the Filipino language.
What is an OEC?
Short for Overseas Employment Certificate. It’s an OFW’s travel exit clearance, which is a proof of being a documented overseas worker. Having this will grant you permission to leave the country not as a tourist but as an overseas worker.
This document is presented at the immigration upon departure and it is only valid for 60 days from the issuance date. Thus, if you’re planning to fly out the country or planning your trip to the Philippines, your exit must fall in that 60-days period.
In a nutshell, an OEC will grant an OFW to the following:
In a nutshell, an OEC will grant an OFW to the following:
Requirements when getting an OEC
While Visa applications can entail tedious paperwork, it doesn’t stop there for OFWs. An OEC is processed separately from your work visa application, thus requiring OFWs to secure a separate set of documents.
- Passport with at least six months validity from departure date
- Valid work visa, work permit, or any equivalent document
- Verified employment contract or offer of employment
- Printed Balik-Manggagawa Information Sheet
Requirements differ for skilled and professional workers, low-skilled workers, and household service workers. OFWs bound for Canada and the United States need to submit additional requirements.
There are two phases of the application, the initial phase which is very profession centered. In this phase, the applicant will be required to submit documents pertaining to their qualification.
Professional and skilled workers
- Company Profile, Business License/Commercial Registration of the employer
- POLO Endorsement Letter addressed to the Administrator seeking exemption from the ban on direct-hiring
Additional country-specific requirements:
Labor Market Opinion (LMO), Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for and Canadian Letter and Employer’s Certificate of Registration from ECON (Province of Saskatchewan Executive Council) or Saskatchewan Immigration Nominee Program (SINP) approval are required from workers to Saskatchewan in lieu of LMO.
Labor Condition Application and Notice of Action
The Middle East and African countries
Contingency plan issued by the employer
Additional documents to support job application:
- Certificate of employment or Business Permit: If self-employed
- Diploma and Transcript of Records (TOR)
- NC II / PRC License
- Curriculum Vitae / Resume
- Proof of certificate of insurance coverage covering at least the benefits provided under
- Section 37-A of RA 8042 as amended;
- Notarized Statement on how the workers secured his/her employment with attached
- photocopy of employer’s passport/ID and contact details
This phase mostly involves local labor law compliance, thus the documents for this phase are from government labor-related agencies.
- Valid Medical Certificate from DOH-accredited medical clinic authorized to conduct
- medical exam for OFWs
- Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar Certificate (PEOS)
- Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) Certificate issued by OWWA
- POEA Clearance (for employers under Section 124d of the POEA Revised Rules &
For a seamless process, bring photocopies of your original documents and arrange them separately according to the POEA list.
OEC fees and charges
|POEA processing fee||₱100 per e-receipt/OEC|
|OWWA membership fee||US$25 (or its Peso equivalent)
|Pag-IBIG contribution||Minimum of ₱100 each month|
|PhilHealth contribution||₱2,400 for one-year coverage|
Who can process the OEC?
Individuals who are hired by an employer overseas through a local agency will only need to compile the documents required as the agency will process OEC for them. However, those who are hired directly by an overseas employer will have to do it themselves through their POEA and OWWA’s offices or through their online portal.
Where to apply for an OEC?
Hired directly by an overseas employer? You’ll need to apply for an OEC by yourself, either as through walk-in or the Balik-Manggagawa (BM) Online System. Here’s where you can lodge your OEC application.
Walk-in application for departing OFWs still in the Philippines
- Compile the documents (whichever is applicable) above.
- Proceed to POEA’s main office at EDSA corner Ortigas Avenue, Mandaluyong City (Balik-Manggagawa Processing Division/BMPD) or at any of their regional offices.
- Labor Assistance Counters at Manila, Cebu, and Mindanao airports (only for returning OFWs who are staying in the Philippines for five days or less)
- Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO) in the country of employment
While the processing time will take half-day to one business day, you can cut it short by booking an appointment online to skip waiting in line.
Online appointment setting for both departing and returning OFWS
- Just log in to the BM online appointment system (http://www.bmonline.ph). Online registration is needed to get on the scheduling system.
- Choose a schedule and venue for processing.
- On your appointment date, submit your documents and two copies of accomplished BM Information Sheet.
- Once POEA approves your application, proceed with paying the required fees and then wait for your new OEC.
How to get an OEC exemption?
Only OFWs who are returning to the same employer or workplace and have a record in the POEA database can be exempted from securing an OEC.
To get an OEC exemption, log in to your BM Online account before your scheduled return to your employer. Then click on “Acquire OEC or Exemption.” If you’re exempted, the system will display a confirmation message with your BM Exemption number and pre-departure instructions on what documents to present at the airport.
Before you leave for another assignment, make sure your finances are in good health and that your family has nothing to worry about financially. However, when dealing with life’s uncertainties and other urgent needs, you can consider these no collateral OFW loans that’s fast and easy to apply for in case of emergencies.