The Balikbayan Program, as instituted by Republic Act No. 6768 (amended by Republic Act 9174), was launched by the Philippine Government “under the administration of the Department of Tourism 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 that they generate.”

In a nutshell, the programme allows Filipinos, former Filipinos AND their non-Filipino spouses and children to come to the Philippines without a visa for a period of 12 months. The 12-month period can then be extended.

Detail of the programme

Who falls under the BALIKBAYAN Program?

By legal definition, a balikbayan is:

  • 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;
  • A Filipino overseas worker; or
  • A former Filipino citizen with foreign passport and members of his/her family. The term “family” shall mean the spouse and the children of the balikbayan (who are not balikbayan in their own right) who are travelling to the Philippines with the balikbayan.

What are the documents to be presented to show proof of BALIKBAYAN status?

  • For Filipino citizens who have been continuously out of the country, you would need to show your Philippine passport showing date of last departure;
  • For former Filipino citizens with foreign passport, you need to present your foreign passport and any of the following:-   Previous Philippine passport;
    –   Foreign Naturalization papers to show former Filipino citizenship; or
    –   Certification issued by the Embassy or Consulate of the adoptive country that the             individual is a former Filipino citizen.

Who else can avail of the BALIKBAYAN Program?

Family members of the balikbayan can go to the Philippines without having to apply for a visa, provided they are travelling together with the balikbayan, pay immigration fees, and observe and comply with immigration rules and regulations.  In addition to showing their foreign passport, a family member must present:

  • A Birth Certificate (with English translation), in case of children;
  • A Marriage Certificate (with English translation), in case of spouse.


Immigration regulations are complex and subject to regular change. Before travelling to a country, always check the latest immigration and visa requirements from the authorities direct. The information provided in these pages is for informative purposes only and may not be up to date, applicable to your personal circumstances, or may not even be correct.

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