THE BALIKBAYAN PRIVILEGE (R.A.6768 as amended)
By legal definition, a Balikbayan is:
1. A Filipino citizen who has been continuously out of the Philippines for a period of at least 1 year;
2. A Filipino overseas worker; or
3. A former Filipino citizen and his or her family, who had been naturalized in a foreign country and comes or returns to the Philippines.
• The “Balikbayan Privilege” may be availed of by foreign family members of all 3 classifications provided that they travel together everytime they enter the country (MEMORANDUM dated July 1, 2008 issued by Atty. Edgardo L. Mendoza, Chief, IRD).
• “FAMILY” shall mean the spouse and the children of the Balikbayan who are not Balikbayan in their own right traveling with the latter to the Philippines. (Section 2 (b) of R.A. no. 9174, amending R.A. 6768, entitled: “An Act Instituting a “BALIKBAYAN PROGRAM”, by providing Additional Benefits and Privileges to Balikbayan and for other purposes”).
• Correspondingly, all Balikbayans 14 years and below and 60 years of age shall be allowed to extend their temporary visitor visa under Section 9a of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 as amended, for a maximum period of 6 months for every extension PROVIDED that all appropriate fees are paid. Thus, Balikbayans are allowed a maximum total stay of 2 years inclusive of all extensions. (MEMORANDUM ORDER NO. ADD – 02 – 011 dated 11 February 2002).
Benefits of Balikbayan visa
Balikbayans – can stay in the Philippines without a visa for a period of one year. The balikbayan visa-free stay privilege is extended to the balikbayan’s non-Filipino spouse and children, provided they enter the Philippines with the balikbayan.
Former Filipino balikbayans traveling to the Philippines are advised to bring either their old Philippine passport or copy of Philippine birth certificate as proof of their former Philippine citizenship. Accompanying family members of the balikbayan can 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
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.