After almost two years since I last went home for a Christmas vacation, I was anticipating to go through another tedious, hellish, and time-consuming government requirements and procedures for OFW’s.
For those who are not aware, OFW’s have to undergo a process called “Balik-Manggagawa” at the POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Agency). A document called Overseas Employment Certificate or OEC has to be secured as an exit clearance to be presented to the Immigration counter at the airport prior to departure from the Philippines.
Why you have to be given permit to leave the country for being on vacation is quite hilarious. But seriously, the OEC’s purposes are:
- As an exit permit/employment certificate issued to OFWs which should be presented to the Immigration counter at the airport prior to departure from the Philippines.
- Proof of payment that a worker has been duly documented by the POEA and has paid the processing fee and OWWA membership contribution.
- Entitles a worker to travel tax exemption and free terminal fee.
- Valid for sixty (60) days only from the date of issuance.
On a surprising note, and unlike the previous years’ procedures, OFW’s now have the option to book an appointment online to avoid long queues of line at the POEA office.
In my case, I booked an appointment for January 15, 2013 but found out from the printed form that I erroneously scheduled it on January 14, 2013.
I was worried that the POEA counter officials will deny the processing of my documents since it’s already January 15 and the scheduled appointment in my Balik-Manggagawa form is January 14.
So I just kept myself quiet, composed and observed if they will ask me to fill out a manual form instead. But surprisingly, they accepted the form and processed my OEC without comments. Which proved that the online booking/appointment is not really linked in their system as I saw the counter staff encoding the details in my form again in her computer.
But what a relief for me! I finished the OEC process in less than 20 minutes!
Another good thing about online appointment is that you can choose where to process your OEC and the offices include, hold your breath, SM Manila and Trinoma! Shopping shopping pagkatapos ha.
To apply for an appointment, go to the BM Appointment website.
NOTE: Word has it that Philippine Labor and Employment has announced that the new BM online program will soon let OFW’s around the world to complete their OEC transactions via the Internet. The Balik Manggagawa online system needs only to proceed to pay the fees electronically and print out the OEC either in the comfort of their homes or wherever they are conducting the on-line transaction. So watch out for this!”
Reduced Travel Tax at the Department of Tourism/TIEZA
OFW’s are exempted from paying travel taxes. However, if an OFW travels with his/her dependents to the country of work, he/she has to pay for their travel taxes but on a discounted or reduced rate.
After finishing the OEC process at the POEA, we drove all the way to the Department of Tourism office in Manila only to find out the they have transferred to Makati.
I believe the TIEZA (Tourism Infrastracture and Enterprise Zone Authority) should do more information dissemination such as coordinating POEA in informing OFW’s about this development.
Anyway, there’s a lot of improvement as well in this agency. A better air-conditioned office, and people can now pay the fees using a debit card. Medyo mabagal lang ang signatory at naghintay ako ng more than 30 minutes. Kaya kung pwede lang pakibilisan next time, okay, TIEZA?
Just visit TIEZA’s website to know the procedures in applying for reduced travel taxes at the TIEZA so you won’t have to go through the long lines at the airport for this.
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P.S. 1. Bro. Bo Sanchez has appointed me as a coach for our young and new investors at the TrulyRichClub social site. It’s a fun, learning family with the purpose of “helping good people become rich”. I’m inviting you to join the TrulyRichClub too and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. Click here to join!
P.S. 2. I will be speaking at UP Diliman today for an event called “SAFE THAN SORRY:
An Advice on Life Insurance & Security of the People’s Future” organized by the UP Phi Delta Alpha Sorority for their Alternative Classroom Learning Experience or ACLE. Thank you Ms. Marie Marasigan of UP Phi Delta Alpha Sorority for this opportunity to share!
Photo credit: POEA, Paulo Ordoveza
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