Updated yet again and presented for your information and consideration. Many of you are making the move to the Philippines much harder than it needs to be, Take action in 2013.
Many will recall I have frequently mention the fallacy of spending months of worry, research and even long, expensive trips to Philippine embassies or Consulates involved in getting a permanent resident visa (13(a) or 13(g)) before a couple even comes to live in the Philippines for the first time.
Yes it can be cheaper to get the visa back in the USA, although required trips to the consulate may well eat up any cost advantage.
If a couple is sure that they want their visa arranged before they travel, well fine, nothing at all wrong with doing it that way.
But for many, this seems to be a big hurdle or stumbling block.
Facts Are What Gets In The Way Of Plans
And the facts of the matter are, no one can be sure they are going to like living in the Philippines until they actually have done so. General George Patton is famous for saying something like “The best battle plan ever made survives no longer than the first contact with the enemy”.
Neither does the most intricate and best laid out detailed plan for moving to the Philippines. Ask anyone who has actually done it, rather than just talked about it. Things are different when the actual rubber meets the road.
Visiting and living in hotels and other temporary arrangements are NOT “living in the Philippines”. They are visiting and/or vacationing in the Philippines, and they’re two different things.
My solution, recommend under the heading of the KISS principle, is the Balikbayan Privilege Stamp. It’s free, it is obtained right at the port of entry as the couple arrives, and it’s good for one year.
The original legislation which set up the program has language which stated the privilege could only be availed of for those who had been out of the Philippines for one year or more.
However a presidential order during president GMA’s time remove that restriction.
I have never, though, seen an official declaration that the “one year away” rule no longer applied.
Well, here, thanks to a generous reader (Thanks, Mike) and the Philippine Consulate, Los Angels is the “straight skinny”, up to date and official.:
What is the “Balikbayan Program” of the Philippines under Republic Act (RA) 6768?
The Balikbayan Program of the Philippines was enacted in November 1989 to attract and encourage overseas Filipinos to visit the Philippines.
The following categories of persons can avail of the Balikbayan privilege: (a) 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; (b) a Filipino overseas worker (OFW); (c) a former Filipino citizen who had been naturalized in a foreign country and holds a foreign passport.
A ‘Balikbayan’ is entitled to the following benefits:
(a) Travel Tax exemption
(b) Visa-free entry to the Philippines for a period of one (1) year, for a foreign passport holder;
(c) Duty-free shopping privilege of up to US$2,000.00 (US$1,000.00 as arriving Balikbayan and US$1,000.00 as arriving passenger) provided that:
(i) Shopping must be done within two days upon arrival;
(ii) Duty free shopping privilege can be availed of only one a year; and,
(iii) Purchases must be made personally by the Balikbayan.
The Balikbayan privilege is extendible to legitimate members of the family (i.e., spouse and children) of individuals in the above-mentioned categories, who are holders of foreign passports ONLY IF they are travelling to the Philippines together with the above-mentioned qualified individual.
It can also be availed of by legitimate members of the family (i.e., spouse and children) of individuals in the above-mentioned categories, who are aliens or holders of foreign passports, ONLY IF they are travelling to the Philippines together with the above-mentioned qualified individual.
In order to avail of the privilege, qualified Filipino citizens need to present only their Philippine passports showing the date of last exit from the Philippines, which should not be less than 1 year. Aside from their foreign passports showing date of last exit from the Philippines, former Filipino citizens need to present their old Philippine passport or Philippine birth certificate. In the absence of these documents, they can present foreign naturalization papers to show former Philippine citizenship or certification from adopted country.
Family members of the former Filipino citizen who are travelling with the Balikbayan should present passports and any of the following: a) birth certificate, in case of children; b) marriage certificate, in case of spouse; c) adoption papers, in case of legally adopted children.
The Commissioner of Immigration Andrea D. Domingo informed the Department of Foreign Affairs on 4 June 2001 that,
“All Immigration Officers at authorized ports of entry shall grant the benefits and privileges to all Balikbayan and former Filipinos included every time they enter the country to visit, regardless of their frequent travel”.
This means that the above categories of persons could now avail of the Balikbayan benefits and privileges regardless of the number of times they enter the country within a year.
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Travel Tax Exemption
I heard about the travel tax exemption. Could you please elaborate on this and how could this exemption be availed of?
The following individuals are required by the Philippine Government to pay the Travel Tax (PhP2,700 for first class passage; PhP1,620 for economy class passage) every time they depart the country for an overseas destination:
(a) Filipino citizens
(b) Permanent resident aliens
The following Filipino citizens are exempted from the payment of Travel Tax pursuant to Sec. 2 of PD 1183, as amended:
(a) Filipino overseas contract workers.
(b) Filipino permanent residents abroad whose stay or visit in the Philippines is less than one year.
(c) Infants (2 years and below).
Also exempted are foreign diplomatic representatives in the Philippines, United Nations employees, US military personnel, international carrier crew, Philippine foreign service personnel (i.e., officials and employees of the Philippine Government who are assigned in Philippine foreign service posts and who are returning to their country of assignment), Philippine government employees (who are on official travel), bona fide students on scholarships and personnel of multinational companies.
Non-immigrant aliens, who have not stayed in the Philippines for more than a year, is exempted from the Travel Tax.