Many inquiries from our fellow Kababayan regarding the Balikbayan Visa and the confusion between the Balikbayan Visa and Balikbayan itself as a Filipino or former Filipino citizen. Some Filipinos need help pinpointing or understanding the purpose and the beneficial effects of the Balikbayan Visa. And some interpretation of the Balikbayan Visa is quite opposite to its purpose. Also, for some kababayans, the Balikbayan Visa is another term for OFW returning to its homeland to the Philippines. Therefore, it is a redundant view to those who seek the accurate terms and definitions between Balikbayan and a Balikbayan Visa.

Furthermore, the objective of this article is to provide the reader with a correct concept of this topic, allowing the reader to differentiate the terms and definitions of Balikbayan and Balikbayan Visa.

Mixed Couple

Definition: What is a Balikbayan Visa?

A former Filipino entered the Philippines with a Visa-Free advantage for her/him and their spouses and children who are foreign nationals.

Definition: What is a Balikbayan?

Balikbayan is a Filipino national returning to the Philippines after a year of living outside the Philippines.


Balikbayan Visa is a privilege given to all former Filipinos returning to the Philippines. Former Filipinos who entered the Philippine immigration through their foreign national travel document like a foreign Passport may enter visa-free through the Balikbayan Visa-free privilege.


Balikbayan, the returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) or Filipinos who have lived outside the Philippines for over a year and returned to the Philippines for business, to visit family members or holidays in the Philippines.

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The Law: 

The Republic Act No. 9174 under the 13a Marriage Visa of the Philippines. Stipulated that children and spouses of Filipino citizens or former Filipino citizens who gained a foreign national through Naturalization may be eligible for the Balikbayan Visa-free to enter the Philippines. 

The Balikbayan Visa-free is valid to stay in the Philippines for 365 days or a year; otherwise, one must report for further details in getting a visa extension or spouse visa. Otherwise, the foreign national of the Filipino spouse and children or the former Filipino must exit the Philippines to avoid immigration violations and complex immigration problems down the line.

In addition, as a Balikbayan privilege in the Philippines. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) or Former Filipinos returning to the Philippines are eligible to relish and attain the benefits of the Philippine Law (R.A. 9174) that allows Tax-Exemption for every Filipino Balikbayans in the amount of 1,500.00 US-Dollars maximum purchase worth of any goods at the Philippines Duty-Free shops.

Photo credit: Duty-Free Philippines Instagram

It is crucial to remember to enable your spouse and your children to enjoy the Balikbayan Visa-free. You, as a Filipino or a former Filipino, should enter the Philippine Immigration together as a family member to avoid denial for getting the Balikbayan Visa-Free for your foreign spouse and foreign children. If your foreign spouse or child arrives in the Philippines by themselves without You as a Filipino or former Filipino, the Visa-free for your spouse and children is NOT VALID; therefore, they must apply for an advance visa to stay in the Philippines if the reason for stay is more than 30 days. This advance visa varies or defends to your spouse’s or children’s nationality.

Again, the Balikbayan Visa-Free, suitable for a year, is only valid for your foreign spouse and foreign children if You are with them traveling together and entering the Philippine Immigration at the Philippines.