The POEC (Philippine Overseas Employment Certificate in a Nutshell)
Working abroad has always been the dream of many Filipinos, especially those who aspire to improve their means of living through working for a higher salary. It’s very common to find Filipino overseas workers literally everywhere especially in the Middle East.
Years ago, it wasn’t so hard to apply and work abroad.
Many would get tourist visas to travel as tourists to the country of their choice then find work during the time that they were “visiting”. Once they found a job, they would simply ask their employer to help change their tourist visa to that of a work visa.
Another option was to find work through direct hiring. For instance, a friend abroad can look for an employer for you. That employer would pay for the processing of your work visa in the Philippines as well as buy your plane tickets for you.
Also just a few years ago, you could also find an agency to help you find a job to your country of choice but for a fee. Usually, they charged one month’s salary and you had to pay them in instalments.
However, this is no longer the case today because whether you like it or not, you need to have your Philippines Overseas Employment Certificate (POEC).
Different people have different reasons for working abroad. Whatever their reason may be, you can guess it’s connected to them having a better life and a more sustainable way to earn money for family and loved ones.
The Philippines has been sending workers abroad for years. However, due to the death of at least seven Filipino workers in Kuwait, there has been an order to suspend certification to travel to this country by the Philippines Government.
For those Kabayans interested in legally applying to work abroad, it is important to know the process of doing so.
The Overseas Employment Certificate is a document needed by an overseas worker applicant, which is secured at the POEA.
Your POEC document validates your legitimacy to work abroad.
Although the document only has a 60-day validity upon issuance, so you would apply and process your POEC when you have or are close to landing your job abroad.
Companies abroad in the Dubai, Saudi, Singapore or wherever you plan to transfer for work, these companies will understand there are requirements that you will only want to process after they have given you a job offer. So applying for your POEC after you’ve landed a job will be the normal procedure.
Of course, as a good employee with strong communication – this is something you can ask your future potential employer if they already know about. If they were unaware, they will be happy to be informed so they can plan for the time it will take you to process your POEC.
When you have your POEC and are ready to travel, when you present this at the airport you will be exempt from having to pay travel tax and terminal fees at Philippine airpots. You will get access to OFW lanes, qualify for government protection and assistance, and will have a stronger application for a OFW Loan, once you are working abroad and also have your POEC.
In order for you to apply for an OEC, there are simple requirements that need to be submitted. Here is a list of requirements and fees needed for an OEC application:
- Passport with at least six months validity from departure date
- Valid work visa, work permit, or any equivalent document
- Verified employment contract or offer of employment
- Printed Balik-Manggagawa Information Sheet
For certain processes and services, the corresponding fees are as follows:
- POEA processing fee – PHP 100 per e0receipt/OEC
- OWWA membership fee – USD 25 (or its PHP equivalent)
- Pag-IBIG contribution – Minimum of PHP 100 each month
- PhilHealth contribution – PHP 2,400 for one-year coverage
Keep in mind that there are different requirements based on the skill of the worker, whether they are professional workers, household or service workers. Other requirements may be requested especially if the application is for the United States or Canada. Make sure that along with all the copied documents you present for processing, you also carry with you their original copies for inspection.
Once all requirements are on hand and complete, make sure to set an appointment with the POEA by going to their office directly or by scheduling an appointment on their Balik-Manggagawa Online System.
If you are in Metro Manila, your POEA office is here:
Blas F. Ople Building
Ortigas Avenue corner EDSA
Find contact details and a map to the Metro Manila office HERE.
If you are outside of Metro Manila, you can find a list of the POEA Regional Centres and Satellite Offices here.
Considering there are a lot of other applicants applying for the OEC, you can be sure that the processing time for this document will not be as quick as ordering a Frappuccino at Starbucks.
For walk-in applications, processing may take a few hours or even several days to complete, depending on how prepared you are with your documents and requirements.
To help speed up the process, it’s recommended to log into their BM online appointment system in order to speed up the process when you arrive at your local POEA office.
Keep in mind that the only people allowed to apply for OEC exemptions are returning OFWs, who are back in the Philippines and who will be returning to the same employer abroad. Before returning for work abroad, simply log into the BM Online site and adjust your details.
This is why it is important to have an existing POEA file on their database, so that they can issue an OEC exemption. Remember to check the confirmation message given online and review the requirements needed to be presented at the airport before departure from the Philippines.
Applying for the Philippine Overseas Employment Certificate has been made for those that want to try work abroad and for those reapplying for their working permits. Having to secure all the documents for the POEC may feel like applying for your passport all over again, at least now you know how you can best apply for yours.
Author: Stephanie G.