Newly-hired OFWs need to get an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) before they leave the Philippines. Likewise, OFWs who are returning abroad for work purposes also need to present an OEC before departure. Failure to secure an OEC could result in delayed flights, or worse, getting offloaded from the airport.
If you are an OFW in Osaka or nearby areas, you can obtain an OEC from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) here. Keep on reading to know more about the OEC, and how you can apply for it online as well as through the POLO Osaka office.
What is OEC?
Before anything else, let’s define exactly what an OEC is. It is a document issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to legitimate and documented OFWs. It may be obtained through POEA offices in the Philippines, or through POLO offices in different parts of the world.
According to the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 (Republic Act 8042), Section 35, the OEC serves the following purposes:
- A travel “clearance” or “exit pass” for OFWs at airports;
- A certificate exempting OFWs from paying travel tax and airport terminal fees; and
- A certificate proving that an OFW is documented and guaranteed protection and benefits from the Philippine government.
As for validity, the OEC is valid for 60 days, starting from the date of issue. This means that your date of departure must fall within this period; otherwise, you may need to apply for an OEC again. Furthermore, the OEC may be used only once, for the employer and job site stated in it.
What is Balik Manggagawa?
Sometimes, the OEC may be referred to as the “Balik Manggagawa” certificate. Simply put, “Balik Manggagawa” means “returning worker” in Filipino, referring to OFWs who are going back to work overseas. An OFW who is on official leave may also be referred to as a “Worker on Leave” (WOL).
Who are qualified to get an OEC? You can apply for this document if you are:
- An OFW who acquired work via direct hiring;
- An OFW who got hired through a recruitment agency;
- An OFW who got hired through POEA’s Government Placement Branch (GBP);
- An OFW who has existing records in the POEA database, and is returning to the same employer and job site;
- An OFW who has existing records in the POEA database, and is returning to the same employer but to a different job site; and
- An OFW without existing records in the POEA database, or is returning to a different employer in Japan.
Meanwhile, you cannot apply for an OEC if you do not have a POLO-verified employment contract. Similarly, you cannot get an OEC if you came to Japan on a tourist visa or visit visa, and eventually got hired and obtained a work visa. In these cases, you will need to apply for an OEC through a POEA office in the Philippines.
To apply for an OEC in Japan, you will need to prepare the following documents:
- Balik Manggagawa Appointment Form;
- OFW Information Sheet;
- POLO-verified Employment Contract;
- Valid Work Permit, Work Visa, or other similar document;
- Certificate of Employment, Company ID, latest pay slip, or other document as proof of employment; and
- Photocopy of confirmed, round-trip tickets.
Aside from the above documents, you should also prepare for these fees:
- OEC Processing Fee — PHP 100 converted to Japanese Yen (JPY)
- OWWA Membership Fee — USD 25 converted to Japanese Yen (JPY)
If you are already an active member of OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) at the time of your application, then you don’t need to pay the membership fee. On the other hand, if you are not yet a member, then you must pay the OWWA membership fee. The same goes for your Pag-IBIG contribution; you need to pay this fee when applying for an OEC.
How to Get an OEC in Osaka, Japan Online
Recently, a new online processing system was launched by the POEA. Through this system, OFWs can register and create an account, set an appointment with the POEA or POLO for getting an OEC, and obtain an OEC exemption (if applicable).
Here are the steps to using the new POEA online processing system:
- Go to the official website of the POEA Online Processing System for Balik Manggagawa (POPS-BaM) through this link.
- Click “Let’s Go!” on the e-Registration tab to begin creating an account. Enter the required information, such as a valid email address and password. Check your email and click the verification link. Be sure to record the email address and password that you used to create your account.
- Log into your account and enter or update your information, including passport, visa, employment details, etc.
- Next, it’s time to apply for an OEC. On the left tab, go to “My Links,” then select “Balik Manggagawa.”
- See to it that the initial assessment is colored green, then click “Next.”
- Enter the date of your departure from the Philippines.
- Confirm your employment information. The screen will display your latest employment information that is registered with the POEA. Make sure that everything is marked “Clear.”
- The system will ask, “Are you returning to this job site?” (i.e. the same employer shown onscreen). If your answer is YES, proceed to OEC Exemption (see below). If your answer is NO, proceed to step no. 9.
- Enter your latest employment details, including the name of your employer, business permit, employer’s valid ID, employer’s address, etc.
- Choose the nearest POEA or POLO office, and set the date and time of your appointment.
- Print your Balik Manggagawa Information Sheet. You can also take a screenshot of your confirmed appointment.
- On the date of your appointment, bring your Balik Manggagawa Information Sheet and other documents to the POEA or POLO office to get your OEC.
NOTE: When registering on the POEA online processing system, only one (1) e-Registration account is allowed for one (1) OFW.
If you are going back to the same employer and job site in Japan, you can apply for an OEC exemption online. This means that you do not need to go to a POEA or POLO office to get an OEC exemption.
However, even if you are exempted from getting an OEC, you still have to register with the new POEA online processing system and obtain a “Balik Manggagawa” exemption. Follow these steps to get an OEC or Balik Manggagawa Exemption:
- Follow steps 1 to 8 from above (How to Get an OEC in Osaka, Japan Online).
- You will be asked, “Are you returning to this job site?” (i.e. the same employer shown onscreen). Click “Yes.”
- Check your data and make sure that all your employment details are correct.
- Don’t forget to enter the starting date and duration of your contract.
- After entering all the necessary information, the system will generate your OEC or Balik Manggagawa exemption. Print this document as proof that you are exempted.
Before you leave the Philippines, show your OEC or Balik Manggagawa exemption to immigration officials at the airport. To avoid any problems, you can print a copy of this document and bring it on the date of your flight.
How to Get an OEC at POLO Office in Osaka, Japan
If you are returning to a different employer or to a different job site, you need to apply for an OEC at the POLO office in Osaka. This involves setting an appointment before getting your OEC, as presented below:
Part 1: Booking a “Balik Manggagawa” (BM) Appoinment
- Enter your latest employment details on the POEA online processing system. This applies to those who have a change of employer and/or jobsite, and those who already have a record with POEA, but have not yet registered on the new system.
- After entering your employment details, click “Submit.”
- Set a “Balik Manggagawa” (BM) appointment by choosing your preferred processing location (e.g. nearest POLO or POEA office).
- Choose your preferred appointment date.
- That’s it! You have just made a BM Appointment.
Part 2: Getting an OEC at POLO Tokyo
- On the date of your appointment, go to the POLO office in Osaka.
- Proceed to the POLO counter and get an OFW Information Sheet.
- Fill up the OFW Information Sheet.
- Submit the OFW Information Sheet and other requirements.
- Make the necessary payments at the cashier.
- That’s it! Upon payment, you will receive your OEC.
Before you leave the Philippines, show your OEC to immigration officials at the airport. Make sure that your OEC is valid on the date of your flight to avoid any problems.
Video: Clarifications on OEC and Contract Verification
You may have questions about the OEC and contract verification matters. Fortunately, there was a recent meeting about these topics. On May 7, 2022, an online discussion was held between Ms. Gemma Sotto of United Filipinos Global, POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia, and DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
In the video, shared by Agnes Lapus’ YouTube channel, the discussion focused on certain issues related to contract verification and OEC acquisition of OFWs in Japan. Watch this video to know more about these important matters:
Frequently Asked Questions
Meanwhile, here are some commonly asked questions — and answers — regarding the OEC, OEC exemption, and the POEA online processing system:
1. Who can apply for an OEC at POLO Osaka?
You can apply for an OEC at POLO Osaka if you are an OFW based in any of these areas: Kyoto, Mie, Nara, Shiga, Wakayama, Hyogo, Okayama, Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, Shimane, Tottori, Ehime, Kagawa, Kochi, Tokushima, Nagasaki, Saga, Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Oita, and of course, Osaka.
2. What if I live far from Osaka?
If you live far from Osaka, don’t worry! From time to time, POLO Osaka conducts “Consular Outreach” programs in different locations. Follow the official Facebook page of POLO Osaka to know the latest schedule and appointment details.
3. How long is the validity of an OEC?
The OEC has a validity period of 60 days. It must be valid on the date of your departure from the Philippines; otherwise, you may need to apply for it again.
4. How much is the OEC fee in Japan?
The OEC processing fee in Japan is PHP 100 or its equivalent in Japanese Yen (JPY).
5. Can I get an OEC without being a member of OWWA?
No. You cannot get an OEC if you are not an OWWA member. Your membership status must be active; therefore, you may need to pay the OWWA membership fee when you apply for an OEC.
6. I am going back to the same employer in Japan. How can I get an OEC exemption?
If you are going back to the same employer in Japan, you will still need to register through the POEA online processing system. Make sure that all your details are correct, then follow the instructions onscreen to get an OEC exemption.
7. The POEA online processing system has confirmed that I am exempted from OEC. Do I still need to go to a POEA or POLO office?
No. If the system has confirmed that you are exempted from OEC, then you don’t have to go to a POEA or POLO office. Just print your OEC exemption and present it to immigration officials at the airport before you leave the Philippines.
8. Can I change the email address I used when creating an account on the POEA online processing system?
No. You cannot change your email address; this will serve as your permanent log-in account on the POEA online processing system. However, it is possible to change your account password from time to time.
Other than your email address, the following data cannot be manually changed also: name, gender, and date of birth. So, don’t forget to enter the correct information at all times!
9. I forgot the email address and password I used to register an account on the POEA online processing system. What should I do?
Visit the POEA Help Desk through this link. Click “Create a Ticket” and file an electronic ticket, stating a request to correct your email address and password. To follow up your ticket, just click “Inquire Ticket.”
10. During my last vacation, I was able to get an OEC. However, I have not yet registered with the new POEA online processing system. Can I get an OEC exemption?
No. Even if you were able to get an OEC before, you still need to register and create an account with the new POEA online processing system, so you can apply for an OEC or OEC exemption.
11. I am going back to the same employer and I was able to get an OEC before. However, the POEA online processing system is re-directing me to the appointment page. Why?
Please take note that you will be re-directed to the appointment page of the POEA online processing system if you are:
- An OFW who is on a watchlist, or your employer is on a watchlist;
- An OFW who is going back to a restricted or non-compliant country;
- An OFW who is not recorded in the POEA database, or there are discrepancies between the data you entered and the information in the system;
- An undocumented worker (e.g. tourist, student, dependent) who became an OFW; and
- A sea-based OFW who became a land-based OFW.
12. Do I need to get an OEC every time I go on vacation to the Philippines?
Yes. You need to apply for an OEC or OEC exemption each time you go on vacation to the Philippines. You need to log into the POEA online processing system and apply for an OEC or OEC exemption before going back abroad.
Once again, please be reminded that the OEC is an essential document for newly-hired as well as returning OFWs. If you are going back to the same employer and job site in Osaka (or nearby areas), you can obtain an OEC exemption online. On the other hand, if you are going back to a different employer and job site, you need to apply for an OEC through the POLO office in Osaka. In certain cases, some OFWs may need to apply through a POEA office in the Philippines.
Contact Information: POLO Osaka
If you have any questions or concerns about getting an OEC, you can get in touch with POLO Osaka by contacting the details below. Please keep in mind that the office is open from Mondays to Fridays, except during holidays.
Address: 7/F FPG Links Midosuji, 4-3-5 Awaji-machi, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Japan 541-0047
Telephone: +81 665 757 593 / +8170 2275 6082 (Hotline for Labor Documentation Concerns) / +8170 2447 4016 (Hotline for Welfare Concerns)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Official Email) / email@example.com (Labor Documentation Concerns) / firstname.lastname@example.org (Labor Concerns)
Google Map Location
Here is the location of the POLO office in Osaka, for your reference:
DISCLAIMER: We hope that the above guide has been helpful, particularly if you are going on leave or having a vacation in the Philippines soon. In addition, please note that the above guide is presented for general, information-sharing purposes only. To learn more about the latest requirements, fees, and procedures in getting an OEC or OEC exemption, please visit the official website of POLO Osaka.
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