Whether you are a newly-hired employee who is going abroad for the first time, or an experienced overseas Filipino worker (OFW) on vacation and planning to return abroad, one essential document you will need is the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).
First-time applicants usually obtain their OECs from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). For those who are based abroad and already have a record with the POEA, they can get it from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) abroad. In particular, you can get it from the POLO office at the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo if you are based in these areas: Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Niigata, Nagano, Shizuoka, Okinawa, Yamanashi, and of course, Tokyo.
What is OEC?
The Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) is a document issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to legitimate and documented OFWs. As mentioned earlier, OFWs who are based abroad may obtain their OECs through the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in their respective countries.
Notably, Section 35 of Republic Act 8042 (Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995) defines the OEC as follows:
- A travel “exit pass” or “clearance” for OFWs at airports;
- A certificate that exempts OFWs from paying travel tax and airport terminal fees; and
- A certificate which proves that an OFW is documented, and is therefore guaranteed protection and benefits from the Philippine government.
The OEC has a 60-day validity period. Your date of departure from the Philippines must fall within this period; otherwise, you may need to apply for it again. Moreover, the OEC can only be used once for the employer and job site stated in it.
What is Balik Manggagawa?
The OEC is sometimes called the “Balik Manggagawa” certificate. The term “Balik Manggagawa” literally translates to “returning worker,” referring to OFWs who are going back abroad. If the OFW is on official leave, he/she may also be referred to as a “Worker on Leave” (WOL).
Who are qualified or eligible for obtaining an OEC? You can apply if you are:
- An OFW on vacation or on official leave from a job;
- A re-hired OFW who has finished a contract and returning abroad for work again; and
- A Filipino who arrived on a tourist visa or visit visa, got hired abroad, is now registered with POLO (for inclusion to the POEA database), and returning to the same employer.
OFWs who are planning to apply for an OEC at POLO Tokyo need to prepare the original and at least two (2) copies of these requirements:
- Passport with minimum 6-month validity from date of departure;
- Valid work visa, work visa, or equivalent document;
- Employment Contract that has been verified by POLO; and
- Balik Manggagawa Information Sheet printed through POEA online system.
NOTE: The Employment Contract must be verified by POLO and authenticated by the Philippine Embassy.
The OEC processing fee is PHP 100 or its equivalent in Japanese Yen (JPY). Meanwhile, make sure that your OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) and Pag-IBIG memberships are active. Otherwise, you may need to pay these necessary fees as part of getting an OEC.
How to Get an OEC in Tokyo, Japan Online
The POEA has introduced a new online processing system where OFWs can apply for an OEC. First of all, you need to register and create an account before applying for an OEC and setting an appointment with the POEA or POLO.
Here is a step-by-step guide to using the new system:
- Visit the official website of the POEA Online Processing System for Balik Manggagawa (POPS-BaM) through this link.
- On the e-Registration tab, click “Let’s Go!” to start creating an account. Enter the required details, including a valid email address and password. Check your email and click the verification link. Don’t forget to write down the email address and password that you used in creating your account.
- Log into your account and enter or update your details, including passport, visa, employment information, etc.
- Then, it’s time to apply for an OEC. Go to “My Links” on the left tab, then choose “Balik Manggagawa.”
- Make sure that the initial assessment is colored green, then click “Next.”
- Enter the date of your departure from the Philippines.
- Confirm your employment details. 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 on the screen). 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 information, such as the name of your employer, business permit, employer’s valid ID, employer’s address, etc.
- Select the nearest POEA or POLO office, and set the date and time of your appointment.
- Print your Balik Manggagawa Information Sheet. You can take a screenshot of your confirmed appointment as well.
- 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.
OFWs who are returning to the same employer and job site in Japan may avail of an OEC exemption. This means that you don’t have to go to a POEA or POLO office to obtain an OEC exemption.
That being said, even if you are exempted, you still need to register with the new POEA online processing system to obtain a “Balik Manggagawa” a exemption. Here is a step-by-step guide to getting an exemption:
- Follow steps 1 to 8 from above (How to Get an OEC in Tokyo, Japan Online). You will be asked, “Are you returning to this job site?” (i.e. the same employer shown on the screen). Click “Yes.”
- Review your data and make sure that all your employment information is correct. Don’t forget to enter the starting date and duration of your contract.
- After entering all the required details, the system will generate your OEC or Balik Manggagawa exemption. Print this document as proof that you are exempted.
Upon leaving the Philippines, show your OEC or Balik Manggagawa exemption to immigration officials at the airport. It’s a good idea to print a copy of this document and bring it on the date of your departure, to avoid any problems.
How to Get an OEC at POLO Office in Tokyo
Meanwhile, if you are going back to a different employer or to a different job site, you need to apply for an OEC at the POLO office in Tokyo. This involves booking an appointment before getting your OEC, as presented below:
Part 1: Booking a “Balik Manggagawa” (BM) Appoinment
- Enter your latest employment information 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 information, click “Submit.”
- Set a “Balik Manggagawa” (BM) appointment by selecting your preferred processing location (e.g. nearest POLO or POEA office).
- Select your preferred appointment date.
- That’s it! You have just made a BM Appointment.
Part 2: Getting an OEC at POLO Tokyo
- Go to Philippine Embassy in Tokyo.
- 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 to the POLO administrative staff.
- Make the necessary payments at the cashier.
- That’s it! Upon payment, you will receive your OEC.
Once again, on the date of departure from 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: Clarification on OEC and Contract Verification
Just recently, on May 7, 2022, an online discussion was held between Gemma Sotto of United Filipinos Global, POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia, and DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III. Through this video shared by Agnes Lapus’ YouTube channel, the discussion tackles some issues regarding contract verification and OEC acquisition of OFWs in Japan. Check out this video to learn more about these important matters:
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions and answers regarding the OEC, OEC exemption, and the POEA online processing system:
1. How long is the validity of an OEC?
An OEC has a 60-day validity period. It must be valid on the date of your departure from the Philippines.
2. How much is the OEC fee in Japan?
The OEC processing fee is PHP 100 or its equivalent in Japanese Yen (JPY).
3. Can I get an OEC without being a member of OWWA?
No. You need to be an active member of OWWA in order to get an OEC. Hence, you may need to pay the OWWA membership fee during your application.
4. I am returning to the same employer in Japan. How can I get an OEC exemption?
If you are returning to the same employer, register through the POEA online processing system. See to it that all your details are correct, then follow the instructions onscreen to get an OEC exemption.
5. The POEA online processing system has confirmed that I am exempted from OEC. Do I need to go to a POEA or POLO office?
No. If you are exempted from OEC, you don’t need to go to a POEA or POLO office. Simply print your OEC exemption and show it to immigration officials at the airport on the date of your departure from the Philippines.
6. Can I change the email address that I used when creating an account on the POEA online processing system?
No. You cannot change your email address; it will serve as your permanent log-in account on the system. Nevertheless, you can change your account password from time to time.
Aside from your email address, the following details cannot be manually changed either: name, gender, and date of birth. So be sure to enter the correct information always!
7. I forgot the email address and password that I used to register an account on the POEA online processing system. How can I fix this?
Go to the POEA Help Desk through this link. Click “Create a Ticket” and file an electronic ticket regarding your request to correct your email address and password. To follow up your ticket, click “Inquire Ticket.”
8. I was able to get an OEC during my last vacation, but I haven’t registered with the new POEA online processing system. Can I get an OEC exemption?
No. Even if you were previously able to get an OEC, you still have to register and create an account with the new POEA online processing system, in order to get an OEC or OEC exemption.
9. I am returning to the same employer and I was able to get an OEC before. But now, the POEA online processing system is re-directing me to the appointment page. Why?
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 returning to a restricted or non-compliant country;
- An OFW without any records on 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.
10. Do I need to get an OEC each time I go on vacation to the Philippines?
Yes. You need to get an OEC or OEC exemption every time you go on vacation to the Philippines. This involves logging into the POEA online processing system and getting an OEC or OEC exemption before returning abroad.
The OEC is an important document that OFWs need to secure every time they leave the Philippines. Fortunately, if you are returning to the same employer and job site abroad, you can apply for an OEC exemption online, without having to go to a POEA or POLO office. In any case, it’s important to register and create an account on the new POEA online processing system, before getting an OEC or an appointment at the POLO office.
Contact Information: POLO Tokyo
If you have any queries or concerns regarding your OEC, you can get in touch with POLO Tokyo through the contact details below. Keep in mind that the office is open from Monday to Thursday between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm, and every Friday between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm.
Address: Philippine Overseas Labor Office, Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines, Roppongi, 5-15-5, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan, 106-8537
Telephone: +813 6441 0959 / 644 10478
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Google Map Location
The POLO office is situated at the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, which is just a 7-minute walk from Azabujuban (Namboku and Oedo Line), Exit 7, and a 9-minute walk from Roponggi Station (Hibiya and Oedo Line), Exit 3. Below is the office’s location on Google Maps, for your reference:
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