Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) is a requirement under the rules and regulations of POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. Having an OEC ensures that you are properly documented and protected by the Philippine Government. It is also called an exit pass; a document that you need to show to international airport authorities before you can leave the Philippines.
Having an OEC proves that you are a bona fide OFW. Moreover, if you have an OEC, you don’t have to pay for travel tax or terminal fees, unless you’re going to another country for leisure or vacation. And so, if you are planning to go on vacation to the Philippines soon, don’t forget to apply for an OEC. Keep on reading to learn more about the requirements and procedures!
What is OEC?
As mentioned earlier, the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) is a document issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to bona fide OFWs. It can be obtained from POEA offices in the Philippines, as well as from POLO offices throughout the world.
What exactly is the purpose of the OEC? There are several, actually. According to Section 35 of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 (Republic Act 8042), the OEC functions as:
- A travel “clearance” or “exit pass” for OFWs at airports;
- A certificate exempting OFWs from travel tax as well as airport terminal fees; and
- A certificate proving that an OFW is documented, which also means that he/she is guaranteed protection and benefits from the Philippine government.
The OEC has a validity period of 60 days, beginning from the date of issuance. Upon leaving the Philippines, an OFW must show this documents to the Immigration Department at the airport.
What is Balik Manggagawa?
The OEC is sometimes referred to as “Balik Manggagawa” certificate. The terms “balik manggagawa” literally means “returning worker” in Filipino. Notably, an OFW who is on official leave from work is also called “Worker on Leave” (WOL).
Who are qualified to apply for an OEC? You can obtain this certificate if you are:
- An OFW who acquired work through direct hiring;
- An OFW who was hired through a recruitment agency; or
- An OFW who was hired through POEA’s Government Placement Branch (GBP)
Furthermore, the OEC may also be issued to first-time or renewing OWWA members, as well as to OWWA members and Household Service Workers (HSWs) with contracts that have been verified by POLO.
To apply for an OEC in Qatar, you need to prepare these requirements:
- “Balik Manggagawa” (BM) Appointment Form (3 printed copies);
- POLO-verified Employment Contract (2 photocopies);
- Passport (original and 2 photocopies);
- Employer’s or Sponsor’s Qatar ID (2 photocopies);
- Confirmed airline tickets; and
- Personal appearance at POLO Qatar.
The OEC fee, along with other fees, are as follows:
- OEC Fee — QAR 9
- Pag-IBIG Membership Fee — QAR 30
- Contract Verification Fee — QAR 40
- OWWA Membership Fee — QAR 93
As you can see, being an active member of Pag-IBIG and OWWA, along with having a POLO-verified employment contract, is necessary when applying for an OEC. So if you are not an active member, you will need to pay for these other fees, as well.
How to Get an OEC in Qatar Online
Recently, the POEA has launched a new online processing system that allows OFWS to get an OEC exemption online (if applicable) or book an appointment with the nearest POEA or POLO office, to apply for an OEC.
Here is a step-by-step guide to using the POEA online processing system:
- Go to the official website of the POEA Online Processing System for Balik Manggagawa (POPS-BaM) through this link.
- To begin creating an account, click “Let’s Go!” on the e-Registration tab. Provide the necessary information, such as a valid email address and password. Check your email and click the verification link. Be sure to write down 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 choose “Balik Manggagawa.”
- See to it that the initial assessment is colored green, then click “Next.”
- Enter your departure date from the Philippines.
- Confirm your employment information. The screen will show your latest employment details that are registered with the POEA. See to it 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 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 apply for an OEC.
NOTE: When creating an account on the POEA online processing system, only one (1) e-Registration account is allowed for one (1) OFW.
If you are returning to the same employer and job site in Qatar, and if you have already acquired an OEC before, you can print an OEC exemption online. There’s no need for you to go to a POEA or POLO office in this case.
However, even if you are exempted, please bear in mind that registration on the POEA online processing system is still necessary. You need to create an account, log in, and follow the steps to getting an OEC exemption.
Here is a step-by-step guide to getting an OEC exemption:
- Follow steps 1 to 8 from above (How to Get an OEC in Qatar Online). You will be asked, “Are you returning to this job site?” (i.e. the same employer shown onscreen). Click “Yes.”
- Check your online record and see to it that all your employment details are updated and correct. Also, be sure 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 leaving the Philippines, present your OEC or Balik Manggagawa exemption to immigration officials at the airport. To avoid any problems, don’t forget to print your OEC exemption and bring it on the date of your flight.
How to Get an OEC at POLO Office in Qatar
For those who are are returning to a different employer or job site in Qatar, you’ll need to apply for an OEC at the POLO office in Doha. The process involves booking an appointment before getting your OEC, as follows:
Part 1: Booking a “Balik Manggagawa” (BM) Appointment
- Enter your latest employment information on the POEA online processing system. This applies to those who are returning to a different employer and/or job site, as well as those who already have a record with POEA but have not yet registered on the system.
- After entering your latest employment information, click “Submit.”
- Set a “Balik Manggagawa” (BM) appointment by choosing 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 in Qatar
- On the date of your appointment, go to the POLO office in Doha, Qatar.
- Show a screenshot or printed copy of your BM appointment schedule to the security guard.
- At the OEC window, present all the required documents for verification.
- Pay the OEC and other fees (if applicable).
- That’s it! After payment, you will receive your OEC.
Once again, before leaving the Philippines, get ready to show your OEC to immigration officials at the airport. To avoid any problems, see to it that your OEC is valid on the date of your departure, and that all your declared information is correct.
NOTE: Please keep in mind that the POLO office does not issue OECs to Filipinos who arrived in Qatar on a tourist visa or visit visa, then eventually obtained jobs and a working visa. These people will have to apply for an OEC through a POEA office in the Philippines. The POLO office can only verify their employments contracts in Qatar.
If you are applying for an OEC but your membership status with OWWA is not active, you’ll need to pay the necessary fee to activate your membership. This involves setting an online appointment with POLO Qatar, specifically for OWWA membership. You can book an appointment through https://booking.polodoha.com/. Please note that this is separate from booking an appointment for OEC issuance.
Video: Requirements and Steps in Applying for OEC in Qatar
Check out this video that presents the requirements and steps in applying for an OEC in Qatar. This video is shared by “InfoTsek” YouTube channel, for your reference:
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?
The OEC has a validity period of 60 days, starting from the date of issuance. The date of your departure from the Philippines should fall within this period.
2. How much is the OEC fee in Qatar?
The OEC fee in Qatar is QAR 9.00.
3. If my OWWA membership is inactive, can I obtain an OEC?
No, if your OWWA membership has expired or is inactive, you cannot obtain an OEC. You have to pay the OWWA membership fee first, then apply to get an OEC.
4. 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. Upon confirmation by the POEA online processing system that you are exempted from OEC, you don’t have to go to a POEA or POLO office. Simply print your OEC exemption and present it to immigration officials at the airport when you leave the Philippines.
5. I am going back to the same employer in Qatar. How can I get an OEC exemption?
For those who are returning to the same employer and the same job site, you can obtain an OEC exemption through the POEA online processing system. Just follow the instructions onscreen, in order to get your Balik Manggagawa or OEC exemption.
6. Can I change the email address that I used to register on the POEA online processing system?
No. The email address that you used shall serve as your permanent log-in account on the POEA online Processing System. Nevertheless, changing your account password from time to time is still possible.
Aside from your email address, the following details cannot be manually changed on the system, either: name, gender, and date of birth. Hence, see to it that you enter correct and accurate information at all times!
7. I forgot the email address and password that I used to create an account on the POEA online processing system. How can I resolve this?
Visit the online POEA Help Desk through this link. Click “Create a Ticket” and file an electronic ticket, stating that you need to correct your email address and password. To follow up your ticket, simply click “Inquire Ticket.”
8. I haven’t registered on the new POEA online processing yet, though I was able to obtain an OEC during my last vacation. Can I still get an OEC exemption now?
No. Even if you were able to obtain an OEC during your last vacation; nowadays, you need to register on the new POEA online processing system to get an OEC.
9. Do I need to acquire an OEC every time I go on vacation to the Philippines?
Yes. Every time you go on vacation to the Philippines, you need to get an OEC by logging into the POEA online processing system and printing your OEC exemption (if applicable). You can also use the system to set an appointment with the nearest POEA or POLO office, in order to apply for an OEC.
10. I am returning to the same employer and I was able to obtain an OEC before. But now, the POEA online processing system is re-directing me to the appointment page. Why?
Please keep in mind that the POEA online processing system will re-direct you to the appointment page 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 without any records in the POEA database, or there are discrepancies between the information entered and the data in the system;
- An undocumented worker (e.g. tourist, student, dependent) who became an OFW; or
- A sea-based OFW who became a land-based OFW.
If you happen to be a “Balik Manggagawa” who is planning to return to a job overseas, be sure to get an OEC or OEC exemption (if applicable) before leaving the Philippines. With the OEC, you can prove that you are a legal and documented worker. What’s more, having this document exempts you from paying travel tax and terminal fees.
Contact Information: POLO Qatar
As of March 2022, the POLO Qatar office has moved to a new location in Al Saad, Doha. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your OEC, you can get in touch with the office through its contact details below. Please note that POLO Qatar is open between 8:00 am and 4:00 om, every Sundays to Thursdays.
Address: Ground Floor, Bldg. No. 24, Jawaan St., 808 Region 39, Al Saad, Doha
Telephone: +974 3318 2459 / 3328 2459
Email: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Google Map Location
POLO Qatar is located at: Ground Floor, Bldg. No. 24, Jawaan St., 808 Region 39, Al Saad, Doha. This office is situated behind Al Saad Police Station and Al Saad Family Court. Here is the location of POLO Qatar on Google Maps, for your reference.
DISCLAIMER: We hope that the above guide has been helpful, particularly for those who are planning to take an official leave from work and go on vacation to the Philippines soon. Also, please take note that the above guide is presented for general, information-sharing purposes only. If you want to know more about the latest requirements, fees, and procedures in getting an OEC or OEC exemption, please visit the official Facebook page of POLO Qatar.
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