Types of Business Loans that Best Suits Your Business

What do you plan to do when you get home from the Philippines? Most OFWs will look for a new job overseas to be able to finance and sustain a good life for their family. If you are wiser with the way you handle money and finances back home, then applying for a new job abroad every two years won’t be necessary. In fact, you might be having your own business after three to five trips overseas.

We know that putting up your own business is not as easy as it seems. You need to ensure that your business idea is sustainable to make sure that it will go on for years. Then there’s the financial side. Even if you have the brightest idea that will surely change the Filipino way of life, you need to have money or capital to make this idea happen.

This is where business loan comes in. It gives you additional working capital to make your business dreams happen. Apparently, business loans come in different types as well, each of them catering to specific needs.

Here’s what you need to know about the different kinds of this type of facility:

Secured Business Loan 

From the name itself, you can easily tell that this type of business loan requires collateral. In case of default, lender may use the collateral to pay for your existing loan obligation.

Don’t worry. The good thing about this type of loan is that you can enjoy higher loan amount, lower interest rate, and longer loan terms since your loan is secured by a collateral and risk is reduced. This is why going for a secured business loan is ideal, especially for those who are still starting with their business.

Loan amount varies per lender. Maximum amount you can borrow will also depend on the security you will offer. Lenders impose a limit and percentage for maximum loan amount based on your collateral. For instance, if you offer real property, you can only borrow up to 60 percent of the property’s appraised value.

What type of collateral, you might ask. Anything that is under your name. Real estate property is the most common type of collateral used, although you have to pay for appraisal fee and make sure that your real estate tax payment is updated. Aside from this, you can also use your car (chattel mortgage) or time deposit (Deed of Assignment) when you apply for a secured business loan.

Term Loan 

In case you wanted more manageable payment terms, then this type of business loan is ideal for you.

Term loan offers short- or long-term business funding while keeping your own funds intact. You can avail of this facility if you want to get into franchising, expand your existing business, purchase of new equipment, or even purchase, construction, or renovation of business space. You can get minimum of P50,000 and maximum of P20 million, payable within one (short-term loan) to 15 (long-term loan) years.

In terms of payment, this would vary per lender. Term loans are typically paid monthly, which includes both principal and interest (rate is either fixed or based on prevailing market rate), but some would allow quarterly, semi-annual, or annual payment.

READ: What You Need to Know about OWWA Loan 

Credit Line

There are instances when you don’t really need a big amount, but you just want money available at your disposal. In that case, credit line is your best option for your business loan.

Credit line is a type of facility that offers short-term loan and quick access to money whenever you need, which is usually good for one year. You can use this for purchase of additional supplies or inventory, contract financing, additional working capital, or accounts receivable among others. Minimum loan amount is P100,000 to P20 million, but the amount varies depending on the nature of the loan. You can pay the loan every month, but if you have additional funds, paying off the loan can be made.

Don’t worry because you will only pay interest based on the amount you used. For instance, the lender approved P1 million credit line on January. Come February, you only need P300,000 because you fell short in your payroll and promised to pay it after a month. You will only be charged interest on P300,000 and you also have the option to repay the loan without consuming the entire one month.

Unsecured Business Loan 

Let’s say you badly need additional funds, but you don’t have collateral to offer. That’s fine. There are lenders who offer unsecured business loan, which means collateral is not mandatory for the approval of your loan.

Although this sounds ideal for you, unsecured loans typically have lower loan amount, higher interest rate, and shorter loan terms to reduce risk of non-payment of loan. Applying with a co-maker who is in good financial standing and providing sufficient amount of income are recommended when you plan to go for this facility.

Banks don’t normally offer this type of loan because of the risk involved, but private lenders like Balikbayad offers unsecured loan to help starting entrepreneurs like you to start your own business.

In case you’re interested, make sure to fill out our online loan application for pre-approval and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

OFW Guide to Living and Working in Taiwan

Middle East countries will always have the highest demand for overseas workers. If you prefer something nearer to the Philippines, Hong Kong and Singapore are the top choices because of its proximity.

Did you know that Taiwan is also a favorite of many OFWs? This is because there are a lot of job opportunities available in this tiny country that is only two hours away from Manila. This country is export-driven with its home-grown brands such as Asus, Acer, and Trend Micro already having a global status. Because of this, the country is in need of factory and skilled workers in manufacturing their global brands.

In case you plan to work in Taiwan, make sure to read this post to prepare you for a new life there:

Labor Law and Policies

All workers, except for Household Service Workers (HSWs), are covered by Taiwan’s Labor Standards Law.

Despite the exemption, it is illegal for all employers to keep your passport and Alien Residency Certificate (ARC) without your consent. To get your ARC, you must submit the following at the local police station as soon as possible:

  • Letter of Authorization from the Council of Labor Affairs
  • Medical certificate with Letter of Authorization from local health authorities

Weather

Unlike in the Philippines, Taiwan experiences the four seasons – winter (although there is no snow but just a chilly wind), spring, summer, and fall. A maximum of four typhoons visit Taiwan every year, but these typhoons often bring floods in the country. Taiwan is also prone to earthquakes, so make sure you are prepared.

Culture and Way of Life 

Taiwan is still dominated with their own kind, but you will see lots of people of different races.

Mandarin Chinese is the official language in Taiwan, but Hokkien is still widely used. Nonetheless, Taiwanese understand simple English words, so conversing with them won’t be too much of a problem.

Finding 7/11 stores won’t be a problem as well. Taiwan holds the highest density of 7/11 stores per person.

If you are looking for something to do after a long day, karaoke is popular in this country. If time permits, make sure to go around and explore the place because you will find a lot of scenic spots like Shilin Night Market and visit museums and memorial halls.

Also, never point using your finger. This is considered as disrespectful for them. Instead, point with an open hand.

Buses and trains are also the main forms of transportation. This is ideal because it is cheaper compared to riding a cab.

Religion

Buddhism is the primary religion in Taiwan. Aside from this, Christianity, Taoism, Protestantism, and other religions are practiced and accepted. You will also find Catholic churches in Taiwan, so fulfilling your Sunday obligation won’t be an issue.

Food

You will surely love this. Taiwan is among the best food destinations in the world and you will find tons dishes to fill your hungry tummy. Taipei is also a home to variety of streets dedicated for food where you will find streetside bao in variety of flavors, beef noodle soup, bubble tea, and lurou fan (braised pork rice) among others.

Surely, you’ll never go hungry.

Despite the beauty of Taiwan, keep in mind that it only allows foreign workers to work in their country for a maximum of 12 years. Make the most out of your stay, enjoy, and make sure to save up.

Facts about the PAG-IBIG Fund Law of 2009 – for Overseas Filipino Workers

PAG-IBIG. This government agency stands for Pagtutulungan sa Kinabukasan: Ikaw, Bangko, Industriya, at Gobyerno. The main purpose of the agency is to provide affordable housing scheme through effective savings policy.

In August 27, 2009, the Home Development Mutual Fund Law or PAG-IBIG Fund Law (RA 9679) was passed and became effective thereafter, which aims to strengthen the agency’s ability to provide affordable housing schemes among others. The question now is how does this law affect OFWs?

Here are facts you need to know about the PAG-IBIG Fund Law of 2009:

Universal Coverage

RA 9679 has universal coverage, which means this covers all documented OFWs, both land-based and seafarers, which also aims to provide affordable housing opportunities to them. This means aside from the OWWA membership, all OFWs should also register with PAG-IBIG prior to date of departure. You will be given a Registration Tracking Number or RTN, which you will use when transacting with PAG-IBIG. Therefter, MID number will be given to you.

In case you weren’t able to register yet and you are abroad, there are PAG-IBIG posts located outside the Philippines located at the country’s respective embassies. You can check the locations here.

Monthly Contribution

You can increase your voluntary contribution every month to yield bigger savings. Unlike before when you were limited to P100 per month, you can increase your monthly contribution as long as it does not exceed the cap prescribed by the PAG-IBIG Board of Trustees.

How much will you contribute? Two percent of your monthly income. Keep in mind that the higher the contribution, the higher the dividends will be. The best part is what you’ll get after 20 years is tax-free as well.

Unlike Filipino employers, foreign employers are not expected to give contributions to PAG-IBIG, unless they voluntarily do so.

Modified PAG-IBIG II Program

If you want to get higher dividends within a short period, then this program is recommended. Minimum monthly contribution is P500 and maximum amount is P5,000.

Dividend rate is higher compared to the ordinary contribution scheme, but the return of your money is higher as well.

Previous Contributions Made

Prior to the passage of RA 9679, OFWs were under the PAG-IBIG Overseas Program or POP and contributions were regularly made.

Don’t worry. Your previous contributions under POP will be carried over and remain under your name. Even if you changed employers, the money you saved will stay with you.

Keep in mind that POP contributions and contributions made under the new scheme will not be merged. The total accumulated value for both facilities will remain separate and there is a possibility that you can get your POP contributions earlier even if you haven’t reached the 20 years yet under the new scheme.

If you want to discontinue with the POP and transfer to PAG-IBIG I scheme instead, then you may do so as long as you do not have existing loans with the agency.

Payment of Contribution 

Initially, you can do it in the Philippines during your registration. To ensure that you will be able to save no matter what happens, you can pay for your monthly contributions in the Philippine Embassy or Consulate in the country where you are assigned. The embassy allotted a desk specifically for PAG-IBIG wherein the person in-charge is authorized to transact.

Claiming of Contribution 

You can get your Total Accumulated Value (TAV) after 20 years and after making 240 monthly contributions. 

Nonetheless, there are exceptions to this rule. This includes:

  • 15 years optional withdrawal provided 180 straight monthly contributions were made and you don’t have existing loan with PAG-IBIG.
  • Claimant is 60 years of age.
  • Mandatory retirement at 65.
  • Transferring to another country permanently
  • Total insanity or disability
  • Loss of employment due to serious medical condition
  • Death

You will receive the entire amount of your monthly contributions made plus contributions made by your employer (if any), and the dividends earned.

In case of Death 

The total accumulated value will be given to your registered dependents. Nonetheless, PAG-IBIG will deduct a portion of this savings in case you have existing obligations with the agency. Aside from the money you contributed, PAG-IBIG will also provide death benefits for your family.

The amount may not seem a lot, but this could be a great help for you to start over in case you want to settle in the Philippines and retire for good.

PERA for Retirement: Yay or Nay? + Other Retirement Options for OFWs

Do you have a retirement fund? If yes, then good for you. There’s no such thing as “too early for retirement,” especially when you want to live comfortably when you get older.

READ: 6 Tips to Help You Save for Retirement

Let’s say you still don’t have a retirement fund. That’s okay. It’s not yet too late as long as you start saving up for it now. Opening a specific account, which will serve as your retirement fund is fine. The problem with this is that you don’t get too earn more in terms of interest and at the same time, withdrawing money is tempting.

What is another option? Consider PERA or Personal Equity and Retirement Account.

READ: What You Need to Know about PERA

In a nutshell, PERA is the government’s way of encouraging Filipinos to save money for retirement. To make your money grow, your PERA contribution, which is currently offered by BDO and BPI only, will be invested in various channels like mutual funds, UITF, government securities, shares of stocks, insurance pension products, and other investment products.

The good thing about PERA is that you can only withdraw your contributions, which is tax-exempt, once you reach the age of 55 years old and has contributed for at least five years. 

Think of it as an additional retirement fund that supplements your retirement package from SSS/GSIS or the company you worked for.

The next question is this: should you apply for a PERA account for additional retirement savings option? 

The biggest selling point of PERA is the tax benefits. Compared to the products offered by banks, PERA has the following tax advantages:

  • Income tax credit, wherein you get to enjoy five percent tax credit out of your total contribution. For instance, your total PERA contribution is P100,000. You will only declare P95,000 in in your income tax because you earned P5,000 tax credit.
  • Investment income is tax-free, which means you are exempted from paying capital gains tax, final withholding tax, and regular income tax.
  • Estate tax exemption, which means in case of death, the PERA contribution will be released to the heirs or legal beneficiaries, sans payment of estate tax and going through the lengthy probate process.

Aside from the tax benefits, you can also choose where you want to invest your money. There are many PERA investment products you can choose from depending on your risk profile, so go for a product that allows you to earn more.

Is it good enough for your retirement fund? The answer is yes. The tax incentives alone is a good reason to consider investing your money in PERA account. Just make sure you won’t withdraw the money before you turn 55 so you will get to enjoy tax benefits.

In case you’re still not convinced with PERA, below are some of your Retirement Fund alternatives:

  • Savings Account – The good thing about having a separate account for retirement is that your cash is readily available. Unfortunately, withdrawing money is more tempting, plus you don’t get to earn more from interest every month.
  • Investment Products – This includes mutual funds, time deposit, bonds, or stocks among others. Investment products yield higher return of investment compared to savings. Check out this post to know more about your options and according to what is more suitable to your lifestyle.
  • Real Properties – It’s not enough that you have a house. Real properties are also an acceptable alternative for your retirement fund because you can earn from it by renting it out. This could be costly to buy compared to the other alternatives, but the money you earn from rent could help you a lot as you get older.

What path would you like to take to make your Retirement Fund happen?

Documents Needed When Applying for a Job Overseas

You love your country, but with what’s happening, you can’t help but consider working overseas. After all, you need money to ensure and secure your family’s future. With the amount of money you are earning today, it won’t be enough to cover all the necessary expenses, including your own house, car, education, savings, and investment.

Apparently, someone told you that applying abroad can be overwhelming. There are a lot of documentation involved before you can even get a slot for interview.

The truth is applying overseas is similar to applying for a job here. Yes, there are additional documents you need to submit, but these documents are not hard to fulfill.

Below is a checklist of documents you need to prepare if you want to work abroad:

1. Updated Resume or CV – This is important. In fact, this is the first document you need to prepare when applying for a job overseas. Your resume or CV should contain your educational attainment, previous work experience/s, relevant trainings related to the job you are applying for, and references. You can check this post to help you write your resume and how to make it stand out.

2. Valid Passport – Surprisingly, there are many aspiring OFWs who are having trouble with this. Some were unaware that their passports are about to expire, thereby preventing them from applying overseas. If you want to work abroad, then make sure your passport is valid for at least six months. If it’s less than six months, then schedule a passport renewal immediately so you can start with the work application process.

3. Birth Certificate – Yes, this is necessary. The agency and your future employer need to know that the person before them is one and the same person; hence the submission of birth certificate. Take note that the birth certificate you will submit must be issued / authenticated by NSO, otherwise, it won’t be accepted.

4. School Credentials – Similar to applying for a job in the Philippines, you need to provide your school credentials such as transcript of record and diploma authenticated by the DepEd or CHED. Employers need to know how you were and school and use your school credentials as a gauge on whether or not you are qualified for the job. Keep in mind that foreign employers are not aware of the educational system in the Philippines, so provide as much information as you can.

5. Training Certificates – What did you do after school? Did you continue improving your skills by enrolling in classes or underwent training? If yes, make sure you include that in your file. Providing certificates from trainings or seminars attended leaves a good impression on foreign employers because it signifies that you are willing to improve yourself. Plus, not all companies have enough funds to train employees and showing them that you had the necessary trainings could seal the deal.

6. Employment Certificates – This is applicable if you have previous employment. This should include the company you worked for, the position held as well as job description, salary, and duration of employment among others. This gives future foreign employers a glimpse of how you were at work.

Other documents to be provided are:

  • NBI, Police, or Barangay Clearance
  • Marriage contract for female applicants
  • National Commission of Muslim Filipinos for Filipino applicants

Are your documents complete?

9 Tips to Get Your PAG-IBIG Housing Loan Approved

We get a lot of inquiries about PAG-IBIG Housing Loan for OFWs. This post is intended to boost your chances of approval, although not 100 percent guarantee. 

Are you planning to buy a new home for your family? What about extending your home to the recently acquired lot and have your house renovated? These situations entail cost, which also means big money is involved. In case you don’t have extra funds to do so, you rely on PAG-IBIG, the government agency responsible for providing accessible funds for housing for every Filipino.

According to the latest news from PAG-IBIG, the agency released more than P32.7 billion worth of housing loans for the first half of 2018 alone. This is not surprising since interest rate range from 5.35 percent to 10 percent with up to 30 years repayment terms. Compared to banks, PAG-IBIG offers the most affordable housing loan facility for all its members, including OFWs.

Here’s the challenge: how to get that much-needed approval.

Read up as we share tips that, although won’t guarantee 100 percent approval, but could boost your chances of getting that housing loan:

1. Prove that you have a stable source of income. 

This is a must. Despite the affordable rates to help you become a homeowner, it is important to show the agency that you are capable of paying.

When applying, make sure you provide a copy of your employment contract as well as other income documents that will prove how much you are earning. If you have an existing business, submit financial statements that reflect how much you earn. This will give PAG-IBIG an idea that you can pay the loan no matter what happens.

2. Any PAG-IBIG loans must be settled first. 

This is another must. In case you have previous and unpaid loans from PAG-IBIG, whether it;s a housing loan or multi-purpose loan, then make sure you pay up. Otherwise, this could be a good reason for the agency to deny your loan application.

3. Set a realistic loan amount. 

This is another mistake made by many loan applicants – aiming for the maximum loan amount to borrow. While PAG-IBIG offers up to P6 million, this doesn’t mean you will automatically qualify for it.

This is why it is important to submit proof of income to show the agency that you are capable of paying the loan, regardless of the amount. Don’t expect to get approved for P6 million when you are earning less than P100K every month. More importantly, use the online loan calculator in PAG-IBIG’s website to give you an idea on how much you need to earn to cover for the housing loan.

4. Pay for a higher down payment. 

Do you want to know a secret? If you want a housing loan approval from PAG-IBIG, then make sure you can pay a higher down payment.

PAG-IBIG could help you buy your dream home, but don’t put the burden on the agency. As much as possible, provide at least 20 percent equity or the value of the property. If you can pay more than 20 percent, then much better and higher chances of approval as well.

5. Apply with a co-borrower. 

Many people ask how they can avail of any type of loan when they don;t have property for collateral. The answer is simple – apply with a co-borrower. Still, it’s not just any co-borrower. S/he should be someone who is regularly employed and with excellent credit history if you want to increase your chances of approval.

“Can I apply with more than one borrower?” The answer is yes. In fact, PAG-IBIG allows up to two co-borrowers who are up to second-degree relatives to apply for a housing loan.

Tip: Consider getting a co-borrower who lives with your family. This way, s/he would be more willing to help you out.

6. Buy a home that is within your budget. 

You might want to buy that penthouse in a posh location in Makati, but can you actually afford the monthly amortization?

If you want approval from PAG-IBIG, then make sure you go for a house that you can afford to pay every month. It may not be your dream home, but going for a home that you can pay is much better than living in that dream home for only a few months because you can no longer pay for it monthly.

7. Improve your credit score. 

This is important. Your credit score will tell lenders like PAG-IBIG regarding your capacity to pay and how responsible you are as a borrower. If they see that you miss payments, then how do you expect the agency to approve your loan application?

Don’t worry. You can do something to improve your credit score by following these tips.

8. Submit all the requirements.

It sounds simple, but believe it or not, this could spell a big difference in your loan application.

What you can do is to make a checklist of all the requirements and use it as your guide before you submit your loan application. Compile everything in one envelope and make sure it is complete upon submission.

9. Attend the PAG-IBIG Housing Loan Program Orientation. 

Did you know that this orientation was mandatory before you apply for a loan? At present, the agency conducts free seminars to anyone who wants to apply for PAG-IBIG Housing Loan. This is a good opportunity for you to learn more about this facility and at the same time, get answers directly from PAG-IBIG officials.

Below are the schedules:

  • First and third Saturday of the month at 2/F, Jelp Business Solutions Building, 409 Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong City
  • Every second Saturday of the month at 3/F Lecture Hall A, Legislative Building, Quezon City Hall
  • Every third Saturday of the month at Rizal Provincial Capitol, Multi-purpose Hall, Antipolo City

Seminar is from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. If you want to join, make sure you’ll call them first at (02) 724-4244.

What You Need to Know about PDOS

Interview with employer, check. Medical exam, check. Submission of requirements, check.

Everything is complete and according to plan and the question now is when are you leaving. Before you leave the country, there is one step you need to do first: attend the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar or PDOS. 

Do I have to? Why is it necessary? How long will the seminar take? What will I learn from there?

These are some of the many questions this post will answer, so make sure to read until the end.

What is PDOS? 

It all started in the early 80s. By virtue of POEA MC No. 3, Series of 1983, the Philippine government made PDOS or the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar mandatory for all Filipinos working overseas. Up to this day, PDOS is a required one-day only seminar for all first-time Filipino workers of all skills leaving the country for overseas work.

The purpose of PDOS is to:

  • Provide OFWs with means and information to help cope with their new working environment, which are crucial during the first six months from deployment.
  • Addresses the basic needs and concerns for all OFWs, including adjustment difficulties.
  • Inform OFWs on who to call and what to do in case something happened abroad.

PDOS is country-specific and at times, skills-specific to ensure that you will be prepared by the time you were deployed. At present, PDOS is conducted by OWWA.

What are the modules involved?

  • Working Overseas – This tackles the cultural insights, Code of Discipline for OFWs, and religious policies of specific countries among others.
  • Employment Contract – It will discuss your rights and responsibilities as OFW, which must be embodied in your employment contract, as well as what to do in case of breach or violation of the terms in the contract.
  • Government Programs and Services – This includes both in-country and overseas services of the government, specifically the OWWA.
  • Important Reminders – This includes tips on financial planning, health tips, and tips when travelling.

What about PDOS for Seafarers? 

The Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar for Seafarers are, although mandatory, a bit different compared to other skilled workers. Modules include:

  • Government Programs and Services – Specifically OWWA services and other government-agencies involved in migration.
  • Standard Employment Contract – This will outline your rights and responsibilities as an OFW-seafarer as well as what to do in case of violation.
  • Financial Management – This will discuss financial planning and the importance of savings and investment.
  • Personal Health and Safety for Seafarers
  • Coping with Work and Living Conditions – This will tackle working hours and how to work in a multi-cultural environment
  • Travel Guide Do’s and Don’ts

What if you are rendering household work services? Instead of PDOS, Household Service Workers (HSWs) have their own version of PDOS called Comprehensive Pre-Departure Education Programs or CPDEP. 

This was established in 2007 and the purpose is not just to uphold and protect every HSW’s welfare but also to prepare them to stressful work conditions and environment while living in a foreign household. 

Modules for CPDEP includes:

  • Stress Management Seminar – This increases awareness among HSWs on causes of stress and its effects, mentally and emotionally prepare HSWs when facing challenges while working abroad, and the importance of having coping strategies and help in building new coping mechanisms.
  • Language and Culture Training – This will cover language courses for Arabic, Cantonese, Hebrew, Italian, and Mandarin.
  • Modules covered in the regular PDOS

Is it for free? 

The answer is yes, although you are still required to pay $25 OWWA membership fee.

Make sure you call OWWA hotline at (02) 891-7601 to ask for a schedule of country-specific PDOS. This is also on a first come, first serve basis, so make sure you ask for a schedule that is appropriate to your country destination.

At the end of the seminar, you will be given a Certificate of Completion, which you must also present at the airport upon departure.

More than the PDOS, it is imperative that you keep yourself informed about the country you’re going to. Make sure to read our OFW Guide to give you an idea on the living and working conditions in your country destination.

OFW Guide to Living and Working in UK

Big Ben, Harrods, Buckingham Palace – these are some of the many places you want to see when in United Kingdom or UK. Everything looks sophisticated and who knows, you might be able to see a real-life prince. More than the attractive destinations, UK is a haven for many Filipinos. Job opportunities are endless, especially for caregivers and health professionals.

If you’re thinking of working in the biggest island in Europe, then this one is for you.

Facts about United Kingdom

United Kingdom is a union of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. English (with distinct accent) is the major language, but you will hear people speak in Welsh and the Scottish form of Gaelic in certain areas.

Tip: Make sure you familiarize yourself with British terms. “Cupboard” means cabinet, “lift” is for elevators, and they use “pub” instead of club. 

Its form of government is Parliamentary (House of Commons and House of Lords) with constitutional monarch headed by Queen Elizabeth II.

Don’t worry too much about “locals” because UK, especially in London is a melting pot for people of all races. You will definitely have co-workers from different countries, so diversity will not be an issue.

Weather

The weather in UK is dictated by southwest winds off the North Atlantic. Rain is also evenly divided throughout the year, so make sure you always bring umbrella or raincoat even if it’s sunny because you’ll never know when it might rain.

Be careful during summer because unlike in the Philippines, summer in UK means temperature above 10 degrees Celsius.

Cost of Living 

Since the financial crisis in 2008, living in London can be too much for one’s pocket.

One of the most important things you need to budget is accommodation, which will take a big chunk of your salary. It is best to look for fellow Filipinos to share the rental fees with so you can trim accommodation expenses to £300 to £400 per month. Consider living in urban areas since rural areas tend to be more expensive.

You also have to worry about council taxes, which vary depending on where you live. The council taxes in London can be £150 per month but if you live somewhere in North, the taxes to be paid is around £70 a month.

In terms of food, UK is among the countries in Europe with the highest prices. You can opt for fast food but if you love your health, you would want to consider going to supermarkets and cook your own food. You’ll be able to save more. Oh, and British people prefer tea over coffee, so make sure you have a stash before you leave the Philippines.

Transportation 

You can find all sorts of transportation in UK, so going from point A to point B won’t be a hassle for you. Make sure you get a Travelcard since you can use it access the tube (subway), train, bus, and other modes of public transport. Depending on your location, you can spend approximately £80 per week for transportation expenses.

Ask your employer for transport services since some companies, especially hospitals, provide rail cards to assist in transport costs.

Entertainment

There is so much to see in UK, so take some time to explore them while you’re there. Get acquainted with their history by visiting museums. Unfortunately, entertainment is considered as a luxury because of the ticket prices, but it won’t hurt if you experienced watching a theater show at least once in your life, right?

Filipino Community

The good news is there is a solid Filipino community in UK, so make sure you make friends with them. It feels good to have a piece of home in a foreign place and the Filipino community can help you battle homesickness every time you feel like giving up.

Medical Exam: Another Step Closer to Your Dream of Working Overseas

Whether you plan to work here or overseas, medical exam will always be part of the requirements you need to accomplish before you can start work. In fact, medical exam is stricter for overseas workers because you need to ensure that you are physically fit to work. The difference in weather conditions could affect you and your employer needs to ensure that you can endure that. After all, you’re under contract, right?

That being said, here are things you need to know about medical examination for OFWs:

When to take a medical exam?

Apparently, it’s not as soon as possible. You can schedule for a medical exam either after receiving your job offer overseas or after signing the overseas employment contract. Ask your employer about this first since they might require certain clinics, especially if you are headed to any countries in the Middle East.

How much? 

This usually depends on the medical clinic. Nonetheless, it is best to prepare at least P1,500.00 to cover for all procedures like urine and fecal test, and drug test among others. Once completed, you will be given a medical exam certificate, which is valid for three months.

The medical exam fee will be shouldered by you. In case you were issued a medical certificate and it’s about to expire but you still can’t leave the country, you will be required to take another medical exam, but this time, it will be shouldered by the agency.

What happens during medical examination? 

Don’t worry. Medical exam for aspiring OFWs is similar to how medical examination is conducted for new employees. You will be asked to take laboratory exam like blood, urine, and fecal tests. Your vision, hearing, and oral health will likewise be checked.

Thereafter, physical examination will be conducted. This is to check the status of your physical health and the existence of medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, chronic renal failure, hypertension, and diabetes. You will also be asked to undergo psychological testing to make sure that you can cope and adapt with the new environment. Psychiatric diseases and neurological disorders are likewise prohibited from working overseas.

Medical exam varies per country. 

Every country that welcomes foreign workers has corresponding specifications and requirements in conducting medical examination.

For instance, if you are bound to Middle East countries specifically Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman, you should comply with the requirements set by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Accredited Medical Clinics Association or GAMCA. This way, the specified countries are assured that no foreign workers with sexually transmitted disease, tuberculosis, and pulmonary scar can enter their respective countries.

What is the essence of medical exam? 

The answer is simple: to ensure that you are fit to work. If the medical certificate reflects that you are physically fit to work abroad, then you can proceed to the next steps so you can leave on time and start your work overseas. Otherwise, your job offer will be cancelled (or delayed, depending on the findings of the medical clinic) if the medical exam revealed that you are suffering from a specific condition.

What does this mean then? Take care of your health, regardless if you are planning to work overseas or not. Health is wealth and don’t waste your hard-earned money by spending it on hospital bills and maintenance medications.

Types of Visa on Top OFW Destinations

How can you tell if a recruitment agency is legitimate or not? There are many factors to consider and one of them is the type of visa they issue. If you were given a tourist visa, then you’re in trouble. Legitimate recruitment agencies provide a working visa, depending on the needs of the country of destination.

We listed the types of visa required on top OFW destinations:

Saudi Arabia

  • Work visa – This is the type of visa required when you will work in Saudi Arabia for more than 180 days. Some of the documents you need to submit are employment contract, medical certificate, and attestation certificate of qualifications.
  • Working Visitor Visa – If you will stay in KSA for less than 180 days, then this type of visa is applicable for you. This is usually given to airline pilots and oil industry workers, and granted upon invitation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Hong Kong

  • Work Visa – This type of visa will be processed by future employers. Application process is four to six weeks and the duration of the work visa is the same as your employment contract. In case you were fired by your employer and you landed another job, then you should apply for a new employment visa under the current employer.
  • Domestic Help Visa – This type of visa is granted to OFWs who will conduct domestic work. It is valid for two years and the household worker must stay in employer’s home during that duration.

Singapore 

  • Employment Pass Scheme (EP) – This is the basic work permit issued to skilled workers who plan to work in Singapore. EP will be issued to those who have above SGD 3,000 monthly salary, a degree holder from a reputable university, and has relevant work experience. EP is valid for maximum of two years and may be renewed thereafter, provided that you will stay with the same employer.
  • Personalized Employment Pass Scheme (PEP) – This special work permit is for those who are not tied to a single employer. This means you can switch jobs as long as the work gap period does not exceed six months. PEP is valid for three years and non-renewable, but may be allowed to apply for permanent residency.
  • S Pass Scheme – This type of visa is for mid-skilled employees with monthly salary of SGD 2,200 and above. Although a college degree is not required, holders of this type of visa must have a technical diploma. This is valid for one to two years and may be renewed as long as the applicant stays with the same employer. You may apply for permanent residency after as long as you prove that you have a stable job.
  • Miscellaneous Work Pass Scheme – This type of working visa is given to foreigners with short-term job assignment in Singapore like attending or conducting a seminar, conference, or workshop.

United Kingdom 

  • Tier 2 (General) – This type of visa will be granted to those who were offered skilled work and has a licensed sponsor (with accompanying Certificate of Sponsorship). This is valid for up to three years.
  • Tier 5 – This type of working visa will be given if you will conduct charity work, will be assigned in UK office, creative or sporting jobs, and other temporary work.

Kuwait 

  • Visa 17 (Public Sector Employees) or Visa 18 (Private Sector Employees)  – This is the iqama granted to OFWs. Once you accepted an employment offer, your Kuwaiti employer / sponsor will apply for your work permit at the Ministry of Social Affairs & Labor. Thereafter, you will be required to submit other documentation requirements before you can go to Kuwait.
  • Visa 20 – This type of visa is for domestic helpers. The resident will sponsor for this type of visa.

United States of America

  • H-1B (Specialty Occupation) – This is for those who have professional job offer. You must also have a bachelor’s degree in the job specialization you applied for.
  • H-2A (Seasonal Agricultural Workers) – An American employer sponsors a worker for a temporary job in the agricultural industry, especially when there are no more US workers available.
  • H-2B (Skilled and Non-Skilled Workers) – This type of working visa will be given to workers for temporary or seasonal job in US.
  • H-3 (Trainee)  If you will be trained by your employer in the US, then this type of visa will be given to you. H-3 visa is only valid for up to two years.