6 Business Ideas for OFW Spouses for Extra Cash this Christmas

Holiday is just around the corner. Is your wallet ready?

Normally, you would depend on your spouse for money. While s/he would gladly send money for use, you have to remember all the hardships and sacrifices s/he has to go through just to ensure your family’s welfare and future. The least you can do is to not just save whatever you can but also help with the expenses.

In what way, you might ask.

The answer is simple: try putting up your own business. 

Don’t be scared. There are business ideas you can try with little capital required. The best part is you get to help your spouse pay for the expenses, especially during the Christmas season.

Here’s what you can do:

1) Bake Your Famous Cookies 

… or brownies, or cakes, or whatever works for you. Since it’s Christmas season, fruit cake, leche flan, and ube halaya are surefire hits as well. The point is baking could give you additional income during the Christmas since many people are willing to pay for convenience. Plus, baked goods are a hit during the holidays because everyone, regardless of the age bracket, will appreciate it.

If you perfected the recipe, then go ahead and sell it. Who doesn’t want a cookie from the cookie jar, right?

2) Party Trays at Their Service

If baking isn’t your forte, then that’s fine. You prefer to cook more and you can turn your kitchen skills into cash.

Offering packed lunches is one way to earn. Since it’s the season for parties, why not try party trays instead? Post your party tray services on your Facebook account and ask friends and family to help you advertise. If you get it right, this could turn into full-fledged business, which means additional capital for you.

3) Give the Gift of Scent

Who doesn’t want to smell good? Apparently, perfume, particularly those with popular names, can be expensive. Since your spouse is abroad, why not ask him to send perfumes over and you can sell it prices cheaper than malls?

If you want to keep it local, then there are perfume-making trainings you can attend to that will train you not just how to make perfume but also give you an idea regarding storage and costing.

If perfume is not your thing, then try soaps or dishwashing liquid. This could be a good income generator as well.

4) Gift Wrapping Services 

Do you enjoy wrapping presents and making something wonderful out of ordinary Christmas wrappers and ribbons? Now is the perfect time to showcase that talent.

Wrapping gifts take time, which explains why there are people who are willing to pay for it. If you are willing to take the burden off them, then offer gift wrapping services. Plus, don’t you think it’s fun to bring out your creative juices?

5) Try Your Hand on Recycled Packaging

Too much garbage is found everywhere. Do your share of saving Mother Earth by using used or recycled materials and turning it into an attractive packaging. Boxes or bottles are in demand this Christmas season, especially for people who are not into wrapping gifts (another reason why gift wrapping services are in during the holidays.).

Instead of the usual box or jars, decorate it and sprinkle your creative touch to make the packaging itself good enough to give and no gift wrapper required. Your friends could be your customers, but don’t be afraid to sell this to other people and online.

6) Sweet Ham will Always be a Hit 

Let’s say you love to cook but you find preparing party trays tedious. That’s fine. You might want to get your hands into making sweet ham, which is another favorite during the holiday season.

Sweet ham may have a standard taste, so what will set your product apart from the rest is the sauce for the ham. Check out ham sauce recipes online and make adjustments to it or make one from scratch. The best part about this is that little capital is required.

The bottom line is be creative and think of ways on how to earn extra while helping your spouse. Don’t count money yet because the goal is to help augment expenses during the holiday season. Once everything is settled, who knows, you could turn this into a business.

Are you ready to earn extra this Christmas?

OFW Guide to Living and Working in New Zealand

Perhaps, it was that scene in Lord of the Rings that makes you want to visit New Zealand and if possible, to even work there. More than the scenery, New Zealand is a favorite among expats, not just Filipinos but also citizens from other countries – and it’s not surprising why.

For starters, New Zealand is the safest country in the world. Second, the people are among the friendliest and most open-minded ones. Third, you will never run out of beautiful sceneries to see.

If you plan to work in New Zealand, then here are some of the things you need to know first about this country:

General Facts

New Zealand is a sovereign island country located in the southwest of Pacific Ocean. With Wellington as its capital city, the country has Australia, Fiji, and Tonga as its neighbors. Because of its remoteness, New Zealand was one of the last lands occupied by early humans. This isolation allowed the inhabitants to develop a distinct biodiversity of biological life.

Its form of government is unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy. This means legislative authority is vested on a unicameral Parliament, executive authority on the Cabinet led by a Prime Minister, and Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of State.

At present, New Zealand is among the countries that offer the best health care, education, highest economic freedom, and overall quality of life; hence making the country one of the top expat destinations. In case you plan to migrate with your family for good, then you’ll be happy to see that New Zealand is among, if not the top country to raise a family around the world.


Since it was under British rule until 1947, English is widely spoken in New Zealand. This means you won’t have a hard time conversing with the people. Aside from English, Maori is also one of the two official languages, but this one is seldom used.

Since 2006, the government also recognized New Zealand Sign Language as among their modes of communication.

Cost of Living 

New Zealand among the developed countries with highest cost of living standards, especially if you will live in major cities like Auckland and Wellington. This is due to stronger economy and increase in accommodation cost / rental property and demand.

Still, living in rural areas would mean lower cost of living compared to living in the city.

Public Transportation

Despite New Zealand being a developed country, it’s public transport system is not at par with that of Japan or even Hong Kong.

If you work in New Zealand, you will notice that most people bring their own cars since it is the most convenient way to go from A to B. Surprisingly, only Wellington and Auckland have suburban rail system, but if you will live and work outside the big cities, then public transportation is limited. There are buses that connect the cities, but having your own car is the best way to go around.

In case you will cross the island, ferry system is available at your disposal.

Of course, it is impractical for you to buy a car when you are only limited to two years contract. Big cities have buses, but make sure you ask your employer regarding transportation benefits.


You will enjoy the climate in New Zealand. Climate is mild and adjusting to it won’t be much of an issue. Still, rains and snowfall can be prominent, especially on mountainous areas so don’t forget to pack your thermal jacket in case you will work nearby.

Working in New Zealand

Don’t get too excited yet. Working in New Zealand is not as simple as submitting your resume. Before you apply, you need to check if your skills are among those posted by Immigration authorities in the Essential Skills in Demand List. The list shows jobs wherein even New Zealanders cannot fulfill the job or there are no locals available to take the job.

If your skills and qualifications match what were indicated in the list, then you can apply for Essential Skills Work Visa. When you apply for this type of visa, you should have a confirmed job offer and signed employment contract. The duration of the visa varies, although some have a maximum of three years. In case your work visa is good for more than two years, then you may qualify for the government’s healthcare benefits in case something happens.

Aside from the Essential Skills list, you may also be asked to undergo Labor Market Test before the work visa will be issued to you.

Looking for a job in New Zealand – or any other countries in and out of the Philippines – is not easy. Make use of your spare time honing your skills, attending trainings, and taking advantage of (free) seminars to improve your skills. Employers would love to see your willingness to learn.

4 Business Ideas You Can Do for Extra Cash this Christmas

Can you hear the Christmas bells ringing already? Here in the Philippines, Jose Mari Chan’s famous Christmas in our Hearts and other popular hits are already played constantly in malls. Even if you are on the other side of the world, your Christmas spirit has not and will never die down because let’s face it, iba talaga ang Pasko sa Pilipinas.

Still, Christmas equates to spending. At this point, you need to start making a list and checking it twice because your hard-earned money will be spent buying gifts for your family back home. Instead of using your Emergency Fund (and we assume you have one), you can try getting a sideline for additional cash.

Here are some business ideas you can try:

1. Buy and Sell 

One of the good things about working overseas is that you find items that are not available in the Philippines. Take advantage of that by selling hard-to-find products for extra cash. Or you can do the other way around by selling Filipino products to your friends and colleagues overseas. Going online may be your first option especially if you will sell items from overseas, but don’t forget that old school selling where you are face-to-face with your customers is still effective.

Either way, you will earn so make sure you take advantage of it, especially during the Christmas season.

2. Use Your Photography Skills 

Are you into photography? If yes, then now is the perfect time to use it for extra cash.

You can offer themed photography sessions to your colleagues for affordable fee. Since you are already abroad, choose a place where the background or scenery would look good on pictures and work your magic there. You can also tap immigrant families since they surely want to send photos that show a glimpse of their new life to their relatives in the Philippines.

Word of mouth travels fast and who knows, this could also launch your photography career.

3. Turn Creativity into Cash 

Do you love making cards? Then offer personalized card-making services, which your OFW fellows could send back home to their respective families. This is better since the message comes from the heart and not just written by a company.

If they think that going Hallmark is dead, then you can also try making personalized gift tags, which your colleagues could use especially when sending gifts back home. You can also offer this service to your supervisors since surely, they would want to send gifts with personalized gift tags on it.

Scrapbook making can also be another business idea you can try. The drawback is this would take a lot of your time.

If you find it tedious, then try decorating services. Some families may not have the time to set up their homes just in time for Christmas, so this would be a great opportunity to showcase your skills – for additional fee, of course.

4. Food won’t Let You Down

Everybody eats. Since it’s Christmas season, Filipino communities all over the world love get togethers since it gives them a taste of home.

If you are good in the kitchen or mastered several dishes, then take advantage of that and offer party trays for a fee. Don’t forget to leave your contact details so they could refer you to future events.

If baking is your thing, then bake your famous goodies and sell it. If you want to set yourself apart from the rest of the bakers, then try coming up with your own flavors. This way, they can easily identify you and the product you’re offering.

There’s no right or wrong when it comes to business. What matters is your willingness to learn and take risks for better and more secure financial future of your family. In case you need additional  funds, Balikbayad is here to help. Fill out our online application for pre-approval and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Prepare for Medical Emergency with the Help of These Tips

You’ll hear this countless times but it’s true – you will never know what the future brings. This is why it is important to prepare for it because you’ll never know if someone in the family, including you, will get sick.

We know how challenging it is for you to save. Despite working overseas and earning more (and in dollars too), you barely have anything left in case emergency strikes. In fact, one of the most common concerns we read is lack of funds (and whether or not OWWA could offer monetary help) in case someone in the family had a medical emergency.

Why seek for help when you can do something about it beforehand, right? Here are several ways you can do to help you prepare for medical emergency:

1. Build an Emergency Fund

We always stress the importance of having an Emergency Fund. From the name itself, you know that this fund can be used in case of emergency, which could happen anytime. Ideally, an Emergency Fund must be at least three months worth of your monthly salary or higher.

To build this fund, make sure to set aside a portion of your savings every month. Start small and eventually increase your contribution. It would also work if you automate your savings to ensure that money, no matter how small the amount is, will be deposited.

In case you have loose change, place it inside the piggy bank intended for Emergency Fund. Money is still money.

2. Get a Life Insurance 

The truth is your Emergency Fund can be easily wiped out in case of a medical emergency. This is why before you leave the country, make sure to get a life insurance first. This could serve as you buffer or a safety net in case something happens to you or any member of your family.

Insurance companies offer specific policies for OFWs, thereby offering better or more benefits compared to the typical policies. For instance, AXA Philippines has Health Exentials.

Tip: Go for VUL insurance policy. Aside from the insurance aspect, you get to earn money because a portion of this is invested.

3. Consider a Prepaid Health Card

Health insurance can be expensive, especially if you want to extend the coverage to every member of the family. If you want a more affordable alternative, then consider prepaid health card.

Prepaid health cards could range from P500 to P20,000, which varies per insurance company. This amount could be helpful during trips to the emergency room, accidents, sudden hospitalization, or even preventive care. The best part is you can buy and register online, so make sure you get one for your family before you leave.

4. Update Your Philhealth Membership

This is a must. In case of medical emergency, Philhealth could be helpful in lending a hand to cover for your hospital fees. Before you enjoy the benefits, you need to make sure that your status has changed to OFW and that your contributions are updated.

What makes Philhealth special as well is that you can nominate dependents who could receive the same benefits like you do as well as a separate Philhealth coverage of up to 45 days every year.

Nonetheless, benefits are limited to:

  • Legal spouse who is not a Philhealth member
  • Legitimate and illegitimate children who are below 21 years old and are currently unmarried and unemployed
  • Foster child
  • Children above 21 years old but with congenital disability
  • Parents with permanent disability
  • Parents above 60 years of age and are not members of Philhealth.

Don’t forget to update your Member Records by filling out the Member Registration Form and submit it together with proof of relationship (birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc) to the nearest Philhealth office. This way, your family members will enjoy the same benefit even if you are miles away.

You also have the option to pay your contributions in full for one year (or more, depending on you). This way, you won’t forget whether or not you already paid your contributions.

4 Ways to Give Love to Your Family this Christmas Even from Afar

Two more months and it’s already Christmas? Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? If not, then don’t worry. You still have time.

Christmas is the time when many OFWs head back home to be with their loved ones even for a few days. Unfortunately, not all are allowed to go home. In case you are one of them, don’t worry. You can still show your love to your family even if you are miles away.

Here’s how you can do it:

Send gifts back home. 

This is the most obvious way to show that you care for your family back home. Sending gifts make your family feel that you think of them and care about their happiness. Giving gifts must be carefully thought out to make sure that not only it will fit every member’s personality and interests but also they will appreciate what you gave and treasure it. This will add more value to the material thing.

Still, don’t shower them with too much material things, especially if it means you have to spend every centavo in your salary and savings account. Set a budget and pay in cash.

Do things together as a family. 

Video call is invented for a reason. Take advantage of that by using this tool to bond with your family especially come Christmas time. Opt for a video call and do things together as if you are home. You can watch a movie as a family (make sure you watch the same show or movie), put up Christmas decorations in the house (both in the Philippines and your place overseas), or cook Noche Buena virtually together. Even if you are afar, doing things together will make you feel closer to home and will surely make your presence felt.

Remember this: the most expensive thing you can give to someone is the gift of time. Give it to your family because time spent can never be taken back. Use it wisely.

Write handwritten letters. 

Technology does make communication easier. Instead of buying a prepaid card for overseas call, all you need is a decent Internet connection and you can call your family anytime of the day without spending too much.

Still, this doesn’t mean there is no more room for writing letters. In fact, another way of showing your love this Christmas is by writing them a personal letter. Use it as an opportunity to tell them how much you love and care for them, especially when you can’t say it out loud during your phone and video calls.

The best part is your family gets to keep the letter/s after all these years. This is something they could easily go back to when they misses you.

Keep communication lines open. 

This is important. Being apart doesn’t mean you should not be updated with what is happening to your family. Listen to how their day went and share them about your day and experiences as well.

Take lots of photos, especially if you plan to visit tourist spots during off days, and send the photos to them. Don’t forget to write a note saying that you love to bring them there someday. At the same time, ask for their photos. You care about your family and this includes knowing the things happening to them.

Nothing and no one can ever replace your presence especially this Christmas. It could be disheartening and depressing since this is the season where you should be with your family, if not for the circumstances. Even if you are miles away, this doesn’t mean your presence should not be felt. Remember these tips to make them feel your love this Christmas.

OFW Guide to Living and Working in Macau

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “casino?” Normally, you would associate it with Las Vegas since that is where the biggest casinos are found, right?

Well, you don’t have to go to another continent just to plat the slot machine and Blackjack. Macau, which is also known as the “Las Vegas of Asia,” is few hours away from the Philippines and more than the casinos, it offers tons of job opportunities for Filipinos. There are many jobs waiting in the services, tourism, and hospitality sector, which accounts for Macau’s biggest source of income, but professional and skilled workers are likewise welcome.

If you are ready to see bright lights at night and give Macau a try, here are some things you need to know about this small but proud Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China:


Mandarin and Cantonese are the primary languages in Macau; however, you would notice signs and some people still written and speaking Portuguese. English is also widely spoken, especially since Macau is among the tourists’ favorite destination.

Still, it wouldn’t hurt if you learn few Mandarin and Cantonese words, even the basic ones, so you will be able to communicate with the people properly and easily.


Normally, foreign workers are provided living quarters by their respective employers. This is especially true if you are working in the hotel industry. In case none is provided, there are apartments available that you can rent. Many apartments have basic appliances like fridge and washing machine, but if you need more, then you will have to pay for it.


Public transportation in  Macau is commendable compared to the Philippines. Buses and cabs are available 24 hours, thereby making commuting easier and more convenient for you.

If you employer offers shuttle services, then make sure you take advantage of it to save more.

Working Condition 

Unlike in the Philippines, there is no mandatory minimum wage set in Macau, except for cleaners and security guards (about USD 3.75 per hour). It’s up to the employers as to how much they will pay you every month. Average monthly salary is MOP 17,000 or approximately USD 2,100. If you work in the gaming and recreational services, finance industry, or in the health and social services, you could be earning more since these are the industries that pay more to its workers.

The good thing is that the cost of living in Macau is lower compared to its neighboring countries like Hong Kong and Singapore. Despite earning lower, you will still be able to live a comfortable life and pay for the expenses while you’re working there.

Long working hours are something you need to prepare for as well. Most workers work six days a week and longer hours, especially if you work in the tourism sector. Nonetheless, workers are entitled to six working days of paid leave, eight statutory holidays, and 24 hours of rest day for every seven days of work. This is a big adjustment since rest days are handled differently in the Philippines.

At the end of the day, the locals will be favored more by employers. This is why it would be extra challenging for you to climb the ladder of success. Nonetheless, treat this as your stepping stone and part of your work experience.


Macau has a subtropical climate. This means summer could be hot and humid. It doesn’t snow in Macau, so no need to pack thermal jackets. Still, the wind can be cold by December to February, so make sure you have jacket on hand to keep you warm.

Working Visa

A valid working visa is required before you can work in Macau. Consequently, you should be registered as a full-time employee and carry with you a Blue Card. Don’t worry since this will be processed by your employer through the help of your recruitment agency.

Are you ready to work in Macau?

OFW ID: What is it anyway?

Did you know that there are more than 10 million Filipinos working overseas? These are the documented ones and surely, there are tons of others out there who are undocumented.

READ: Dangers of Being an Undocumented OFW

What’s your proof that you are a documented Overseas Filipino Worker? OEC is one, which means you went through the legitimate process. Apart from OEC, it turns out that you will be given an OFW ID of iDOLE ID.

What is an OFW ID? 

The OFW ID is part of the unified ID system for OFWs that will eventually replace the (outdated) OEC system. It aims to lessen the burden among OFWs through the unified ID system and at the same time, streamlines the process every OFW have to go through just to be able to work overseas.

Benefits of OFW ID includes:

  • The unified ID system lessens paperworks, which means documentary process will be easier and more convenient not just for the worker but also for the appropriate government agencies.
  • Online access to concerned agencies such as OWWA, POEA, DFA, and the Bureau of Immigration among others. Once you created an account though the iDOLE system, all of the data collected about you from various agencies will be consolidated into a single system, specifically iDOLE OFW Identification Card system, for easier access.
  • Easier processing and payment of mandatory contributions such as SSS, PAG-IBIG, and Philhealth.
  • The OFW ID replaces the Overseas Employment Certificate, thereby reducing additional paperwork (and wasted time) before you leave abroad.. Similar to OEC, the ID will exempt you from travel tax and airport terminal fee.

There are two ways to apply for iDOLE ID – online and offline application.

How to Apply for OFW ID offline:

1. Prepare the following documents:

  • Two valid IDs, preferably issued by the government
  • Overseas employment certificate
  • If applying overseas, bring your passport

2. Visit any DOLE office, either main branch or regional office, and submit the documents. If applying overseas, you can apply in the POEA office in the country where you are located.

3. The officer-in-charge will verify your status through the POEA listing. Once verified, an ID will be issued and wait for your turn to be called.

How to Apply for OFW ID online:

Keep in mind that before you apply for OFW ID online, you still need to acquire your OEC first. Once you secured an OEC, you can now apply for OFW ID online by following these steps:

1. Visit the iDOLE website and click Create an Account. 

2. On the dropdown box, choose Valid OEC Number. If you are unsure of your OEC number, you can get a copy through the Balik Manggagawa Online Processing System.

3. Fill out the appropriate details such as name, birthdate, email address, mobile number, and password. Then, click Register OFW Account. 

4. Check your email and click the confirmation link to be able to log-in to your iDOLE account.

5. Once you logged in, on the “iDOLE One Stop Shop,” choose OFW ID Card. 

6. Choose the delivery type of your ID. You can pick it up at your Philpost branch or site. Click Submit. 

7. A window will pop saying “Your OFW ID has been generated successfully.” Take note of the OFW ID number and confirmation details. It is also best to print the details since you will need to present the printout when claiming your OFW ID.

Take note that getting an OFW ID is FREE of charge. Take advantage of this to be able to enjoy the benefits. Plus, the ID will be a permanent document that legitimizes the status of a Filipino worker, so it is best to get one.

Have you tried getting an OFW ID? If yes, we would love to read your thoughts and stories about how you acquired it (as well as any delays) on the comments section.

From OFW to Entrepreneur: Are You Ready for It?

Admit it. Working overseas can be tiring and overwhelming. Plus, you miss your family so bad and you want to be with them. Apparently, there are mouths to feed and bills to be paid. Plus, you want to make sure that your family, especially your kids or younger siblings, will have a secure future. This is why you are willing to take the sacrifices to ensure everyone’s welfare.

Still, you can’t be an OFW forever. At one point, you have to come home and build a life in the Philippines instead of depending on an employment overseas that may or may not happen. This is why it is important to start saving early and thinking of putting your money into something more sustainable, like a business.

The question now is are you ready for it? 

Well, you need to satisfy these qualifications first:

Minimum of Six Months-Worth of Emergency Fund

One of the funds you need to prepare for is an emergency fund. You will never know what would happen, so it is best to prepared. Plus, not all businesses will succeed especially during the first year, which is why it is imperative that you have a fund that will keep you covered in case you hit a roadblock.

If you’re not convinced, then here is another reason why you need to have an EF: you could use the funds for additional working capital instead of borrowing. At least you don’t have to worry about interest rate, right?

Two Words: Financial Stability

This is the first thing you need to look into before you start with your business. In fact, you should be financially stable wherein a fixed amount of money comes in every month.

What does financial stability means? It’s about being free from debt, regardless of the kind loan. This way, when you decide to borrow money for additional working capital, you only have ONE loan to worry about.

Being financially stable also means you already diversified investments that are currently earning. You can check out this post about investment options to help you get started.

If you insist on putting up your own business even with existing loans, then at least make sure that you qualify the first requirement, which is having an emergency fund.

You Know What to Pursue

There are tons of businesses you can do. You might also be inspired by the many rags-to-riches stories, which is why you want to take your cue from them.

Is that what you really want?

Before you go home, make sure you know what you want to accomplish. At this point, you should have a business idea with a defined strategy on how to make it happen, including suppliers, marketing techniques, a defined demographic, and where to sell your product or service. Quitting your work overseas without having a clear, defined business plan is a big risk. You need to be sure first before you kiss your job goodbye.

You Understand How the Business Works

The difference between being an entrepreneur and an OFW is that being a business owner is a 24/7 job. You don’t get mandated off days and you have to work day in and day out to make sure that your business thrives. This is why you need to be equipped with necessarily business knowledge to make sure that you will succeed in this endeavor.

Eventually, problems will come along. You need to be able to solve this instead of quitting and saying you’re done with business. If that is your point of view, then you are surely better off working overseas because that’s not what a successful businessman will do.

The key here is to start small first. Also, don’t give up everything yet just to make this entrepreneurial dream happen. Take it slow and eventually, your dream of having your own business will come true.

OFW Guide to Living and Working in Spain

History tells us that Philippines was conquered by Spain for more than 300 years. Since then, there’s always a special relationship between the two countries, which lure people to come and visit. By visit, this also means getting a job.

Did you know that despite the “conflict” in Catalonia, Spain is among the favorite destination of expats too compared to France and United Kingdom?

So, what can you see in Spain anyway? Should you decide to give it a try, what are the things you need to know and expect while you’re there?

Read this post to find out.

General Facts

The largest country in Southern Europe, Spain is a secular parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy with separate Heads of State and Government. Its neighboring countries include Portugal, Morocco, and France, as well as near the Mediterranean Sea.

Spain is also strategically located in the Iberian peninsula, which also explains its diversity in flora and fauna. Believe it or not, this diversity is also among the reasons why travelers frequent the country every year.


Spanish, one of the widely spoken language in the world, is the official language in Spain. If you are still struggling, then don’t worry. English is still widely spoken, although it won’t hurt if you take some time to learn Spanish.  There are classes offered in Spain, which you might want to take advantage of. This will make it easier for you to converse and interact with the people. At the same time, you give yourself an edge because you can add another language under your belt.

Nonetheless, it would be different if you will work in Catalonia (yes, where Barcelona is). Catalan is their official language, as evidenced by public signs, public notices, and the language spoken in schools.


This varies per region. Anadalusia in Catalonia is popular for its sandy beaches and warm climate, which makes it easier for you to adjust. Nonetheless, summer is cooler in Spain than in the Philippines, so better bring a jacket.

Work Permit

Apparently, working in Spain, or at least getting a work visa is not as easy as it seems. Your foreign employer should request a work permit on your behalf so that you can legally work there starting with Authorization to Work. There is a higher chance of getting approved if the job you applied for is listed as a Shortage Occupation or there is no one qualified from Spain or anyone from the European Union countries to do the job.

As soon as you are cleared and authorized to work, you can now apply for a work permit along with residence permit. Nonetheless, your employer needs to inform the Ministry of Labor about your employment.

Take note that work permit is good for one year and renewable thereafter.

Identity Card 

This is important. As soon as you arrive in Spain, you must apply for Foreigner’s Identity Card (TIE/NIE) either through local Foreigner’s Office (Oficina den Extranjeros) or local police where you are located. This must be done within 30 days from arrival in Spain. This will allow you to open a bank account, register for social services, pay taxes, and get paid for employment among others.

Spain’s healthcare system is among the best in the world and if you want to get access to that, then make sure you register so you can get your identity card.

Cost of Living 

Believe it or not, Spain is relatively cheaper compared to other EU countries, at least in terms of cost of living. Accommodation, transportation, food, and utilities are more affordable, which means you could be able to send more back home (but don’t give everything to them). Still, it is best to share expenses with someone so you don’t have to carry all the burden.


Working in Spain allows you to immerse in their rich culture and architecture, especially if you will be based in Barcelona. Nonetheless, be prepared to go sightseeing during your off days, indulge in authentic Spanish food such as tapas and paella, visit museums, or watch a concert. Make time to visit festivals since Spain is known for that. After all, you also deserve a break.

Apparently, Spanish take siesta seriously, with some establishments even closing their stores. This is important for them because work-life balance is something Spanish people are proud of. This could mean downtime too, so make sure you make the most out of your time by, say getting a sideline.

Are your bags packed and ready to go?

Balik Manggagawa OEC Exemption for Returning OFWs

One of the most important documents Overseas Filipino Workers should have is the Overseas Employment Certificate or OEC. This document not only legitimizes your status as an OFW but also gives you exemption on fees. This means you don’t have to pay for airport fee or transfer tax, which could cost you thousands of pesos.

Here’s the thing: getting your OEC is not a walk in the park. Believe it or not, it could take you one whole day just to get your OEC. Some even say that they cannot get it on the same day.

The good news is there are exemptions. If you are a returning OFW and you meet the criteria, you can be exempted from getting an OEC.

Who can get an OEC exemption?

The returning OFW or Balik-Manggagawa must meet ALL of the requirements:

  • Valid working visa
  • Returning to the same employer
  • Returning to the same job site
  • Has an existing record in the POEA database, which means an OEC was previously issued to you

If you meet all of the requirements, then yes, you can be exempted from getting an Overseas Employment Certificate. The even better news is that you don’t have to go to POEA, line up, and wait for the entire day to get your OEC exemption. In fact, you can do this online.

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Get OEC Exemption: 

Step 1: Register.

Go to BM Online Website and fill out the New User field box. Once you filled out the necessary information, click the “I Accept the Terms of Service” and “Sign Me Up” button.

At this point, a confirmation link will be sent to the email address you provided. Make sure to check your email immediately and click the link to activate your BM Online account.

Step 2: Log-in. 

You will be redirected to a separate tab showing that you successfully activated your BM Online account. Log-in using the e-mail address and password you typed when registering for a BM online account. Click “Login.” 

Step 3: OEC Number Verification. 

Once you log-in, an OEC Number Verification pop-up screen will appear. Simply enter the last OEC number issued to you to continue.

The system will give you an update whether or not they found your OEC. If your record is found, confirm that you are returning to the same employer and job site. Then, click the “Yes” button.

Step 4: Update Profile Page.

To continue, don’t forget to update your My Profile page, including Personal Data, Contract Particulars, and Legal Beneficiaries forms. To make the necessary changes, click the “Edit” button.

Change your profile picture by uploading your photo.

Step 5: Acquire OEC Exemption. 

Thereafter, click “Acquire OEC or Exemption.” 

A new window will appear. Enter your flight details. Take note that it should be within 60-day OEC validity period. Click the “Submit” button thereafter.

Don’t forget to make a final confirmation that you will be returning to the same employer and job site by clicking the “Yes” button.

Step 6: Confirmation Message 

After assessment, a confirmation message showing that your are exempted will pop up on your screen. Take note and write down the OEC Exemption Number (this number will be automatically transmitted to the Bureau of Immigration system) since this might be asked. Take time to read the instructions on what to do in the airport as well.

Acquiring OEC exemption is easy. In fact, the system will automatically tell you if you are exempted or not upon log-in.

On the other hand, there are cases when you need to set up an appointment to acquire OEC. This instances include:

  • You did not receive a pop-up confirmation message.
  • The system found no record of your OEC number.
  • You are not returning to the same employer OR job site OR both.
  • Workers with no existing records or has discrepancy in records with the POEA.

For further questions, you can check out POEA’s FAQ post on OEC Exemption.