Red Ribbon: Authenticating Documents at the Department of Foreign Affairs

Working overseas means earning in dollars, which also means bigger earning. This will allow you to secure a better life and future for your family because you get to earn more than usual. Apparently, the path towards greener pastures is not easy.

To begin with, applying for a job does not automatically equate to employment. You have to go through a rigid screening process to ensure that you are qualified for the job. Also, you need to submit tons of documents that will show not just who you are but also your capabilities.

Don’t take this lightly. There are employers who prefer documents that are authenticated by the country’s Foreign Affairs department, also known as red ribbon. This is to ensure that the documents submitted are authentic and zgenuine.

The question now is how does this work? 

Documents that can be Authenticated

1. Birth, Marriage, Death certificate, or Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) and/or Negative Records

– Take note that the document/s must be printed in the security paper issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority, (PSA, formerly NSO). In case the document on hand is registered with the Local Civil Registrar (LCR) within six months from date of registration, it must be authenticated by the PSA.

2. Transcript of Records (TOR) or Diploma

– If from state college or university, submit Certified True Copy from the school AND Certification, Authentication, and Verification (CAV) from the school and signed by School / University Registrar and/or the school’s authorized signatory

– If from private school, college, or university, Certified True Copy from the school AND CAV from Commission on Higher Education (CHED) where the school is located

– If for technical or vocational course, Certified True Copy from the school AND CAV from TESDS where the school is located.

– Form 137 and Diploma for Elementary and High School Level, Certified True Copy from the school AND CAV from DepEd Regional Office where the school is located

3. Medical / AIDS-Free Certificate

– Document must be certified / authenticated by the Department of Health

4. Driver’s License

– Must come with accompanying certification from LTO (Main branch only)

5. Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) issued licenses

– Must be certified / authenticated by CAAP

6. Professional License / Board Certificate or Ratings / Certifications

– Document must be certified / authenticated by the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC)

7. NBI Clearance

– The clearance issued must be in green and issued by the NBI

8. Certificate of Employment, Seminar, Training / Baptismal Certificate / Other documents issued by a private entity

– Notarized affidavit, which states factual circumstances and that the documents are considered as attachment/s

– Certificate of Authority for a Notarial Act (CANA) signed by Executive / Vice Executive Judge from the Regional Trial Court that issued the commission of the Notary Public

We only listed documents that are relevant when applying for a job overseas. For a complete list of documents that can be authenticated, please check this link

How to Process Authentication of Documents

1. Go to Authentication Services at the DFA Main Consular Services between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Aside from the Main Branch, the following DFA Consular Services can also process authentication:

  • DFA NCR-Northeast (Alimall, Cubao, Quezon City)
  • DFA NCR-East (SM Megamall)
  • DFA NCR-West (SM Manila)
  • DFA NCR-South (Alabang Town Center)

2. Fill out the application form from sections A to C. You can get a copy of the application here.

3. Proceed to the Processing Window and submit your application form and the document/s that need/s to be authenticated.

4. Pay for the corresponding fees at the cashier. Authentication fee is P100 per document, which will be released after four working days. If you want it expedited, pay P200 per document and you can get it the next working day.

Things to Remember when Claiming Authenticated Documents

  • Keep the Official Receipt. Said OR will be surrendered at the Releasing Drop Box. 
  • Present a valid ID at the Releasing Window. Check out this list of acceptable IDs by the DFA.
  • Check the document/s released to ensure that you got the right one.

What if you cannot personally process and/or claim the authentication of documents? 

That’s fine. Below is the procedure on how to process / claim authentication of documents on someone else’s behalf:

1. Present the original copy of the Special Power of Attorney from the owner of the document/s clearly indicating the name of the representative. If the owner is out the country, the SPA must be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate.

2. Present a photocopy of the applicant’s valid ID with signature.

3. Submit a photocopy of the representative’s valid ID with signature.

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.

Language

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.

Weather

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.

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:

Language

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.

Accommodation

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.

Transportation

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.

Weather

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 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.

Language 

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.

Weather 

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.

Culture 

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.

OFW Guide to Living and Working in South Korea

Koreanovelo and K-pop music are taking the world by storm. This is why it’s not surprising to see many Filipinos wanting to go to South Korea to experience the culture, see the places where Koreanovela you fell in love with were shot, taste the food, and hope to bump into one of popular K-Pop artists. More than that, there are many Filipinos who are aiming to work there.

If you are one of them, then here are the things you need to know about this proud country:

General Facts

  • South Korea is located in the Korean Peninsula with China, Japan, and Russia surrounding its borders.
  • The capital of South Korea is Seoul.
  • The country is a democratic republic with power centralized in a president.
  • Main language is Korean, but the people are slowly learning the English language. They also have their own alphabet known as Hangeul.
  • South Korea has among the strongest economies in the world. Over the years, the country is among the leading shipbuilders and among the top manufacturers of electronics, automobiles, and semiconductors.
  • Its currency is Korean Won.

Religion 

Majority of the population has no religious belief. Nonetheless, there are still Koreans who practice Christianity, so practicing your faith and fulfilling your Sunday obligation won’t be a problem. Some also practice Protestanism, Catholicism, and Buddhism.

Weather / Climate

Korea has four seasons – winter, spring, summer, and fall. Make sure you pack your clothes appropriately for the weather, with January being the coldest month. Despite the typhoons visiting the Pacific region, only few, usually two to three, are actually making a landfall in Korea.

Transportation 

Going from point A to point B won’t be an issue because transportation system in South Korea is excellent and efficient. You will find lots of buses, trains, or taxis, but Korea’s subway rail system is among the best in the world. Ferry services are also available, so make sure you take time to give it a try for experience.

Culture / Way of Life 

Did you know that almost all places in South Korea is wired? They have the best and fastest Internet service in the world as well. This means connecting with your family won’t be an issue because you can talk to them anytime, anywhere.

When it comes to food, you will find lots of kimchi and bulgogi, but they have a lot to offer as well. Korean food consists mainly of rice, noodles, vegetables, tofu, meat, and fish, so getting hungry are less likely. You can try street food as well, which you will surely love.

Working in Korea

There are tons of job opportunities in Korea. You can also find work in one of the many top companies in the world like Samsung, LG, Hyundai, and ExxonMobil among others. English teachers are among the highest paid foreign workers, regardless of work experience, so you might want to give this career path a try.

Don’t get too excited yet. South Koreans are welcoming to foreigners but when it comes to foreign workers, they tend to be strict.

Since August 2005, foreign workers are mandated to take the Employment Permit System – Test of Proficiency in Korean (EPS-TOPIK) before recruiting. When you pass, you will be offered an Employment Contract, which will be coursed through an accredited agency in the Philippines.

Appropriate visa is likewise required to be able to work in Korea legally. Non-professional employment (E-9) visa is usually given to foreign workers, which is good for three years. Otherwise, there are corresponding working visa for each specific profession (E1 to E7).

Since Korean is the primary language, employers expect that you know few words and phrases. You might be required to take Korean Language Proficiency Test to check and assess your practical communication skills. This is not required by all employers, but it is best to learn Korean before you apply for job. TESDA offers free language courses with priority given to OFWs, so make sure to take advantage of it.

Work Culture 

Working long hours in Korea is normal. Despite the mandated 40-hour work week, majority of the people render 52 working hours per week or 40 normal working hours and 12 hours overtime. This means you need to be prepared to put in longer working hours if you plan to work in this country.

Don’t worry. Public holidays are 10 to 16 times per year, which means you get some rest. Recognition is important for many Korean companies, so you will find regular staff awards night as part of the annual agenda.

When it comes to working relationship, trust is crucial among Koreans, which is something they truly value. This explains why majority of Korean companies are into company events and staff lunches or dinners to develop that relationship. Nonetheless, avoid getting too personal especially on your bosses since this is considered disrespectful for them.

Given this information, are you willing to give South Korea a try? Go ahead.

OFW Guide to Living and Working in Canada

The United States of America has and will always be a favorite among many Filipinos. Apparently, there is another country in the north that are more welcoming to foreign workers – Canada. 

Canada has become a haven for many Filipinos. At present, FIlipinos are the third largest Asian group in Canada (next to Indian and Chinese) and the largest group from Southeast Asia. Filipino immigrants also contributed to country’s economic growth by working as teachers, doctors, nurses, workers, caregivers, and technicians among others. More importantly, Canada has “multiculturalism” as part of its policy wherein everyone is treated equally and has high regard for ancestry. This explains why this country is a favorite among Filipinos, especially for those who are thinking to settle down there.

Do you plan to work here as well? If yes, then here’s what you need to know about living and working in Canada:

General Facts 

  • Located in the Northern part of North America that has 10 provinces and three territories.
  • Canada is also the second largest country by total area.
  • It is a federal parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of State
  • The country is considered as one of the world’s most ethnically diverse and multicultural nation because of its policies that welcomes immigrants from all over the world.
  • This developed country is among the highest in the world when it comes to economic freedom, civil liberties, transparency in the government, education, and quality of life.

Language 

English is the official language in Canada, which means you won’t have difficulty talking to people, especially your employers. Aside from English, French is also widely spoken, particularly in Quebec, which listed this as the official language in the area. Don’t be surprised to see laws written in French as well.

Since Canada is a home to diverse culture and people, it’s not surprising to hear people speak in other languages such as Chinese Mandarin, Filipino, Spanish, Arabic, German, and Italian among others.

Weather 

Canada’s weather is among the biggest challenge among Filipinos. Weather can be extremely hot or cold (you could experience a drop in temperature of up to 30 degrees below zero), depending on the season. It is best to be prepared in terms of clothing by the time winter season starts.

Work Permit

Before you can work in Canada, you need to pass the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), a screening mechanism required to all Canadian employers before they can hire foreign workers. The exception for LMIA would be if you are hired under the International Mobility Program. Don’t worry because this is all taken cared of by your employer.

If you passed, the employer will provide you with a job offer (must be submitted by the employer in the Employer Portal), which is also needed when applying for a work permit. You will also need to submit an employment contract to apply. You can check out the documents and forms required here.

Keep in mind that there is no maximum time set when you work as a temporary worker in Canada. Nonetheless, the duration of work permit would depend on the agreement with your employer, length of time listed in the LMIA, and the validity of your passport.

Higher Taxes

Tax is the life-blood of every nation. Without this, the government won’t be able to provide services to its citizens. Unfortunately, Canada imposes high taxes. You will be asked to pay somewhere between 20 and 30 percent, depending on the tax income bracket you belong to. There is an additional 15 percent when you buy goods.

The consolation is that Canada provides excellent benefits to everyone. Health care system is among the best in the world. The government also offers free education, but make no mistake because quality is not compromised.

If you plan to migrate, the Canadian government offers child tax incentives, which you could benefit from.

Transportation

Public buses and trains are available in Canada so that you could go from point A to B. Some Filipino immigrants buy cars than riding public transport since it is more convenient.

Given this information, are you willing to take the risk, apply for a job, and go to Canada? Why not, right?