Previously, we talked about how you can renew your OWWA membership in Oman. This time around, we are going to discuss about another topic: how to apply for an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC), especially if you are planning to go on vacation to the Philippines before returning to Oman.
The OEC is one of the requirements for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are newly-hired, going back to the same employer, or have transferred to a new employer abroad. You can apply for this document at the nearest Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), or — if you qualify for an OEC exemption — you can obtain it online. In this article, we will take a closer at the OEC, along with the requirements, fees, and procedures involved.
What is OEC?
The Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) is a document issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to OFWs. You can get it from POEA offices in the Philippines or from POLO offices that are stationed worldwide. Notably, this document serves several important functions, as stated in Republic Act 8042 (Migrant Workers an Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995), Section 35:
- The OEC is an “exit pass” or “travel clearance” for OFWs at airports;
- It exempts OFWs from having to pay airport terminal fees and travel tax; and
- It certifies that an OFW is documented, and is therefore guaranteed benefits and protection from the Philippine government.
Furthermore, the OEC is valid for 60 days, starting from the date of issue. This means that the OFW’s departure date should be within this validity period.
What is Balik Manggagawa?
Sometimes, the OEC is referred to as the “Balik Manggagawa Certificate,” particularly since it applies to Filipinos who are “returning workers” (balik manggagawa in Filipino) abroad. Alternatively, an OFW who is on official leave from his/her job may also be called as a “Worker on Leaver” (WOL).
Who are qualified to obtain an OEC? Here’s a list of those who are eligible to apply for this document:
- An OFW who got hired via direct hiring by an overseas employer or sponsor;
- An OFW who got hired through a recruitment agency; and
- An OFW who got hired through the POEA’s Government Placement Branch (GBP).
To apply for an OEC in Oman, you need to prepare the following documents:
- Printed POPS-BaM Appointment Form;
- Passport (original and two photocopies);
- Valid Working Visa;
- OWWA Membership Official Receipt;
- POLO-verified Employment Contract, Certificate of Employment, or Latest Pay Slip; and
- Confirmed Airline Ticket.
NOTE: POPS-BaM stands for “POEA Online Processing System for Balik Manggagawa,” a new online portal for all OFWs.
Aside from the above documents, you’ll also need to prepare for the following fees:
- OEC Fee — OMR 1
- Contract Verification — OMR 4
- OWWA Membership Fee — OMR 10
NOTE: When applying for the OEC, your contract must be verified by POLO, and you should also be an active member of OWWA. Hence, be sure to prepare the corresponding fees for these, aside from the OEC fee itself.
How to Get an OEC in Oman Online
At present, there is a new system for all OFWs — an online portal where they can apply for an OEC, set an appointment with the POEA or POLO, and update their employment records. This is the “POEA Online Processing System for Balik Manggagawa,” or POPS-BaM for short.
Here is a step-by-step guide to using the POPS-BaM:
- Visit the official website of the POEA Online Processing System for Balik Manggagawa (POPS-BaM) through this link.
- Click “Let’s Go!” on the e-Registration tab to start creating an account. Enter the required details, including a valid email address and password. Check your email for a confirmation message, then click the verification link. Don’t forget to record the email address and password you used to create your account.
- Log into your account and enter the details regarding your passport, visa, employment, and other information.
- Next, it’s time to apply for an OEC. Go to “My Links” on the left tab, then select “Balik Manggagawa.”
- Make sure that the initial assessment is colored green before clicking “Next.”
- Enter your date of departure from the Philippines.
- The screen will display your latest employment details, which are registered with the POEA. Make sure that everything is correct and marked “Clear.”
- The system will ask, “Are you returning to this job site” (i.e. the same employer displayed on the screen). If your answer is yes, proceed to “OEC Exemption” (see below). If your answer is NO, proceed to step no. 9.
- Enter your latest employment information, such as your employer’s name, address, valid ID, business permit, etc.
- Select the nearest POEA or POLO office, and set the date and time of your appointment.
- Print your Appointment Form. You can also take a screenshot of your confirmed appointment.
- On the date of your appointment, bring your Appointment Form and other documents to the POEA or POLO office to apply for an OEC.
NOTE: When creating an account on the POEA online processing system, only one (1) e-Registration account is allowed for one (1) OFW.
If you are going back to the same employer — and to the same job site — in Oman, and if you have already acquired an OEC before, you can get an OEC exemption online. This means that you don’t need to go to the POEA or to a POLO office.
Even if you are exempted, however, you still need to log into the POPS-BaM and check your employment details before getting an OEC exemption. Here are the steps:
- Follow steps 1 to 8 from above (How to Get an OEC in Oman Online). You will be asked, “Are you returning to this job site?” (i.e. the same employer displayed on the screen). Select “Yes.”
- Check your online records and make sure that all your employment details are correct. In addition, don’t forget to provide the starting date and duration of your contract.
- After entering all the required details, the system will generate your OEC exemption. Print this document as proof that you are exempted.
Upon leaving the Philippines, show your OEC exemption to immigration officials at the airport, as required.
How to Get an OEC at POLO Office in Oman
If you are going back to a different employer or to a different job site in Oman, you will need to apply for an OEC at the POLO office in Muscat. This involves booking an appointment online, before obtaining your OEC at the office:
Part 1: Booking an Appointment
- Go to the POPS-BaM website and log into your account.
- Check and make sure that your employment details are correct and updated.
- Under the “My Links” tab, select “Balik Manggagawa” and click “Next.”
- Provide your departure date, then click “Next.”
- Confirm the details of your contract, then click “Submit.”
- Select the “Processing Site,” then click “Next.”
- Set your preferred date and time.
- Take a screenshot and print your confirmed appointment. That’s it!
Part 2: Getting an OEC in Oman
- On the date of your appointment, go to the POLO office in Muscat.
- Submit all the required documents.
- Pay the OEC fee and other fees, as applicable.
- That’s it! You can now print your OEC by logging into your POPS-BaM account.
Again, before you leave the Philippines, make sure that you have your OEC so you can show it to immigration officials at the airport.
Video: How to Get an OEC Exemption?
To have a better idea on how to get an OEC exemption, check out this video tutorial featured by “Juan in Oman” YouTube Channel. This channel caters to OFWs who are based in Oman.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Meanwhile, here are some commonly asked questions and answers about the OEC, OEC exemption, and the POPS-BaM:
1. How long is the validity of an OEC?
The OEC is valid for 60 days starting from the date of issue.
2. How much is the OEC fee in Oman?
The OEC fee in Oman is OMR 1.
3. Can I get an OEC if my OWWA membership is inactive?
No. You need to renew your OWWA membership by paying the membership fee, before you can get your OEC.
4. The POPS-BaM has confirmed that I am exempted from OEC. Do I still have to go to a POEA or POLO office?
No. Once the system has confirmed that you are exempted, you can just print your OEC. There’s no need for you to go to a POEA or POLO office.
5. I am returning to the same employer in Oman. How can I get an OEC exemption?
If you are going back to the same employer and to the same job site in Oman, you can get an OEC exemption by logging into the POPS-BaM and updating your employment details. Simply follow the instructions onscreen so you can get your OEC exemption.
6. Can I change the email address that I used to register on the POPS-BaM?
No. Your email address will serves as your permanent log-in account on the POPS-BaM. However, you can still change your password occasionally for security purposes.
Other than your email address, the following information cannot be changed manually on the POPS-BaM: name, gender, and birth date. So make sure that you enter the right information always!
7. I forgot the email address and password that I used to create an account on the POPS-BaM. What should I do?
If you forgot your email address and password, visit the online POEA Help Desk through this link. Click “Create a Ticket” to file a ticket and explain your problem. To follow up your ticket, you can click “Inquire Ticket.”
8. I haven’t registered on the POPS-BaM, but I was able to get an OEC during my last vacation. Can I still get an OEC exemption now?
No. The POPS-BaM is the newest and latest online portal for OFWs, so you still need to register and create an account on the system even if you were able to get an OEC before.
9. Should I get an OEC each time I go on vacation to the Philippines?
Yes, you need to apply for an OEC — or an OEC exemption, if applicable — each time that you go on vacation to the Philippines.
10. I am going back to the same employer and I was able to get an OEC before. However, the POPS-BaM is now re-directing me to the appointment page. I wonder why?
Please note that the POPS-BaM will re-direct you to the appointment page if you are:
- An OFW who is on a watch list, or if your employer is on a watch list;
- An OFW who is returning to a non-compliant or restricted country;
- An OFW without records in the POEA database, or there are discrepancies between the existing records and the latest information that you entered;
- An undocumented worker (e.g. tourist, student, dependent) who eventually became an OFW; or
- A sea-based OFW who eventually became a land-based OFW.
Without a doubt, the OEC is an important and essential document for all OFWs, including newly-hired and returning workers. Aside from serving as “proof” that you are a bona fide OFW, the OEC confirms that you are exempted from travel tax and terminal fees at the airport, while also reassuring that you are entitled to benefits and protection from the Philippine government.
Contact Information: POLO Muscat
If you have any questions or concerns, you can get in touch with POLO Muscat through the following details. Please note that the office is open from Sundays to Thursdays, between 8:00 am and 1:00 pm.
Address: House No. 1045, Way No. 3015, Al Kharijiyah St., Al Shatti Qurum, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Telephone: +968 24605171 / +968 93557931 (hotline)
Google Map Location
Meanwhile, here is the location of POLO Muscat on Google Maps, for your reference:
DISCLAIMER: We hope that the above guide has been helpful, especially if you are planning to go on vacation to the Philippines anytime soon. Please keep in mind that the above guide is presented for general, information-sharing purposes only. To learn more about the latest requirements, fees, and steps in getting an OEC or OEC exemption in Oman, please visit the official Facebook page of POLO Muscat.