Guide for OFWs Returning to the PH in 2023

If you’re one of the many OFWs returning to the Philippines, whether it’s for the holidays or in the near future, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about the process for an easy and hassle-free return to the Philippines, including quarantine and travel procedures. Let’s get started.

returning ofws Philippines
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Understanding the eTravel QR Card Registration

1. Secure the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) and other necessary documents before your return to the Philippines. The OEC serves as proof of your status as an OFW. This can be done by using our guide on the Steps for Easy and fast Issuance of the OEC.

Do note, however, that this process requires you to create an account with the Balik-Manggagawa Online Processing System before you could set an appointment to process and claim your OEC in the country.

2. Visit the eTravel Registration website which is the updated version of the One Health Pass and register for FREE. The eTravel System is an advanced digital platform designed to streamline data collection for passengers arriving in and departing from the Philippines.

Please note that you can only register for the eTravel QR Card within 72 hours prior to your arrival or departure in the Philippines. It’s important to keep this timeframe in mind when planning your registration. Or better yet, fill out the registration form at home, at least one to two hours before your flight so you won’t need to rush in doing so.

Important notes when registering or updating your records:

  1. Provide accurate and up-to-date personal information, including your passport details, travel type, and contact information.
  2. Upload the required documents as specified on the portal. Make sure to double-check that all the documents are complete and accurate.
  3. Submit your registration and wait for the processing of your application.
  4. Once your application is approved, you will receive your eTravel QR Card. This card serves as your digital travel pass.
  5. Keep your eTravel QR Card accessible and ready to present to authorities when required during flight boarding back to the Philippines. This will help ensure a smooth travel experience and compliance with the necessary protocols.

Pre-Departure Test Exemptions for Vaccinated OFWs

If you’re fully vaccinated, there are exemptions for pre-departure testing. We’ll discuss the criteria for these exemptions and the required documents you’ll need to provide. Stay informed and prepared!

Pre-boarding Process

During counter check-in at the airport terminal, present all the necessary documents, which are:

  • a valid one-way or two-way plane ticket,
  • passport with at least 6 months validity,
  • vaccination certificate, and
  • the eTravel QR code

In-flight Process

OFW travelers will need to complete the Bureau of Customs Form, provided by the flight attendant. Here’s how:

Step 1: Check Eligibility

  • Determine if you are eligible.
  • Eligibility is for Returning Residents or Returning OFWs who:
    • Have stayed abroad for at least six months.
    • Have not availed of this privilege within a specified period before arrival.
  • The exemption amount varies based on the length of stay abroad and the value of personal and household effects.
  • Refer to Section A of the document for detailed eligibility criteria.

Step 2: Provide Personal Information (Section B)

  • Fill in your details:
    • Name, citizenship, civil status, date of birth.
    • Passport number, tax identification number.
    • Contact number, email address.
    • Addresses (abroad and in the Philippines).
    • Date of last departure from and estimated/actual date of arrival to the Philippines.
    • Information about accompanying family members (if any).
    • Length of stay abroad and last usage of this privilege.

Step 3: Shipment Details (Section B)

  • Include shipment information:
    • Mode of shipment (accompanied/unaccompanied).
    • Entry number, tracking number, and country of origin.
    • Port of discharge, bill of lading/airway bill number.
    • Container details (quantity, size), number of boxes/packages.
    • Net and gross weight, declared FCA/FOB value.
    • Actual dates of departure and arrival of the carrying vessel.
    • Purpose of importation.

Step 4: Itemized Description of Goods (Section C)

  • Declare goods:
    • Separate new and old goods.
    • Use additional sheets if needed.
    • Indicate unit of measure, quantity, declaration (new/used), goods description, value in Philippine Peso.
    • Mark durables (e.g., appliances, machinery, sports equipment).
    • Ensure goods are not prohibited, restricted, or regulated (see Section E for list).

Step 5: Submission and Tax Exemption

  • Sign and submit the document to the Bureau of Customs or a Customs Officer.
  • Secure a Tax Exemption Indorsement (TEI) from the Revenue Office of the Department of Finance (DOF).
  • Contact details for the DOF are in Section E of the document.
  • Follow all requirements and procedures from the Bureau of Customs and the DOF to avail of the tax and duty-free importation.

Note: Wearing of mask inside the aircraft is still required except for eating or drinking.

Arrival Procedures and Quarantine Protocols

OFW travelers need to show a negative laboratory-based Antigen test (ART) taken within 24 hours or undergo an ART COVID-19 test at the terminal.

As per the NAIA ARRIVAL Protocol & Requirements for OFWs, Non-OFWs, and Foreigners, here’s what happens if an OFW traveler tests positive for COVID-19 upon arrival at the airport:

  1. The OFW traveler will be assessed by a DOH/BOQ Officer to determine the severity of their condition and the necessary course of action.
  2. Depending on the assessment, there are two possible scenarios:

If the assessment indicates that the traveler requires further medical management, they will be transferred to a designated hotel or medical facility. This ensures that they receive the necessary care and treatment to recover from COVID-19.

If the assessment shows that the traveler tests negative for COVID-19 or has mild symptoms, they may be allowed to proceed to their final destination. However, it’s important to note that they should still follow the quarantine and health protocols mandated by the local government.

Remember that the purpose of these protocols is to prioritize the health and well-being of ALL travelers and prevent the spread of COVID-19. It ensures that individuals who test positive receive appropriate medical attention, while those who test negative can continue their journey while adhering to necessary precautions.

Post-Arrival: Quarantine Measures and Isolation by DOH

Here are the steps that returning OFWs to the Philippines must comply with upon arrival at the airport terminal:

  1. Present all the necessary documents, including:
    • Covid-19 Vaccination Certificate
    • eTravel QR Code
  2. Proceed to immigration and clear baggage after being cleared by BOQ (Bureau of Quarantine) officers. Remember to submit a copy of the Bureau of Customs Declaration before exiting the terminal.

For different categories of travelers, the following protocols apply:

For unvaccinated or partially vaccinated international passengers:

  • Provide a negative laboratory-based Antigen test (ART) taken within 24 hours.
  • If unable to show ART results, undergo an ART COVID-19 test at the terminal administered by health professionals.

For unvaccinated minor Filipino nationals:

  • Minor Filipino nationals below fifteen (15) years old should follow the quarantine protocols of their accompanying parent or guardian during travel.
  • Unaccompanied minors below fifteen (15) years old are required to show a negative ART taken within 24 hours or undergo an on-arrival ART COVID-19 test if they fail to perform ART before departure.

These protocols are based on the latest guidelines from IATF Resolution No. 2 and are in place to ensure the safety and well-being of all travelers.


Planning to return to the Philippines? In this video, we provide a step-by-step tutorial on the eTravel Arrival Registration process. Whether you’re an OFW or a foreign traveler, this tutorial will guide you through the necessary steps to ensure a smooth arrival in the Philippines.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the eTravel QR Card, and why is it important for returning to the Philippines?

    • The eTravel QR Card is a digital travel pass that helps streamline the arrival process in the Philippines. It is important because it allows authorities to verify your travel details and ensures compliance with health and safety protocols.

2. How can I secure the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) before my return to the Philippines?

    • To secure the OEC, you need to complete the necessary paperwork and requirements through the designated process provided by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). It serves as proof of your status as an Overseas Filipino Worker and is required for your return to the Philippines.

3. What documents do I need to provide during the eTravel Arrival Registration process?

    • The specific documents required may vary, but generally, you will need to provide your passport information, flight details, contact information, and any relevant COVID-19 vaccination certificates or test results.

4. Are there any exemptions for pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated OFWs?

    • Yes, there may be exemptions for pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated OFWs. The specific criteria and requirements for these exemptions may be subject to the guidelines set by the Philippine government and health authorities.

5. What are the protocols and requirements for COVID-19 vaccination certificates and health passes?

    • The protocols and requirements for COVID-19 vaccination certificates and health passes may vary. It is important to check the latest guidelines from the Philippine government and health authorities for the specific requirements and procedures.

6. What happens if I test positive for COVID-19 upon arrival at the airport?

    • If you test positive for COVID-19 upon arrival, you will be assessed by a DOH/BOQ Officer. Depending on the assessment, you may be transferred to a designated hotel or medical facility for further medical management or allowed to proceed to your final destination if you test negative.

7. What are the quarantine measures and procedures for OFWs who test positive or can’t show a negative antigen test?

    • The quarantine measures and procedures for OFWs who test positive or can’t show a negative antigen test may vary. It is best to follow the guidelines and instructions provided by the Department of Health (DOH) and local health authorities for the specific protocols in place.

8. Where can I find the official government websites and guidelines for the most up-to-date information on travel protocols and requirements?

You can find the most up-to-date information on travel protocols and requirements from official government websites such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the Official Gazette of the Philippines.


In conclusion, if you’re an OFW preparing to return to the Philippines, either for the holidays or for a longer stay, you now have a guide to ensure your return is smooth and hassle-free. From understanding the eligibility criteria for tax and duty-free privileges to providing detailed information about your personal details, shipment, and goods, this guide has covered essential aspects to help you navigate the process efficiently. Remember to also stay informed about the latest quarantine and travel procedures to comply with current guidelines. With this knowledge, you can look forward to a worry-free return to your homeland.

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