Balikbayan Visa and Return Air-ticket Requirement

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Does a Visitor to the Philippines need a Return Ticket if they are Married to a Philippine Citizen

A Balikbayan Visa holder, is a person who gets a special Passport stamp to allow them to stay in the Philippines, for one year, if they are married to a Philippine Citizen.  They get this stamp on ENTRY into the Philippines, not before.

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Most visitors to the Philippines normally need a Return or onward air-ticket before being allowed to fly into the Philippines.  (I have read that the airline faces a $1,000 penalty if a passenger is found to be not holding an onward ticket)

Most airlines will NOT give return tickets up to a one year period.

So, does a Balikbayan Visa holder need a Return Air-ticket ? And if so, how ?

There are many questions on this, on various Internet Forums etc, going back for years, with various different answers.

A quote from the Philippine Consulate states:

Under the Balikbayan Law, a Filipino citizen’s (including dual citizens and former Filipinos) foreign spouse and children are entitled to a visa-free entry to the Philippines and visa-free stay for a period of one (1) year, provided they enter the Philippines with the said Filipino and they have a return air travel ticket.

This does appear to be the legal viewpoint.

Yes. You do appear to NEED a return/onward ticket.

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am a former Filipino and have now assumed citizenship in another country. My stay in the Philippines is from 01 December 2022 to Jan 20 2023. My birth certificate was presented when I checked in at the airport when I checked in. Do I still need to have a visa as my stay is more than 30 days? Should the immigration officer at the airport have automatically stamped my passport with a Balikbayan stamp. I dont have my passport with as while visiting my relatives in the province. Can someone in the know give me an idea? I plan to go to immigration to have this sorted, as advised by my Consulate. Your opinion, please.

The interpretation for an onward or return ticket apparently pertains to those travelling wiith a balikbayan and not to the balikbayan himself/herself. The answer must be NO for the law intends to give the balikbayan such privilige for one year to explore his intention to live or file a dual citizenship in his own country without any impedimet

It would be nice to know the date of the above quote from the Philippine Consulate, because I heard that there was a policy change regarding this issue around 2012. According to the current (1/22/19) Philippine Bureau of Immigration website, Balikbayans do not require a return ticket. See

Item number 11 on this faq reads:

11. Who are exempt from the return ticket requirement?

Philippine passport holders;
Former Filipinos and their dependents (immediate family members);
Permanent residents and holders of other special visa categories requiring temporary residents (with valid ACR I-Cards);
Passports of recognized foreign-government officials;
Visa under CA 613, Sec. 9, except Sec. 9(a), and 47(a)(2) where visa validity extends beyond passport expiration date, provided, an embassy or consulate is maintained in the Philippines; and
Those admitted by the Commissioner on humanitarian grounds.

However, I talked to an agent with Korean Airlines and while he was able to confirm that Balikbayans were not required to have a return ticket, it was their company policy to require one anyway. (Apparently the Philippine Government imposes significant fines on airlines that violate the rule which causes airlines to adopt a “better safe than sorry” attitude.)

I then checked with Philippine Airlines and they confirmed that they did not have a return ticket requirement for Balikbayans as long as you have necessary proofs of former citizenship and familial relationships. So, my advise would be to always fly Philippine Airlines (or perhaps other Philippine based carriers that that would also be familiar with the rules) and carry with you the appropriate documents, if you wish to avoid the return ticket requirement.


What if the first flight from you’re country does not have a Philippines airline. But you’re you’re connecting is with with a Philippines airline?What then?Also.Can you buy an airline return ticket a year in advance ?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x