The Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) is a 'must have' certificate for all Filipino Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs) on leave/vacation returning to their country of work. It also serves as travel exit clearance and entitles Filipinos to exemption from paying travel tax terminal fee and documentary stamps for remittance transactions.
In 2008, I got it from the main office in Quezon City because I was based in Region 4. Although it was the first time, it was also the easiest. I got it without any necessary papers except my passport. The officer went through my passport, asked for my work permit and contract but I didn't have them. My visa was okay, but she told me that she could not approve my application for clearance because I had no supporting documents.
I was furious and told her that I had just came home for vacation and would return in a month's time; anyway I had my Non-B visa. Convinced by what I said, she referred me to another person next to her. That person reviewed my passport and saw my visa and re-entry permit from Thailand, so she told her to act on it positively.
The following year, I got it from the same office. But this time it was harder. I was the 100th applicant and was patiently waiting for the services to begin when I read a sign on the left side of the hall stating whoever wanted to enjoy speedy processing of OEC could queue up there for additional amount plus delivery of OEC right to our doorsteps.
I liked that idea because the line was not that long and I had no time to come back for the result. I filled in another paper and I submitted it with my application. The officer examined my application and told me to proceed to the 2nd floor. I was puzzled because that floor was for people who changed employers. I did change my employer from Chulalongkorn to Ramkamhaeng . But what was the difference?
I waited several hours and while waiting for my turn I talked with other applicants. I was given a list of requirements to submit - contract, work permit, passport, visa, etc. I was worried because I did not have my contract again. I searched everywhere at home but I could not find it. I was very sure I put it in an envelope before I left Thailand.
Anyway, thanks to our company secretary who emailed my contract right away when I requested. When I completed my papers, I went back. It took so long for there were a lot of applicants but it was worth it. For a change of employer, I paid more than 6,000 pesos ($150) compared to a renewal or new application that would cost only 1,800 ($45). What a way to get money from OFWs.
When I came home the 3rd time, I got my OEC from Shoe Mart Manila (a mall). I learned that Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) opened offices in several centers for easy access of departing Filipino workers. I chose SM Manila because it was accessible for me. Getting an OEC there was faster and easier. There were fewer people.
Unfortunately, my flight was at Clark in Pampanga. I travelled almost 3 hours from home and waited for another 3 hours just to be offloaded. I was denied validation of my OEC by 3 POEA officials assigned that day. They were looking for proof why I stayed longer than 5 days even if I told them I had an eye operation. One more thing, it was Labor Day, so I couldn't get a new one.
On the 4th time, I tried SM Manila again. I went to the 5th floor where I got my OEC 2 years ago. They had moved to another wing on the same floor. It was very spacious and less crowded. The procedure was posted and I went through it. It just took me 30 minutes. The officers were more accommodating and no numbers were given for the queue. Applicants just lined up in their seats and stood up to be served when the person ahead of them was done.
In order that getting OEC will be hassle-free, try doing these.
1. Choose the nearest POEA Office in your region/area except the main office.
2. Bring your Passport valid at least 6 months from the date of departure
3. Valid work visa/ work permit or equivalent document
4. Proof of Employment returning to the same employer
like Employment Contract, Certificate of Employment, Company ID/ pay slip (although they only looked at my passport)
5. Money 8 thousand pesos ( over $200) for those who changed employers, for those applying for the first time 3,400 pesos ($85) and 1400 pesos ($35) or less for renewal depending on your case
6. Bring your previous OEC if you travel more than once in a year in this case you pay 200 only.
7. Multiple OEC is granted as long as you pay the required dues and necessary papers.
8. Come early to be served first.
9. Don't lose your OEC. You will have it validated before boarding.
10. Never fly via Subic on a holiday especially when you stayed in the country for more than 5 days. Their POEA office outside the airport is closed. They won't validate your OEC.