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The Ultimate Guide to Becoming an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW): Step-by-Step Process

The Ultimate Guide to Becoming an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW): Step-by-Step Process

Table of Contents


The Philippines is known for its rich human resource, with millions of skilled and talented individuals seeking opportunities abroad to provide a better life for their families back home. The remittances sent by Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) contribute significantly to the Philippine economy, making them an essential part of the country’s growth and development.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) is the government agency responsible for managing the overseas employment program of the Philippines. It is tasked with promoting and regulating the deployment of Filipino workers to foreign countries, ensuring their protection and welfare, and maintaining a comprehensive database of OFWs.

Becoming an OFW is a life-changing decision that requires thorough research, planning, and preparation. This comprehensive step-by-step guide will help you navigate the complex process of becoming an OFW, from researching and choosing your desired job to arriving in your host country and settling into your new life. By following this guide, you can confidently embark on a rewarding career overseas, contribute to the well-being of your family, and make a positive impact on the Philippine economy.

FREE! Download a copy of this checklist in Google Docs

Step 1: Research and Choose Your Desired Job

A. Identify the type of job you want to apply for, considering your skills, qualifications, and interests

  1. Assess your skills: Make a list of your skills, including technical, soft, and language skills. Reflect on your work experience and the expertise you have gained over the years.
  2. Determine your qualifications: Review your educational background and any additional certifications or licenses you have obtained.
  3. Consider your interests: Think about your passions and how they align with your skills and qualifications. This will help ensure job satisfaction and increase your chances of success abroad.

B. Research the demand for your chosen profession in various countries

  1. Explore labor market trends: Look for information on in-demand jobs and industries in your target countries. Websites of labor departments, embassies, or consulates of these countries are good starting points.
  2. Investigate salary and benefits: Research the average salary and benefits for your chosen profession in different countries. This will help you make informed decisions about where to apply and negotiate your contract.
  3. Learn about living conditions: Compare the cost of living, quality of life, and cultural aspects of your target countries to make sure you can adapt and thrive in your new environment.

C. Look for reputable recruitment agencies or job postings

  1. Visit the POEA website: The POEA is a reliable source for legitimate job postings and licensed recruitment agencies. Browse through their job postings and list of accredited agencies to find suitable opportunities.
  2. Use other job portals: In addition to the POEA website, explore other reputable job portals, such as JobStreet,, and Kalibrr. These platforms often provide extensive job listings and resources for aspiring OFWs.
  3. Network with OFWs: Reach out to friends, family, or acquaintances who are currently working abroad or have previous experience as OFWs. They can provide valuable insights and may even refer you to potential employers or job openings.
  4. Verify recruitment agencies: Before applying through a recruitment agency, verify its legitimacy by checking its license with the POEA. Be cautious of agencies that charge excessive fees or make unrealistic promises to secure a job.
Overseas Filipino Worker

Step 2: Gather Necessary Documents

A. Obtain a valid Philippine passport

  1. Visit the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) website ( to schedule an appointment and download the passport application form.
  2. Prepare the necessary requirements, including your NSO/PSA-authenticated birth certificate, valid government-issued ID, and recent passport-sized photos.
  3. Attend your scheduled appointment at the DFA office and submit your application form along with the required documents.
  4. Pay the passport processing fee and wait for the release of your new passport.

B. Secure your NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) clearance

  1. Register online at the NBI Clearance website and schedule an appointment.
  2. Prepare the necessary requirements, such as your valid government-issued ID and a recent 2×2 photo with a white background.
  3. Go to your chosen NBI clearance center on your appointment date and submit your requirements.
  4. Pay the clearance processing fee, undergo fingerprint scanning, and wait for the release of your NBI clearance.

C. Obtain your academic records, such as diplomas and transcripts of records

  1. Contact your school or university’s registrar office and request copies of your diploma and transcript of records.
  2. If required, have your documents authenticated by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Education (DepEd), or Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), depending on your educational level.
  3. Secure a Certificate of Authentication and Verification (CAV) if necessary.

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D. Prepare your professional documents, including your PRC (Professional Regulation Commission) license, if applicable

  1. Obtain a certified true copy of your PRC license from the PRC office or its regional branches.
  2. If required, have your professional documents authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) or the PRC.

E. Acquire employment certificates and other relevant documents

  1. Request employment certificates from your previous employers, which should indicate your job title, responsibilities, and duration of employment.
  2. Obtain additional documents that may be required by your potential employer, such as certificates of training, seminars, or workshops you have attended.
  3. Have your documents translated into the language of your target country if necessary, and obtain authentication or apostille from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Step 3: Apply for a Job

A. Submit your application to the chosen recruitment agency or directly to the employer

  1. Prepare your application documents, including an updated resume, cover letter, and copies of relevant certifications, licenses, and other supporting documents.
  2. Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your skills, experiences, and qualifications that are most relevant to the job you are applying for.
  3. If applying through a recruitment agency, submit your application documents to the agency and follow their application process. Keep in mind that the POEA requires agencies to provide their services free of charge to applicants.
  4. If applying directly to the employer, follow their preferred application method, which may involve submitting your documents via email, online application forms, or job portals.

B. Attend interviews, exams, or other assessments required by the employer

  1. Prepare for interviews by researching the company and your target job, practicing common interview questions, and reviewing your experiences and qualifications.
  2. Dress professionally and arrive early for your interviews or assessments.
  3. If the interview is conducted online or over the phone, ensure you have a stable internet connection, a quiet environment, and a fully charged device.
  4. Be prepared for technical or practical exams, depending on the job you are applying for. This may include language tests, trade tests, or computer proficiency assessments.

C. Once you receive a job offer, carefully review the terms and conditions of the employment contract

  1. Read the contract thoroughly and ensure you understand all the provisions, including your job responsibilities, salary, working hours, benefits, leave entitlements, and termination clauses.
  2. Verify that the contract is compliant with the labor laws and regulations of the host country and the Philippines.
  3. If you have concerns or questions about the contract, consult with the recruitment agency, an attorney, or the POEA for guidance.
  4. If necessary, negotiate with the employer to reach a mutually agreeable contract that protects your rights and interests as an OFW.
  5. Once you are satisfied with the contract, sign and return it to the employer or recruitment agency, and keep a copy for your records.

Step 4: Undergo Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS)

A. Attend the mandatory PEOS online or in-person at designated POEA offices

  1. Online PEOS: Access the online PEOS modules by registering at the e-PEOS website. Complete the modules at your own pace and convenience.
  2. In-person PEOS: Visit the POEA website or contact your nearest POEA office to inquire about the schedule and venue for in-person PEOS. Secure a slot by registering and attending on the specified date.

B. Learn about your rights and responsibilities as an OFW, as well as the risks and rewards of overseas employment

  1. Rights and Responsibilities: The PEOS covers important topics such as labor laws and regulations in the Philippines and the host country, contract provisions, and the obligations of recruitment agencies, employers, and workers.
  2. Risks and Rewards: The seminar also discusses the potential challenges and benefits of working abroad, including homesickness, cultural differences, and financial management.
  3. Support Services: During the PEOS, you will learn about the services and assistance available to OFWs, including the roles of the POEA, OWWA, and Philippine embassies and consulates in the host country.

C. Obtain a PEOS certificate upon completion

  1. Online PEOS: After completing all the online modules, you will be prompted to take a short quiz. Upon passing the quiz, you can download and print your PEOS certificate.
  2. In-person PEOS: Upon completing the in-person seminar, you will receive your PEOS certificate from the POEA office or the accredited training provider conducting the seminar.

Step 5: Obtain an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC)

A. Register with the POEA through the BM (Balik Manggagawa) Online Processing System

  1. Visit the BM Online Processing System website and create an account if you are a first-time user or log in if you have an existing account.
  2. Fill out the required information, including your personal details, job position, employer information, and overseas address.

B. Schedule an appointment with the POEA for processing your OEC

  1. Select your preferred POEA office or processing center and choose an available date and time for your appointment.
  2. Keep a record of your appointment schedule and reference number, as you will need to present this during your appointment.

C. Bring all necessary documents to your appointment, including your passport, employment contract, and PEOS certificate

  1. Prepare the original and photocopies of your valid passport, signed employment contract, PEOS certificate, and any other required documents specific to your job or host country.
  2. Organize your documents in a folder or envelope to ensure they are easily accessible during your appointment.

D. Pay the required fees for the OEC and other mandatory contributions (e.g., PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG, and SSS)

  1. At the POEA office or processing center, pay the OEC processing fee (approximately PHP 100) and the fees for mandatory contributions to PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG, and SSS.
  2. For first-time OFWs, the mandatory contributions include the following approximate fees: PHP 2,400 for a 12-month PhilHealth coverage, PHP 1,200 for a 12-month Pag-IBIG membership, and PHP 960 for a 3-month SSS contribution.
  3. Keep the receipts for your payments, as you may need them for future transactions or reimbursements.

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  1. After paying the fees and presenting your documents, the POEA officer will process your OEC.
  2. Once your OEC is issued, review the details and ensure they are accurate. Keep the original copy in a safe place and make copies for your records.
  3. Present your OEC at the Philippine immigration counter at the airport before departure. The OEC serves as your exit clearance and proof that you are a documented OFW, exempting you from paying travel tax and terminal fees.

Step 6: Attend the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS)

A. Register for the PDOS, which is conducted by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) or accredited NGOs

  1. Visit the OWWA website ( or contact your nearest OWWA office to inquire about the PDOS schedule and registration process.
  2. Alternatively, you may also check with accredited NGOs or training providers that offer PDOS in your area. A list of these organizations can be found on the POEA or OWWA websites.
  3. Register for the PDOS, providing your personal details, job position, and host country information. Keep a record of your PDOS schedule and registration number.

B. Attend the seminar to learn about the host country’s culture, laws, and regulations, as well as practical tips for adjusting to life abroad

  1. Culture and customs: The PDOS provides an overview of the culture, customs, and traditions of your host country, helping you understand and respect local practices and avoid potential misunderstandings.
  2. Laws and regulations: The seminar covers important information about the host country’s laws and regulations, including immigration, labor, and social laws. This knowledge is essential for ensuring your safety and legal compliance while working abroad.
  3. Practical tips: The PDOS also offers practical tips and advice on adjusting to life abroad, such as managing finances, maintaining good health, and dealing with homesickness. You’ll also learn about available resources and support services for OFWs in your host country.
  4. Rights and responsibilities: During the PDOS, you will be reminded of your rights and responsibilities as an OFW, including your entitlements under your employment contract, as well as your obligations to your employer and the Philippine government.
  5. Networking: The seminar provides an opportunity to meet and network with fellow OFWs who will be working in the same country or region. This can help you build a support network and share experiences and advice with your peers.
Overseas Filipino Worker

Step 7: Prepare for Departure

A. Secure necessary visas, permits, or clearances required by the host country

  1. Coordinate with your employer or recruitment agency to obtain the necessary visa or work permit for your host country. The requirements and processing times may vary depending on the country and your job position.
  2. Some countries may require additional clearances or permits, such as a medical examination, police clearance, or a certificate of good conduct. Ensure you complete these requirements before your departure.

B. Arrange for accommodation and transportation in the host country

  1. Inquire about your accommodation arrangements with your employer or recruitment agency. Some employers provide accommodation or housing allowances, while others may require you to find your own place to stay.
  2. Research the cost of living, local neighborhoods, and housing options in your host country to make informed decisions about your accommodation.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the public transportation system in your host country, including the routes, schedules, and fares. Download relevant apps or maps to help you navigate your new environment.

C. Inform your family and friends of your departure plans and contact details while abroad

  1. Share your flight details, overseas address, and contact information with your family and friends. This will help them stay connected and reach you in case of emergencies.
  2. Establish a communication plan with your loved ones, including the preferred methods of contact, such as phone calls, video calls, or messaging apps.
  3. Inform your family about the support services and resources available to them as relatives of OFWs, including OWWA programs and benefits.

D. Pack your belongings, taking note of baggage restrictions and prohibited items

  1. Check the baggage allowance and restrictions of your airline, including the weight, size, and number of allowed pieces. This will help you avoid excess baggage fees and ensure your belongings are packed safely.
  2. Review the customs regulations and prohibited items of your host country, as well as the Philippines, to avoid any issues during your departure and arrival.
  3. Pack essential items, such as clothing, toiletries, personal documents, and electronics, as well as any specific items required for your job, such as uniforms or work tools.
  4. Consider bringing some items that remind you of home or your culture, such as photographs, small souvenirs, or favorite snacks, to help you cope with homesickness.

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Step 8: Departure and Arrival in the Host Country

A. Present your OEC at the Philippine immigration counter before departure

  1. Upon arrival at the airport, proceed to the Philippine immigration counter and present your OEC, passport, and boarding pass to the immigration officer.
  2. The OEC serves as your exit clearance and proof that you are a documented OFW, exempting you from paying travel tax and terminal fees.

B. Arrive in the host country and report to your employer

  1. After arriving in the host country, go through immigration and customs procedures as required by the local authorities. Ensure you have your passport, visa or work permit, and employment contract readily available for inspection.
  2. Coordinate with your employer or recruitment agency to arrange for a pick-up or transportation from the airport to your accommodation or workplace.
  3. Report to your employer as soon as possible and follow their onboarding process, which may include orientation, training, or signing additional documents.

C. Familiarize yourself with the local customs, language, and community

  1. Invest time in learning the local language to improve your communication skills and enhance your interactions with the local community. Take language courses, use language learning apps, or practice with native speakers.
  2. Explore your new surroundings and visit local landmarks, markets, and community centers to gain a better understanding of the host country’s culture and customs.
  3. Make an effort to establish connections with both local residents and fellow OFWs, as building a support network can help you adapt to your new environment and provide emotional support during challenging times.

D. Register with the nearest Philippine embassy or consulate

  1. Locate the nearest Philippine embassy or consulate in your host country and register as an OFW. This will enable the embassy or consulate to provide assistance and support in case of emergencies or issues related to your employment.
  2. Keep a record of the embassy or consulate’s contact information, including their address, phone number, and email, and share it with your family and friends in the Philippines.
  3. Attend events or activities organized by the Philippine embassy or consulate, as these can provide valuable information on your rights and responsibilities as an OFW, as well as opportunities to network with other Filipino workers in the host country.

FREE! Download a copy of this checklist in Google Docs


Becoming an OFW is a significant decision that requires careful planning and preparation. By following this comprehensive step-by-step guide, you can navigate the process smoothly and embark on a rewarding career overseas. Each step, from researching and choosing your desired job to arriving in your host country, is designed to equip you with the necessary skills, knowledge, and resources to succeed as an OFW.

Working abroad presents opportunities for personal growth, financial stability, and valuable experiences. However, it also comes with challenges, such as adapting to a new culture, being away from family and friends, and navigating unfamiliar regulations. By being proactive and prepared, you can mitigate these challenges and make the most of your time as an OFW.

Remember to stay connected with your loved ones, maintain a strong support network, and be aware of your rights and responsibilities as an OFW. Leverage the resources and assistance provided by the Philippine government, POEA, OWWA, and other organizations to protect your well-being and ensure a fulfilling and successful overseas employment experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the role of the POEA in assisting aspiring OFWs?

A: The POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) is responsible for promoting and regulating the deployment of Filipino workers to foreign countries. They ensure the protection and welfare of OFWs, maintain a comprehensive database of OFWs, and provide resources and support to help aspiring OFWs navigate the overseas employment process.

Q: How can I verify if a recruitment agency is legitimate and licensed by the POEA?

A: You can verify the legitimacy and license status of a recruitment agency by checking the POEA website ( They maintain an updated list of licensed recruitment agencies, including their contact information and license validity.

Q: What are the benefits provided to OFWs by the Philippine government?

A: OFWs receive various benefits from the Philippine government, such as membership in the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), which provides programs and services related to welfare, social, and health benefits. OFWs are also entitled to mandatory contributions to PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG, and the Social Security System (SSS) for their social protection and long-term financial security.

Q: What is the purpose of the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS)?

A: The PDOS aims to prepare OFWs for their life and work abroad by providing information on the host country’s culture, laws, and regulations, as well as practical tips for adjusting to life abroad. It also educates OFWs about their rights and responsibilities and introduces them to available resources and support services in their host country.

A: If you face any issues or problems related to your overseas employment, you can seek assistance from the nearest Philippine embassy or consulate in your host country. They can provide guidance, support, and intervention when necessary. Additionally, you can contact the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) or the POEA for assistance and advice on your rights and available options.

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