Last Updated on 09/03/2021 by FilipiKnow
Filipinos who got hired directly by a foreign employer without passing through a recruitment agency are required to secure an overseas employment certificate (OEC) before they leave the Philippines.
The OEC application process for direct-hire OFWs is different from that of agency-hired workers. For one, first-time direct hires can’t use BM Online because it’s only for returning OFWs.
The process for direct hires is also longer and more complicated because the government has to ensure that their employment rights will be protected.
Table of Contents
- What to do before applying for an OEC.
- POEA OEC Requirements for Direct-Hire OFWs.
- Phase 1: Requirements for direct hiring ban exemption.
- 1. Valid passport.
- 2. Valid work visa or entry/work permit.
- 3. Verified employment contract or offer of employment.
- 4. POLO endorsement letter, if applicable.
- 5. Notarized statement on how you found the job.
- 6. Certificate of Insurance Coverage.
- 7. Additional country-specific requirements.
- 8. For professionals and skilled workers: Employer’s company profile and business license/commercial registration.
- 9. For professionals and skilled workers: Additional documents to support job application.
- 10. For domestic workers: TESDA National Certificate II (NC-II).
- Phase 2: Requirements for OEC application of direct hires.
- Phase 1: Requirements for direct hiring ban exemption.
- Phase 1: How to Apply for POEA Clearance.
- Phase 2: How to Apply for an OEC.
What to do before applying for an OEC.
You can’t go straight to the POEA office, hoping to get an OEC in your first visit, without being fully prepared. You’ll only be wasting your time that way.
Here’s what you should do before you start filing your OEC application as a direct hire:
1. Check if you qualify for direct hiring ban exemption.
Philippine labor laws and regulations prohibit overseas employers from directly hiring Filipino workers. This means if you’ll work abroad, your employer should have hired you through a POEA-accredited recruitment agency. Such a rule is meant to protect OFWs against abuse, exploitation, or any violation of their worker rights.
But there’s an exception to the rule.
Certain types of employers are exempted from the ban on direct hiring of OFWs. These are:
- Foreign diplomats
- International organizations
- Heads of state and high-ranking government officials (deputy minister or higher position)
- Officials listed in the first three items with a lower rank who are endorsed by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO)
- Employers of professional and skilled workers with verified or authenticated employment contracts compliant with the POEA standards
- Permanent residents of the host country who are hiring their family or relatives, except for domestic workers
Check this POEA Memorandum Circular for more details on the criteria for exemption and non-exemption of foreign employers from the direct hiring ban.
If you’ll work for an exempted employer, you may apply for a POEA Clearance from the direct hiring ban exemption. This document is a requirement for the OEC application of directly hired OFWs.
However, if your employer is not exempted from the direct hire ban, you’re required to avail of the services of a licensed recruitment agency. Once you’ve done that, set an appointment through BM Online for your OEC processing at a POEA office.
2. Get all the requirements ready.
If your employer is exempted from the direct hire ban, start preparing the OEC requirements immediately to avoid delays in your OEC application. To see the complete list of requirements, please proceed to the next section.
POEA OEC Requirements for Direct-Hire OFWs.
You need to gather two batches of documents that you’ll submit to the POEA for the two phases of your direct-hire registration.
Phase 1 involves securing a POEA Clearance. Phase 2 is the process in which your OEC will be issued.
Prepare the original copy and two photocopies of all your documents for both Phase 1 and Phase 2.
Phase 1: Requirements for direct hiring ban exemption.
1. Valid passport.
Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months before your departure date. You should renew the passport if it’s about to expire.
2. Valid work visa or entry/work permit.
3. Verified employment contract or offer of employment.
Your job contract must satisfy three requirements:
a. The contract meets or exceeds POEA’s minimum employment standards.
Employment terms and conditions mandated by the POEA should be covered in your contract. To speed up the process, request your employer to use the POEA sample employment contract as a template for your contract.
But if the company has its own standard contract, make sure that all the POEA’s required provisions are included before you sign the document. Also, you and the employer must sign each page of the contract.
b. Your employment contract is verified by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO).
If your host country has no POLO, your contract must be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over your job site. Check the POLO directory to know if there’s a POLO in your host country.
Your employer (or the company’s authorized representative) should be the one to bring your contract to the POLO, Embassy, or Consulate for verification/authentication. Your employer will ask you to send your documents, such as a copy of your passport, resume, and college diploma.
Check the website of the POLO/Embassy/Consulate on your job site for the requirements and procedure for employment contract verification/authentication.
If you’ll work in any of these locations, you can find the information on document verification/authentication through these links:
- Australia, Nauru, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, and New Caledonia
- Berlin, Germany
- Dubai and Northern Emirates, UAE
- London, UK
- Tokyo, Japan
c. Your POLO-verified or Embassy/Consulate-authenticated contract is Apostillized.
Update (September 2021): One of our readers who recently obtained his OEC said there’s no need to get your employment contract Apostillized as DFA will only reject your request. A verified employment contract or offer of employment should suffice.
Secure an Apostille from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) once you’ve received your verified/authenticated employment contract from your employer.
4. POLO endorsement letter, if applicable.
Your employer should also secure an endorsement letter from the POLO requesting exemption from the direct hiring ban. The letter must be addressed to the POEA Administrator.
You don’t have to submit a POLO endorsement letter if you’ll submit your verified/authenticated employment contract.
5. Notarized statement on how you found the job.
This legal document is an affidavit you can easily get through a notary public. Here’s how:
- Download an affidavit template (again, you can just get a copy from the notary public if you don’t have time to draft it on your own).
- Fill out the affidavit with the necessary information. In the body of the affidavit, state how you secured your overseas employment (e.g., through referral, LinkedIn, etc.).
- Print your accomplished affidavit and bring it to the nearest notary public to have it notarized.
- Attach a photocopy of your employer’s passport or ID and a print-out of his/her contact information. The POEA requires this attachment to the notarized statement.
6. Certificate of Insurance Coverage.
All Filipinos who will work overseas, including direct hires, are required to be insured against sickness, death, and other untoward events in the country of employment.
To get a Certificate of Insurance, you have to buy OFW insurance from an authorized life insurance company. Make sure that your policy covers the repatriation of remains and other benefits under Section 37-A of Republic Act 10022.
7. Additional country-specific requirements.
If you’ll be deployed to any of the following countries, you have to submit additional supporting documents.
- Canada – Labor Market Opinion (LMO) or Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)
Note: Canadian Letter and Employer’s Certificate of Registration from ECON (Province of Saskatchewan Executive Council) or Saskatchewan Immigration Nominee Program (SINP) are required from workers to Saskatchewan in lieu of the LMO.
- United States – Labor Condition Application and Notice of Action
- Middle East and Africa – Contingency plan issued by the employer
Ask your employer to send you a copy of these required business documents, along with your verified contract.
9. For professionals and skilled workers: Additional documents to support job application.
Gather the following supporting documents that prove your qualifications for the overseas job:
- Certificate of employment from your previous employers or business permit if you were self-employed
- Diploma and/or Transcript of Records/Form 137
- NC II Certificate/PRC License
- Curriculum Vitae/Resume
Except for your CV/resume, all the documents above must be authenticated by the DFA. Click here for the requirements you need to secure for each document to get an Apostille from the DFA.
Update (September 2021): One of our readers who recently obtained his OEC said professionals no longer need to Apostillize the above-mentioned supporting documents, provided they’re Certified True Copies and you can submit a notarized statement of their authenticity.
10. For domestic workers: TESDA National Certificate II (NC-II).
Phase 2: Requirements for OEC application of direct hires.
1. e-Registration account.
Create an e-Registration account through the POEA e-Services Portal. After setting up and activating your account, log in and upload your photo for the profile picture, as well as a photo of your passport.
Fill out the online form with the required details: your personal information, education, training, and work experience. In the My Documents section, upload a photo of your relevant documents such as NBI Clearance, Police Clearance, and medical certificate.
Lastly, click the My Resume section to print your Worker’s Information Sheet that contains all the information you provided and your e-Registration Number, which you’ll use to access the online Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS).
Keep the printed copy of your Worker’s Information Sheet, as you’ll submit it to the POEA as proof of your e-Registration account.
2. Valid medical certificate.
Undergo a medical examination at any DOH-accredited clinic for OFWs to get a fit-to-work medical certificate.
If you’ve already done so as a requirement for processing your work visa or work permit, no need to have another medical exam. Simply submit your medical certificate when you apply for an OEC at the POEA office.
You may schedule your medical exam even before your Phase 1 application at the POEA. But make sure not to do it too early so that the certificate (with a three-month validity) is still valid when you submit it during Phase 2.
3. Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS) Certificate.
PEOS is an online seminar that covers everything OFWs should know about working abroad, the different POEA services, and how to avoid illegal recruiters.
Attend the PEOS Online at home using your laptop or smartphone. Simply log in at the PEOS website using your e-Registration Number, last name, and first name. After completing the seminar, print a copy of your PEOS Certificate.
4. Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) Certificate.
PDOS is an in-person seminar that aspiring OFWs must attend before working abroad. Conducted by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), PDOS tackles government services for OFWs, employment contract, and travel procedures and tips, among other topics.
Attending PDOS is free of charge. Wear appropriate attire because sleeveless tops, shorts, and slippers are not allowed.
Also, no appointment is required for PDOS attendees. OWWA holds the seminar at the POEA office from Mondays to Thursdays. PDOS for OFWs who will work in Europe and US territories, Asia and Pacific is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. OFWs departing for the Middle East and Africa are scheduled for the seminar from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
You may claim your PDOS Certificate after completing the seminar at the POEA office on the day of your OEC application.
5. For domestic workers: Comprehensive Pre-Departure Education Program (CPDEP) Certificate.
CPDEP is a mandatory four- to six-day orientation seminar for departing household service workers. Conducted by OWWA, the seminar covers language training, culture familiarization, and stress management to help domestic workers prepare for a new work environment abroad.
To inquire about the CPDEP seminar, you may contact the OWWA regional office in your area.
6. POEA Clearance.
The clearance will be issued by the POEA after it approves your application for the direct hiring ban exemption. You’ll have to submit the POEA Clearance, together with other Phase 2 requirements, when you apply for an OEC at the POEA office.
Phase 1: How to Apply for POEA Clearance.
As soon as your Phase 1 documents are complete, you can start your application for POEA Clearance that will exempt you from the direct hiring ban.
1. Request an appointment online.
The POEA limits the number of Phase 1 applicants to only 20 per day. Thus, it requires direct hires to book an appointment before they go to the POEA office for processing their clearance.
To book an appointment online, send an email request to the POEA Direct Hire Assistance Division (DHAD) at [email protected]1. You can file your request between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. from Mondays to Fridays.
You’ll receive an appointment confirmation from DHAD via email. Print a copy of this message and bring it on the day of your appointment.
2. Go to the POEA office on your appointment schedule.
Arrive at the POEA Main Office or Regional Center as early as 7 a.m. (Office hours start at 8 a.m.) but not later than the 4 p.m. cut-off time. If you come after the cut-off, you’ll have to reschedule your appointment through email.
Make sure that your Phase 1 documents are complete and organized in one folder before you go to the POEA for your application.
Present the printout of your appointment confirmation and get a queue number from the guard.
3. Submit the requirements for your direct hire application.
When your number is called, go to the assigned window to submit your employment documents. At the POEA Main Building, Windows 6 to 8 are for professional and skilled workers, and Windows 13 and 14 are for household service workers. These are located on the 2nd floor, Direct Hire Assistance Division, Pre-Employment Service Office – Landbased Center.
Your documents will then undergo verification and evaluation for about an hour or two. Wait for the original copy of your documents to be returned to you, together with a copy of the accomplished checklist of requirements (which indicates the documents already submitted and those you still have to submit).
If your documents are complete and you’re qualified for the direct hire ban exemption, the POEA staff will send your application to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for approval. You’ll also be given instructions about the POEA Clearance.
However, if you’re not qualified, you’ll be asked to go through a POEA-licensed recruitment agency.
4. Check the POEA website for posting of approved POEA clearance.
Processing your POEA Clearance will take three to seven working days after filing your Phase 1 application. While waiting, you can work on completing your Phase 2 documents.
Check the Direct Hire OFWs with Approved POEA Clearance page on the POEA website. If your name is included in the list, print a copy of the notice with your name on it. Bring this document during your Phase 2 process at the POEA office, as it will be your proof of POEA Clearance approval.
Phase 2: How to Apply for an OEC.
Once you’re approved for the POEA Clearance, return to the POEA office for your OEC application. Be ready to spend an entire working day for the Phase 2 process.
1. Request for an appointment online.
If your Phase 1 application was processed at the POEA Main Office, schedule an appointment through [email protected] for your OEC processing. A maximum of 25 appointments is processed each day.
You’ll be informed via email once your appointment is confirmed. Print the appointment confirmation and bring it on the day of your scheduled OEC issuance.
No need to book an appointment if you applied for a POEA Clearance at a regional office. Just go back to the POEA Regional Office anytime between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday, to get an OEC.
2. Go to the POEA office on your appointment schedule.
Return to the POEA Main Office or Regional Office. Make sure to bring all your Phase 2 documents and a printout of your confirmed appointment (if applicable). Avoid coming past the cut-off time of 4 p.m., or else you’ll have to schedule a new appointment.
Approach the guard, present the copy of your appointment confirmation and POEA Clearance notice, and get a queue number for your OEC processing.
3. Attend PDOS.
Proceed to Window 6 on the 2nd floor, DHAD, Landbased Center in the POEA Main Office. Get a PDOS application form and fill it out.
After completing the two-hour seminar, get your PDOS Certificate and photocopy it.
4. Submit the OEC application requirements.
Go back to DHAD and get a queue number from the guard. When your number is called, go to Window 6 and submit all the Phase 2 requirements. Your documents will then be evaluated, and your information will be encoded into the POEA database.
5. Pay for the OEC fees.
Go to Window I on the ground floor for your OEC payment assessment. Wait for the assessment of fees to be given to you. Then proceed to the cashier in the DHAD at Window J to pay for the OEC fees.
Here’s the breakdown of OEC fees:
- POEA processing fee: Php equivalent of $100
- OWWA membership fee: Php equivalent of $25
- Pag-IBIG contribution: Php 100 per month
- PhilHealth contribution (one-year coverage): Php 2,400 (Note: PhilHealth premium payment for OFWs is voluntary. Thus, it’s not required for OEC issuance.)
Wait for your OEC receipt to be given to you. Present this document to the Immigration at the airport during your departure to your country of employment.
When you come back home after working abroad, you don’t have to go through the process of first-time direct-hire registration again. Since you’re a returning OFW with a record in the POEA database and a previously issued OEC, you can use BM Online to get an OEC.
- POEA. (2020). POEA Advisory No. 145 [PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.poea.gov.ph/advisories/2020/ADVISORY-145-2020.pdf