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A sign that says "How to apply for an OWWA membership"

How to apply for an OWWA membership

A Filipino automatically gains an OWWA membership when they become an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) and submit their contract to the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) for evaluation.

However, their membership is only valid for a certain amount of time. This means they must renew their membership after it expires to avoid being classified as inactive.

Additionally, some OFWs find work while already abroad and must process their OWWA requirements outside the Philippines.

So how do they do this?

If you are an OFW looking to renew your OWWA membership or are applying for the first time, then you may already know it can be a confusing process if you are unfamiliar with the steps.

Luckily, we’ve done the research for you and have written them down for you here.

Read on to learn more.

What is OWWA?

A magnifying glass over the OWWA logo

OWWA stands for Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. They are the Philippine government agency in charge of securing the well-being of OFWs and their families. 

Under the DMW, OWWA has the following tasks:

  • Running programs that promote the well-being of OFWs and their families – This includes pre-employment seminars for prospective OFWs, professional development seminars for OFW family members, and repatriation programs for OFWs in distress.
  • Managing the OWWA fund – Their job is to keep the fund in the black, so it can go back to helping Filipinos abroad.
  • Implementing laws and ratified international conventions relating to OFWs – The laws are there to protect OFWs. Consequently, the OWWA’s job is to enforce these rules to keep you and your right to make a living safe.

How much does an OWWA membership cost?

An OWWA membership costs US $25.

After an OFW has paid for their membership, it is valid for two years regardless of the duration of their contract or any changes in their job or employer.

While OFWs automatically become OWWA members once they process their employment contract with the DMW, Filipinos who find work while they are tourists in another country may still apply for a membership at the nearest Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO).

Being an OWWA member gives OFWs a support network they can turn to in challenging times or emergencies, so it is important to get a membership.  

Why should I join OWWA?

A woman wondering why she should apply for an OWWA membership

There are benefits to having an active OWWA membership, including education and funding. These perks are divided among these four categories:

Social benefits

Imagery representing OWWA social benefits in the Philippines

OWWA’s social benefits cover an OFW during the most challenging situations in their life, including times of illness, injury, and tragedy.

Active OWWA members can approach the OWWA for help if they are injured while working abroad. Moreover, for those who have lost an OFW family member, the OWWA is available to provide financial aid for the bereaved.

You may also use your OWWA membership to seek financial assistance for your medical bills in case you must be hospitalised due to an illness abroad or in the Philippines.

Education and training

An illustration featuring a university and training centres

OFWs and their family members are eligible to undergo professional training with help from OWWA.

With an OWWA scholarship, an OFW or their loved one could:

  • Upgrade their seafarer’s skills
  • Complete a course from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)
  • Graduate from college

OWWA members and their families may also go to their nearest OWWA Regional Welfare Office to learn the latest information technology skills or to seek financial assistance to open a small business.


An illustration representing reintegration

Some OFWs return to the Philippines with dreams of starting their own business. With an OWWA membership, they can do just that.

Through OWWA’s reintegration programs, repatriated OFWs can apply for a grant of ₱20,000 to start a small business.

They may also apply for an OWWA Loan to start a business with at least  ₱100,000.


An illustration representing repatriation

OFWs who find themselves in the middle of conflicts or natural disasters can come home with the help of OWWA. Through their repatriation program, the agency reunites OFWs with their families by ensuring they have a way home, shelter, and psycho-social support.

If you are in need of assistance, click here to find your nearest OWWA office.

Am I eligible for an OWWA membership?

An illustration of a man eligible for an OWWA membership

You are eligible for an OWWA membership if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are of legal age
  • You have a legitimate employment contract processed by the DMW
  • You have a valid visa and work permit
  • You are legally employed
  • You are a Filipino citizen
  • Your OWWA membership is due for renewal

What are the steps to getting an OWWA membership?

A checklist of OWWA membership requirements

Meeting all the requirements of being an OFW may seem like an arduous process but know that this is all for your safety.

And once you are familiar with the procedure, you can cut it to smaller, more manageable steps.

In the following section, let us break these steps down for you.

The documents

An eligible applicant seeking an OWWA membership must first prepare their documents, so check your files and gather the following records:

  • A fully accomplished OWWA Information Sheet
  • Your valid Philippine passport
  • Your residence or work permit from your host country
  • Proof of employment, such as your employment contract, a recent pay slip, or a certificate of employment

Filipinos with dual citizenship must also prepare their Certificate of Oath and the corresponding identification page.

The membership procedure

With your documents at the ready, follow this step-by-step procedure to availing your OWWA membership. Note that this are general guidelines, so do check with your nearest POLO-OWWA Office for their country-specific guidelines. 

  1. Scan your OWWA Information Sheet and required documents.
  2. Email these scans to your nearest POLO-OWWA Office for evaluation. 
  3. Once approved, you will receive an email notification to pay your membership dues. Only pay your dues once you have received this official confirmation.
  4. Follow your POLO-OWWA’s payment procedures.
  5. Await an email confirming your payment.
  6. Receive your official receipt in person or via email.

Once your payment has been confirmed, you are officially an active OWWA member for another two years.

Can I check my OWWA membership status online?

An illustration of a checklist and a laptop

Yes, you can check your OWWA membership status via the OWWA Mobile App, available on Android and iOS.

When you open an account on the app, all you will need to do is click the Information tab to see your membership status. Then, you can check on this tab regularly to ensure you pay your membership dues on time.

The OWWA Mobile App is also a way for OFWs like you to:

  • Store your employment contract and passport information.
  • Access OWAA directories and guidelines.
  • Pay the OWWA membership fee via Landbank, OFBank, Bancnet-affiliated partners, cash payment centres, and other partner banks.

You will receive an email with your official receipt whenever you successfully pay your membership fee using the app.

How do I send money to the Philippines?

An illustration of dollar bills

With your OWWA membership, you are ready to venture out into the world as an OFW. 

While you are out adjusting to your new environment and earning for your family, use these articles as your guide:

And when it comes to sending money to the Philippines, use Kabayan Remit.

With its bank-level security features, Kabayan Remit is a money transfer app that keeps your funds safe as it makes its way to your loved ones back home.

You can send money to the Philippines with these three easy steps:

Send money to the Philippines in three easy steps
  1. Log in to Kabayan Remit using your phone or desktop.
  2. Type in your beneficiaries’ details and mobile numbers.
  3. Click “Send Money” and start sending money to the Philippines.

Depending on the delivery method you choose, your family can receive your funds through these three options:

  • Banks – Kabayan Remit can send your funds to major banks in the Philippines, like Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), and Metrobank.
  • Mobile wallets – If your loved ones prefer GCash or Maya, we can send your funds there too.
  • Cash – Your family can collect your funds in cash when they visit LBC, Palawan Pawnshop, M Lhuillier, or Cebuana Lhuillier.

You can also pay your bills and Philippine government contributions from the comfort of your own phone. 

Using Kabayan Remit, you can:

  • Pay your SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG contributions.
  • Pay your monthly insurance premiums from brands like AIA Philippines (formerly Philam Insurance) and Sun Life Grepa Financial (formerly Grepalife).
  • Pay for your real estate investments in developments by Aboitzland, Crown Asia, DMCI Homes, Megaworld, Vista Residences, and more.

OFWs sending family members to school may also use our money transfer app to pay tuition in:

  • De La Salle Lipa
  • Mapua Institute of Technology
  • Sienna College of Taytay.

To enjoy the convenience and security of our money transfer service, download our app today and open a free Kabayan Remit account.

You can also learn more about our services by visiting our official website or talking with our 24/7 bilingual customer support service here.


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