How to Apply for a Bank Loan as an OFW

For years, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) have been major contributors to the Philippine economy. Recent data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), for instance, shows that remittances from OFWs grew by 3% or USD 2.97 billion in March 2023—a marked increase from the USD 2.89 billion recorded in March of the previous year. The BSP has also reported that total remittances for the first quarter of 2023 have amounted to USD 8 billion all in all. 

In spite of their invaluable efforts, however, it’s not uncommon for OFW to find themselves stretched thin in terms of theirpersonal finances. In addition to sending a major percentage of their income back to their families in the Philippines, OFWs shoulder many weighty expenses. These might include their living costs in their host country, the cost of travel back to the Philippines when needed, the cost of their work visas and other necessary paperwork, and many more.

Fortunately, in recognition of the hard work and sacrifice that OFWs put forward for the benefit of their home country, banks and government institutions in the Philippines offer a variety of specialized loan products that OFWs in need of financial assistance can avail themselves of. This helpful guide provides an in-depth look at the process of applying for a bank loan as an Overseas Filipino Worker.

Who Can Apply for OFW Loans?

Unfortunately, not all Overseas Filipino Workers are eligible to apply for loans at local banks. Those seeking to do so must ascertain that they meet the following eligibility requirements:

• At least 21 years old
• Must not exceed 60 (sometimes 70) years of age by the time their loan matures
• Must have had stable employment for at least the last 2-3 years
• Must earn an average monthly income of at least PHP 40,000-PHP 50,000
• Must have an immediate family member living in the Philippines and designate them as a co-borrower

What Do You Typically Need to Apply for an OFW Loan?

As with conventional loan products, bank loans for OFWs obligate the borrower to submit certain documentary requirements that the bank can use to verify their identity, theircurrent source of employment, and the amount of income they earn. The following items are some of the most common requirements that lenders ask OFWs to include with a loan application:

• Philippine passport, Seaman’s Book, OWWA ID, and other valid IDs
• Copy of visa
• Plane ticket and flight details to and from the Philippines
• Certificate of employment, authenticated by host country’s consulate
• Proof of billing
• Proof of remittance
• Proof of residency 
• Overseas employment certificate from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)
• Most recent crew contract (for seafarers)

Different banks will have slightly different requirements, so it’s always best to ask your chosen bank for specific instructions. 

What Bank Loans Can OFWs Avail Themselves of?

Most major banks in the Philippines will offer loan products specialized for OFWs. These typically range from personal loans and business loans to car and housing loans. As a general rule, however, it’s generally best to apply for a loan at a local bank that you already have a working relationship with. This is because maintaining an existing account with that bank makes it easier for them to verify your income and your ability to pay your debts promptly, which in turn helps boost your chances of having your loan approved.

Tips for OFWs Applying for Bank Loans

While loan applications for OFWs may be slightly more complex than those for Filipinos based in their home country, the process remains manageable as long as you approach it carefully. The following tips can help you navigate your application successfully, with minimal stress:

Visit the Bank You Intend to Borrow From

As previously mentioned, different banks will have their own unique sets of loan terms and requirements. Once you decide which bank you’d like to apply to, it may help you to contact them and discuss your questions and concerns about the loan with one of their agents. This way, you can count on receiving accurate advice on what loans are right for you and what process you should follow to apply for them.

Take Advantage of Your Bank’s Loan Calculator

In addition to providing personalized advice to borrowers, most banks will also have specialized loan-calculating tools. These tools can help you determine how long your repayment term should be and how many installments you should use to pay back the loan. Your bank may even be able to show you a graphical representation of this information, so you have a clear sense of how much and when you’ll be paying until your debts are settled.

Make Sure Your Requirements Are Complete and Accurate

Before you submit your loan application, double-check your paperwork and make sure that all your documentary requirements are complete and up-to-date. This will expedite your application’s approval and prevent costly delays and other inconveniences.

Though the prospect of taking out a bank loan as an OFW can be daunting, there’s no reason not to apply for financial assistance if you really need it. As long as you do your research carefully and find a way to stay on top of your repayments, a loan can serve as a valuable source of material support for both you and your loved ones back home.

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