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20,000 HK workers already signed up for OFW ID

06 December 2018

By Daisy CL Mandap

How the OFW ID looks like.
Around 20,000 overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong have already signed up for the OFW ID issued by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, which is expected to do away with the overseas employment certificate by early next year.

This was according to welfare officer Marivic Clarin, who said all those who have been signing up with Balik Manggagawa Online (BMOnline) have been told to also apply for the OFW ID. The number does not even include those who have decided to sign up online by themselves.

It’s OEC season again and queues wind around the building housing POLO offices.
Latest figures from OWWA show Hong Kong has registered a total of 19,865 applicants for the OFW ID. This was even before Nov. 18, when nearly 800 migrant workers who applied for the OEC were also asked to sign up for the OFW ID.

This put Hong Kong with the third highest number of registrants, next only to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where there are millions of OFWs, compared to the 210,000 in the city.

By early next year, Clarin said the plan is to make the OFW ID replace the OEC as the gate pass at the airport by workers returning to their workplaces abroad.

“They’ll work on it (in the) first quarter of 2019 po dapat,” said Clarin.

In the meantime, those who already have the card and plan to go on vacation in the Philippines are still advised to get an OEC to be assured of getting cleared out of the airport.

There’s also another bit of good news for those applying to get their OFW IDs. Those who wish to get the card picked up by their designated relative at the OWWA office nearest their home can just send a signed authorization letter with a photocopy of the OFW’s passport with personal details.

Previously, the plan was to get the authorization letter authenticated at the Consulate.

When disclosed at a forum between Consulate officers and Filipino community leaders on Nov 11, the plan received a lot of flak from those who said the authentication, at $200 per document, would make the OFW Card very pricey.

This prompted Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre to suggest to Clarin to recommend that a simple authorization letter be enough for an OFW relative to pick up the card.

Earlier, talks that it would cost Php500 plus Php250 for delivery from a private provider, also prompted a howl of protest from OFWs, who were promised a free card by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

But with OWWA now producing the e-card, OFWs are again assured that they’d get it for free.

Apart from ultimately serving as an exit pass similar to the OEC, the OFW ID is meant to serve as another identity document that can be used for official transactions with government agencies.

To apply, an OFW must have an active OWWA membership (with at least 90 days left before the expiry date indicated), a valid OEC exemption number, and a valid passport. Applications can be made directly by logging on to

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