I get a lot of questions about the Philippines, so I decided to write about some of the Frequently Asked Questions about the Philippines.
It’s not really uncommon for foreigners to want to stay in the Philippines. This is especially true for Americans and Europeans. The climate is tropical and even in the “cold months”, the only ice you’ll see is in your drinks.
The cost of living is low compared to more developed countries making the prices of everything including food and rent very affordable. Crime is low in comparison to Western standards, and there’s typically no political instability in most areas.
If you want to know how much it really costs if you live in the Philippines, check it out here Cost of living in the Philippines.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Philippines
Before you come and live in the Philippines, here are some things you may want to know first about the country.
Let’s start with the most common question I receive.
Can A Foreigner Work In The Philippines On A Tourist Visa?
The Answer is NO!
By saying no, that does not mean that you cannot own a business, manage it, and invest in the Philippines. It just means you cannot work.
If you’re planning to do something where you actually need to be working then you can always get a visa. The Philippines really wants you to stay, and they really want our money. I’m not going to get into a discussion here on all the different visas available, the criteria for obtaining one, or exact rules for starting a small business in the Philippines, but I will say this, money talks!
You could also marry a Filipino and that comes with an automatic work permit, but I do not advocate this as a means to an end. There is no divorce here.
If you’re going to stay longer in the Philippines, or you have something to do (such as go to college or work here), you’re going to need a visa. The Bureau of Immigration in the Philippines is a typical bureaucracy, so there’s some red tape involved. You can find the information you need here Philippine Immigration.
ALSO – They speak English at the Dept of Immigration so it’s easy to get the info you need.
What you need to understand, is that the Philippine government likes that you’re here in their country, especially if you’re American or European. So the process isn’t really all that bad and the fees aren’t really expensive by our standards.
If you would like to start a small business in the Philippines, this might be the question that you have.
Can A Foreigner Own Property In The Philippines?
The Answer is also NO!
In general, a foreigner can’t own property here since you have to be a Filipino citizen to do so. But what you can do to get around this rule is to have it registered to a Filipino then register a mortgage on the title that is higher than the value of the property. This means you actually go in person to the registrar of deeds with the mortgage documents.
They will physically take your copy of the title and the copy of the title that is on file and type your mortgage on both titles. Make it a demand mortgage so that at any point in time, you can demand payment for the property. The owner of the property defaults in your favor, and you can sell or transfer to another name.
If you want to build on that property then get a document from the owner of the property saying that you have permission to build, that you own the building, and should you ever vacate the property the owner will reimburse you for construction costs. Have this document notarized.
Also, there is a process for the owners of buildings on someone else’s property. This is called a Tax Declaration. This means you will pay the taxes on the building and proves your ownership.
Notarizing In The Philippines
Just some quick advice for having your documents notarised here in the Philippines. Notarised means a legally accredited person will witness the signing of the document. Always, and I mean always, make sure that all parties are present with the notary public at the time of signing. If possible take pictures of everybody as they sign, or even better get a video of the whole transaction.
Most of the foreigners coming here would like to start their own business, but the question is, can a foreigner own a business in the Philippines?
Can A Foreigner Own A Business In The Philippines?
The Answer to this one is still NO!
First of all, I’m not going to get involved in discussing corporate laws, Philippines 60/40 corporations, or SEC-registered entities. This just gets way too complex, better talk to a lawyer. However, I will say this: Even lawyers will tell you that you can get a 60/40 Corporation, find six Filipinos, and use their names for 10% ownership each then have them sign their shares over to you.
The problem with this, and it ties into my earlier discussion about notarized documents, is that you will have these shares signed over to you and kept in your safe deposit box but of course, it’s impossible for you to have them notarized at the time of signing as this violates the anti-dummy laws.
Therefore you’ll have six documents in your safe box with a signature only, which the Filipino can simply deny signing. Very tough to get them notarized afterward and have them stand up in court. Many people use a different signature on documents like this just so they have an opportunity in the future.
ALSO – SEC documents are public records and anyone can research who the owners are of any company. A friend of mine LOST his company when one of the ‘dummy’ owners contacted all the other ‘dummies’ and they used their 60% ‘ownership’ to do a hostile takeover. Very sad.
Enough about that before it gets more complex. If you want to start simple, you can always start with a small business first.
So How Can I Have a Small Business in the Philippines?
As a foreigner, you can legally lease a building and lease land in your name here in the Philippines. You can set up a business and everything in that business is owned and controlled by you.
From the phone, electricity, cable, internet, bank account, and many more can be in YOUR NAME. Also, everything you purchase, from the stocks, furnishing and fixtures, the lighting and vehicles, the website, and all the marketing can be done and registered in your name.
But you still need the business name to be held by a Filipino. Of course, you have to choose someone you trust and make sure they understand all of the above. If they ever try to take the business from you, and I have had this happen to me, then you take the license off the wall, hand it to them, and tell them to leave the premises.
Then, you find somebody else, get another business license, and still use the same name that is on your shop, store, business whatever it is and no one will ever come to check and see if the name on the license matches the name the building.
Another thing you need to be careful of here in the Philippines is owning or having a gun in your possession.
Can A Foreigner Own A Fire Arm In The Philippines?
The Answer to this is a big NO-NO!
This is often a question posed by Americans since they have gun rights that many don’t want to give up. It also seems to make sense in the Philippines, since the police here are comparatively inept and corrupt compared to their western counterparts.
And the answer to this question is simple. If you’re a foreigner, you can’t legally own a firearm of any sort here. You’ll go to jail and risk being deported. Even if you’re married to a Filipino, you can’t have a gun in her name—police officials will just assume the gun is yours.
Of course, it’s different if you are rich and well-connected. Even some Filipinos who don’t have gun permits can buy a gun for their home in the belief that dying from a criminal is worse than facing jail time. You can always buy off the cops later. Or you can say that you took the gun from the intruder. That will work too.
But if you are rich, just hire a security firm to protect you, your loved ones, and your home. When there’s trouble, the firm will be responsible for their guard’s action.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Philippines Video
Watch this video I created to answer some of your questions about the Philippines.
One last reminder, Living in the Philippines is a great idea for some people, but you need to EASE IN SLOWLY with your eyes open. Make sure you understand and educate yourself to reduce the chance of you getting into any kind of trouble.
If you have any more questions about the Philippines, visit our website at BADLADZ.COM or you can come to see me at BADLADZ here in Puerto Galera Philippines. I can talk all day about this stuff.