Are foreigners allowed to establish a business in the Philippines

Dear Calif-Native

Your explanation regarding having a business in Philippines is quite extensive and informative, I will certainly read through it thoroughly bit later but I really appreciate your professional approach to explaining all the fine detail.

Many thanks

Sadly Karen I'm yet to hear of any good stories about this and the 1 point I'd like to make is that we are foreigners and called foreigners here not Australian , English , American etc because the word foreign means it doesn't belong but if you were in my country you would be called Filipino

Hi Mattrey

Just read your message here and its funny you pointed out this and yes you are absolutely correct. I am an Australian and if I met a Filipino person here in Australia I would refer to them as Filipino.

Thank you for sharing this,

It only takes one or two bad experiences to ruin it for the rest.....

Great post Kaaren, nothing but respect to you ad your country.

Foreigners can lease land in the Philippines for up to 50 years. Most leases are usually for 25 years with the right of renewal for another 25 years, thus a total of 50 years. Therefore if the foreigner builds on the land, he or she owns the building, not the land.

agree. but there are some exceptions so foreigners could also own a land :)

I don't know of any foreigners who own land outright in the Philippines. A foreigner can own 40% of the property but the remaining  portion of the property must be owned by a Filipino. A corporation can be formed but the majority of the corporation will still be controlled by Filipinos. Currently there is no way a foreigner can own land outright here in the Philippines. A foreigner can lease land but will not own it..

Lack of knowledge arises from lack of information  😇

I totally agree, believe only 5% or less of what you hear, particularly from expats. There are a lot of so called experts out there.

Good day to you

My girlfriend in the Philipppines wishes to buy a salon of some Filipinas as they want to move abroad, now l am a non resident and will be funding this business opportunity for my girlfriend,  but l want my name on the Bill of Sale, does this sound like enough documents for us to legally own this salon and am l legally able to be part owner ???


Macca777 :

Good day to you

My girlfriend in the Philipppines wishes to buy a salon of some Filipinas as they want to move abroad, now l am a non resident and will be funding this business opportunity for my girlfriend,  but l want my name on the Bill of Sale, does this sound like enough documents for us to legally own this salon and am l legally able to be part owner ???


you may but not viable coz you'll be paying high income tax. you may opt to put up a corporation and put your name as one of the incorporators. :) pm me for more questions

How much do they want for the salon? Have they shown you P&L's?

@ MECCA777,

Your question details are bit different from your title but you still need to move slow and with great caution.  You/your GF will need to seriously consider doing the following to collect as much data as possible (prior to directly spending 1 peso on deposit/purchase):

1.  Investigate/obtain proof of current business documents:
- BIR records, permits and related history with clear and current name(s)
- 3+ years of the latest tax returns that will show declared profit/loss figures.
- City/mayor's permit that shows actual location with name(s) the business is permitted to.
- Lease agreement that supports/allows a new human(s) or judicial owner.
- All related TD (Tax Declaration) history.

2.  Investigate/obtain receipts of all equipment to confirm the actual owner(s).

3. Do not place your name as the buyer if it involves land (TCT) or a business listed in the Negative A/B lists as not allowed to be owned by foreigners without breaking into the $2M USD deposit requirement realm, as that can cause the transfer and lic/permit to be voided.  You can not legally own or purchase a business that is illegal for a foreigner to buy or own.

4. Sign/notarize a private agreement (between you/GF) regarding the investment actions you are taking and explain the money source/lending strategy ( loan terms, etc.) between you/your GF and how it (the money) will be "landed" in the Philippines.  Keep your "investment" money source or path clear and legal and use bank transfers each time. No cash transactions!!!

5. Investigate/obtain all needed steps/rules for establishing a Filipino corp with a foreign board member (that will not be structured/active as a corporate officer/employee).  Review SEC & Constitution for the best understanding.

6.  Consider registering for an SIRV (Special Investor's Resident Visa from BI) if your investment funds are at least $75K USD.  More details at:

7.  Avoid paid advice from an attorney, if possible.  If you still feel you need legal advice, at least wait until you/your GF have completed your investigations and understand all of those data collections.

Best wishes.

I have asked for P&L but its only 4 months old and wasnt open every day, asking 350,000

On first review, it seems a bit much/to risky for a new/unknown business.  They (the sellers) should be able to provide startup cost receipts so you can see the actual costs vs their intended profit.  Since Php 350K / $6860 is beyond so many locals, be careful here.  Please plug-in /turn on your "SCAMDAR" to reduce possible scamming.

Just slowly follow the items I outlined and get full answers.  If all of this is in a rented or leased space, then what does P350K really buy? 

Consider further evaluations that add to what I have already outlined with a listing that spells out such details as who owns/will own:
Trade name? If any
Internet domain?  If any
Existing website or ????

It is my opinion that you are missing well over 85% of the vital info needed to make a wise/well informed buy/investment decision on this matter.

Lastly, it is possible that you/your GF are new to the investment evaluation process and may never see a ROI.  As a minimum, consider learning as much as possible about this term "ROI".  After completing your detailed research and obtaining 4 months of operational performance data, fine-tune your numbers on the conservative side (be as realistic as possible with only 4 months of data) and plug in the numbers along with your $$$ numbers to the below provided "ROI Calculator" for your own peace of mind.

Again, best wishes.

I have screenshot your previous recommendation,  l truly appreciate your advice thank you


You are very welcome and I hope it helps you make the most informed decision.

Yes again thank you kindly


Moderated by Bhavna last year
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@ Paoyo,

Please explain your attempts at providing false and or misleading information to expats?  A money changer business must be either a sole proprietor, corporation or partnership.  It is illegal for a foreigner to be a sole proprietor in the Philippines without a $200K min. investment. 

It is misleading when you fail to post these facts. 

In addition to the requirement that one must also apply to the SSS, Pagibig, DOLE and Philhealth, there is a Central Bank requirement to attend their Anti-Money Laundering Seminar.  Obtaining SSS is legal but very complex for a foreigner (based on Citizen's Charter of the Social Security System, 1st Edition, December 2009).  However, there are BI and DOLE registration requirements.   

It is misleading when you fail to post these facts.

After all of the above, please address why you are attempting to offer "commercial real-estate" to expats on this section of the forum?? 

In addition to forum rules, please be reminded of certain provisions under RA 9646 (June 29, 2009), ARTICLE III LICENSURE EXAMINATION AND REGISTRATION, Section 19. Revocation or Suspension of the Certificate of Registration and the Professional Identification Card or Cancellation of Special/Temporary Permit for:
(a) Procurement of a certificate of registration and/or professional identification card, or special/temporary permit by fraud or deceit;

(b) Allowing an unqualified person to advertise or to practice the profession by using one's certificate of registration or professional identification card, or special/temporary permit;

(c) Unprofessional or unethical conduct;

(d) Malpractice or violation of any of the provisions of this Act, its implementing rules and regulations, and the Code of Ethics and Responsibilities for real estate service practitioners; and

(e) Engaging in the practice of the profession during the period of one's suspension.

And ARTICLE IV PRACTICE OF REAL ESTATE SERVICE, Section 29. Prohibition Against the Unauthorized Practice of Real Estate Service. Which states:

"No person shall practice or offer to practice real estate service in the Philippines or offer himself/herself as real estate service practitioner, or use the title, word, letter, figure or any sign tending to convey the impression that one is a real estate service practitioner, or advertise or indicate in any manner whatsoever that one is qualified to practice the profession, or be appointed as real property appraiser or assessor in any national government entity or local government unit, unless he/she has satisfactorily passed the licensure examination given by the Board, except as otherwise provided in this Act, a holder of a valid certificate of registration, and professional identification card or a valid special/temporary permit duly issued to him/her by the Board and the Commission, and in the case of real estate brokers and private appraisers, they have paid the required bond as hereto provided."


Yes, with conditions.   A new business can be micro-sized to large (500K to 100M) and find ways to start 'legally'.   The conditions in the philippines are best observed yourself by walking the cities (which is slow enough for you to make clear observations)

Like most nations, having a native-partner is usually key.   Licensing need only take place for operations above the 5M peso range, and the risk factors long-term to your investment is 'essentially the same' for ANY level of investment and return on investment.

Present conditions, according to several close friends and business owners/operators in the Philippines (all of them filipino) is clear; corruption by officials is so widespread, that if you make a 'display' or 'obvious publically viewed' business; knocks on the door and 'hands to be buttered' will come to you again, and again.   If you hire more than 10 people, you'll end up feeling pressure to hire some 'distant relative' of some junior official, who will do little or no work.

Positives:   the real positives is the endeavor to 'get a sale' and 'show a true profit'.   

Smart research and investigation can yield 40 to 80% reductions in raw goods, location leasing, etc.   Again, if you expect a 'gorgious business', you will attract the wrong kind of attention continually.

OBSERVATIONS:   the power of observation is vital.   From business names, to the 'design' of a building's structure, reflects a multitude of foreign investors who came, invested, built, and left with a loss.   

... simple observation:   how many joint-venture small or large business operations can you 'find' in any city in the Philippines, with a 'history of joint profiting' of more than 10 years?    For those investments where it was an outlay of under 100M Pesos; ... dead zero.

... One couple bought land to run a farm to raise a certain food product, and then build a 'guest house' for vacationers.   Before they could see any return by the 2nd year, their operation was eroding through graft by various means.  They dreamed of building their own dream house; but just as over 2 million expats have done (you can see their left-behind abandoned homes now owned by others in Every city in the Philippines).... you come, you invest, you build, and over time, they simply drive you out.

... For those  businesses which were 'truly built as partnerships', I have found only ONE that has survived past 5 years and still has the bulk of it's operation, and gross profits, under then joint hands of the original India and Filipino partners, equally.   

THESE observations are 'outside of manila'  ..  Manila is a bit different, for it DOES have foreign partnershp businesses, but those are mostly 'shelters and homesteads' for wealthy foreigners and again in most cases only retain 'property use access' not true 'profit taking' quarterly or long-term.

... the 'disease' of the philippines is it's corruption of officials, it's hatred of foreigners, and it's lack of ethical tolerance for 'sharing' even 40% of the profits with a foreign investor who brought 100% of the cash to build a production business.   

PITFALLS:   Do NOT intend to marry a local, and then start a business.  She will, with hidden pressure from family and her own deep dislike for this nation, push you past that fancy house you willl build, decorate and furnish.... only to end up leaving anyway.    I have talked with, and visited MANY MANY homes built by foreigners with filipino wives. 
>.... THIS is what happens:    he brings enough to build a lavish concrete, tiled house with 2-4 bedrooms or more, often 2 baths (CRs), and furnishes it with great furniture, western standards of all amenities, and the top brands of air conditioners, water heaters, etc. .....  and within under 3 years of him enjoying this house with his bride...  she 'pushes' him to 'depart the nation'.    Once they move, and in 98% of all occurrances from first hand observed evidence (I"m in the Philippines for a while now researching business and foreign investment results)....  her family 'takes over' the house, often not to live in it, but to strip it 1/2 or fully bare, and then rent it out at extravangant prices with 1 year leases.   He, the foreign husband, with his wife retains joint ownership, but the control is her family.   Many western husbands use this for one purpose:  he allows her family to 'rent' his and his wife's house or condo,... and this gets them OFF his financial back, for say.

FACTORIES AND EXPORTING:   Unless you have, as my friend in LA does (who exports to the USA, importing raw goods into Manila, makes finished products in a village outside manila, then exports back out).. like him, if you have 'connections' with key powerful offiials, THEN and only then can you pay 'global sensible taxes' on imported unfinished goods, and proceed to build a factory, make finished goods locally for both domestic and global sale.

PHILIPPINE PITFALL TO FACTORIES:   It is remarkable that the government, with a very few 'billionair' families in this nation, are willing to 'enslave the entire population' by NOT producing any basic durable goods 'in the country'.   ALL major appliances, aircons, etc. are made abroad and imported in.   China and others 'buy lumber' from the Philippines, make furniture, then export it back to the philippines.   This nation simply 'refuses' to make it's own durable goods products!   It is something even local businessmen 'accept', and have no sense or interest in changing.

Therefore, all philippines families must pay from 100 to often 500% more for the same goods you'd find in the USA, HK, and even in Viet Nam!

.... when several KEY textile importers in the USA decided to 'stop' buying from China.... they reviewed all other nations.....   and the result was amazingly obvious....

Democratic Philippines 'lost' , and continues to loose, thousands of potential NEW factories for textiles....  because of 'government and mega-rich families' in the Philippines who are racist, prejudiced, and enjoy 'enslaving everyone' so they MUST get a 'piece' of every single durable good product sold in the Philippines.

This is why, in just the last 4 years, NEW factories were built in Thialand, Cambodia, Viet Nam, India, etc..... and NOT in the Philippines.

Agents and Executives did fly into the Philippines.   Some went past Manila and direct to various regional areas.   When they inquired to local governments as to 'registering' a joint-venture with 55% local filipino ownership, the 'enourmity' of the multiple fees, taxes, and other charges.... made the process 'long, delayed and costly'.   
... example:    one US company wanted to lease land, build 3 buildings:   a.  factory for making sweaters and other textile goods.    b.  residence and office building  (workers would mostly live on-site),   c.   warehouse and logistics center.    They had two local Filipino partners who would own the majority of the factory operation, and co-manage it.   
.... the outlay investment for land-lease, and build/furnish the structuers was about 50M pesos initially.
.... WHAT stopped them from doing it?
a.  officials wanted '30%' of every million invested, in so-called fees, charges, etc.
     this could have been accepted, but the delays and 'ongoing new charges' discouraged them.
b.  bringing in 12 leavy machines to manufacture and process finished products, became a 'cost nightmere', where for each machine costing roughly $89,000 USD, the import taxes, fees, etc etc were nearly 170% of this.
c.   bringing in 'wool, cotton' and other fabric, some local and some imported, was 200% more expensive in wholesale bulk here, than any nation on earth.
d.  access to 'exporting' the finished goods, took on new additional fees and charges.
e.   domestic distribution, became like 'working with a gang of mafia'.   

Typically, they were looking at a financial 'return' no later than the 3rd year.   Most nations with NEW factories (Cambodia and Viet Nam for instance), saw the American investmetn company 'in the black' by the 2nd year of importing finished textile goods.

But due to the a-e above, and the 'insistance' of officials to have their family relatives work at the factory (often doing little or no work, for high pay).....   the company realized NO projected Net-Net within or at the end of the third year.

... the corroption, multiple fees and charges, and costs to product, import raw, and export finished goods was more than twice the costs of any other nation on this planet, in the Philippines.

Now a word on how 'all philippine citizens' MUST pay money to the wealthiest key families:   these families control 100% of all the imported finished durable goods.   With the government, and with their control of all distribution channels, any wholesale bulk shipment of containers of, for example, air conditioners, carry and 180 to 250% import combined taxes/fees.   NOT all of these actually go TO the central government, but are discounted by these key mega-wealthy families who 'tax goods' themselves.

An 10btu airconditioner, in factory wholesale at say $28. USD, is 'upped' again and again by those controlling the importing and distribution of this aircon, to bring it to a whopping $155 to 340. USD final price once delivered to any other city retailer.   Retailers hold minor 'markups' and a notable % of these retailers are 'large chains' again controlled by the same few families.   
....this is the condition of 'business' in the Philippines.

USA, example.   company buys in built 10,000 btu aircons from China, famed brand, at 28.00 each, .....  note:  this is for buying over 5,000 units, so greatly discounted and substidized in part by China and in part by USA though lower import duties.    Importer pays 'discounted' minor import duty, ships to hub of retail chain, (walmart), and then to the walmart store.. which sells it at $129 to $149. each.     Considering taxes, transportation, shipping to the USA, retail space/sale costs, Walmart enjoys a net profit of about $40 per airconditioner. 

PHILLIPINES, example.   company buys same 10,000 btu aircons from same China company, at 28USD each.   Buying only 2000 units at this same price.   Shipping costs are 'much lower' and are FOB to Manila's hub at this price.   Marked up twice through fees and duties, and then by the family controlled company who bought these, they are then shipped by ship and truck to other major hub cities and privincial capitals.   Marked up now to over $100 USD (5,000 pesos each), they are then marked up again before final 'delivery' (including ship or truck transit) to bring it up to 10,000 pesos or $200.usd.    the 'final' mark up retail price often comes in at $260 to $320 USD (or 14,000 to 19,000 pesos each unit).   The central government gets 33%, local officials 10% (by various means), the family takes 25%, and the rest are costs to import and deliver into the hands of the individual family or person at the mall or store.     

SAD NEWS:    an aircon is one of the simpliest electronic items to produce in the world.   No longer with compressors, the modern designs take less than 8,000sm factory floor to bring from raw material up to finished final product.   It's components are 'simple' with one central controller, a panel for the user, wires, and 2 converters with fan and thermal core at max.   (some of those new designs have only 1 fan and motor, and no other moving parts or pumps).     The Philippines could be producing an effiecent, basic model at 17% of the current wholesale costs, and bring 'benefit and income' back into every family in the country.

The same goes with furniture....   they export hardwoods, and import 'plastic, fiber glued and rusting metal' furniture back into the country.    You will find 10s of thousands of furniture shops and factories making furniture in China,... but in most cities, not ONE!

So the poverty of the Philippines is simple....  prejudices against 'sharing a minor portion' of profits with ANYONE of any other nation, and the greedy enslavement of the masses by less than 200 national families..... is WHY.

Some say that if a man and his wife started to make 'furniture' in some city and sell in a store....  officials would 'stop' them!

...  so investing in the Philippines.. is 'highly risky, and very short termed'.

MANY expats 'think' they can build a 'apartment guest house' and rent to foreigners....  the problems are:

1.   they often over-charge expats to live there, charging equal and often more than any 'nice hotel'.
2.   they are again 'plagued' by visits by officials and officers holding their hands out, and expecting 'a monthly take'.
3.   their spouse often 'liquidates' the business to immigrate abroad.

overall, i have not met, or found ONE SINGLE FOREIGNER who brought cash, and was able to 'maintain' his business with some simple personal profit for 10 years or more. .not ONE in this nation.

unlike Thailand, for example, where you can find 'joint ventures' where foreigners 'still' get a small portion of the 'net net profit' each quarter.

... i would advise anyone..  to consider some other nation..... until the national 'monopoly' by these 200 families is broken, and the government stopped 'hating foreign joint venture investors'.


walk and jeepnee or taxi the city you are considering investing in.

watch closely for 'obvious foreign home or business designs, names and appearances'....

and...  see if it is still 'jointly operated and profiting' or not.

... you will NOT find, outside manila, in any province or city.... a SINGLE foreign joint-venture business with a 10+ year history where the expat still receives actual 'money profits' from their business themselves.  Not ONE.

climate; total risk, no return after 3 years.

Hi all,

A lot of information here.

I'm a Singaporean and thinking of bringing a business into the Philippines next year.

Since i do not have a spouse, i think the best suited business structure for me would be a corporation. Do anyone of you have any tips regarding managing the risks of giving close to 60% of the ownership to others? I have some friends in Manila whom i can trust but its never wrong to be safe.

My business will be something to do with live printing for corporations. Is this type of business eligible for the 40/60 law?

Can anyone give an insight to how I, as a business owner, will be taxed?

Additionally, does anyone have a good breakdown of costs (visa etc) for a foreigner staying in Manila?

Appreciate all your help!

@ CherHow,

This Forum is full of so many posts regarding your questions. If you are not sure where to start, please review my August 18, 2017 post as a starting place and be prepared to do as much research as possible to confirm all postings. 

Example: If you are not prepared to understand the "Negative A/B Lists", you will not be prepared to understand and deal with the 60/40 requirements (i.e., like min. paid in capital requirements, etc.) for a Phil corporation with foreign stockholders. 

You must get, review, learn/understand related business operational requirements/info from the Phil government on rules, regulations and laws in order the best understand the questions you currently ask, any future questions you will need to ask and the best answers to all of your questions (for your situation).

Best wishes.

Dear Girl,
With all respect for you and your family. I was reading this forum without registering for long time. Your  post made me do it. You say that Filipino are family united. Yes they are. They love to meet each other etc, but when you started talking about foreigner married to Filipina and understanding family bonds. Sorry does not work like that. When Filipina is married to foreigner there is only one rule. Get as much as possible. Is got nothing to do with family because you will never recognise foreign husband as a part of family. Right. So telling expats about this rule is pure lie. How it works in Philippines. Does rich or richer family member support family. Not. Accept some lonely kuyas who have no one live for. So how does it work. Brother from family has not responsibility support family. All responsibility is on daughter arms. She has responsibility give money for all family including mother, father and brothers. Do you think is right? Its using people. That is why you have millions Filipinas working abroad as OFW. Abused working in poor condition. They been implemented that stupid way of thinking. You say this is culture. Not this is way of making money using relatives. When you change this way of thinking this will be first step to get out of third world. Its a shame that person like you says this is culture which is actually again Christianity and God. It is simply scam. The good news is many Filipino people working abroad figured out that money does not grow on threes in Western World and I know personally many families that refused to support only because they work abroad. Why? You answered my question in your post. Because family getting free money usually spend this money for Tanduay. They have easy life much more easiest then then relatives working abroad. I went truth this I have experienced this. I was even good to same stage when me and my wife working and living abroad discovered that they dont deserve this. It took me one year to explain my wife that this system you called this family united it is just scam. After almost breaking she understood. When you say if you dont understand Filipino culture. I will tell you. If you Pinoy pride and you the best have a look around and see that you not always right. There is many cultures in the world many people many problems. On the end of the day. They all needs to make money. Some of them even in Philippines work hard making money. Some fallow the schedule its better to sacrifice daughter and get money from foreigner. On the end yes foreigners can easily establish business even not being married to Filipina. They are lawyers filling up documents with fake Filipino people formatting corporation. Its easy to buy land run any business. As long you believe in corruption.

Tee post above written by IrekSikorski , poses a very interesting topic and  might be better placed in a separate forum here on expat.  Very factual information posted, and arguably very true.

Its probably not the right place to post it. Like you said needs new topic, but is very alive. It could be very interesting discussion about many issues.

I agree with you that was an unnecessary comment..Mail Bride.. nasty nasty!!!!Seemingly sour grapes, I presume it's only the 'green monster' rearing it's ugly head. Fancy all of those beautiful Filipino women stealing their men. naughty girls!!!! haa haa...  And to boot this person is obviously years behind in regard to the dating scene. I am sure it's not 'mail brides' these days, maybe 'Facebook brides' or 'email brides' and seemingly far more popular in the West than in the Philippines today.

Im sorry for my ignorance, what is BPO?

Well said.. bottom line?  If you are selfish and greedy, you won't like the PHils. They do share and share alike.

I am sure you can do business here in the philippines , the right question you should ask ( is it allowed to own 100% percent of a corporate business here in the Philippines or not you have to share it with a filipino .?)
That might be posible if you go yourself to departement if trade to be sure and security of exchange commission.
Dont ever trust other to do things for you, do it yourself. Specially when it come to business documentation's or bank account or buying home or anything involved with money.
Its very risky to have business with a filipino specially women's. even your wive.
I know many foreigners been cheated and not only that they were kicked out of their own homes.
Keep your wive if she is a filipina a way from your wealth ( business , home , bank account and so on .)
If you ask filipina is it possible for me to own business 100% the answer most probably no , for her to have the chance to be your business partner paying nothing and later she will make it here business by way or other.

Be carful doing business with your girl friend or even your eive if she is a filipina .
Dont regret later but if the capital 5k of dollars then its ok but don’t go far than that.

Dear Calif,

I'm in LAX, but have 11.5 years experience in Asia, and in missions during marawi battles in the Philippines last year.

While there, a Philippine Col. Patrick told me about a 'special economic zone' being developed in the Philippines by Pres. Duarte'.   

When activated, it would offer 'joint venture' and 'wholly foreign-owned' venture licenses and 5-year tax and import allowances in an accelerated program.

I'm Timothy David Zickafoos, here on, who was asked by them to do pre-design of that large city-facility.

So I would admonish you to ask me later when I return in July in Manila and later another city..

but for now:

1.  Business in the Philippines has risks.  You can not own 'ground level' and the fees and permits are extensive and require a local.   Using a new PH spouse to establish business has a 99% failure rate; (verified) as to staying in-country with her, and not losing control of your business after you leave.  For this reason, 99.99% of all foreign investments in homes, buildings, and business structures (capital investments) have reverted back to sole Philippine native and official control and ownership in under 5 years over the last 40 years.  You can see this in 'western or European' businesses with old signs, and structures and designs where, with some insider research, were paid for by investors abroad but seized or taken over.

2.  Most successful foreign people doing business do so 'by internet'.  The Philippines does not produce most of its own garments or other consumer goods, and nearly no furniture, cars, appliances, etc are produced in-country.  WIth the key families who control the nation, import tariffs and graft have resulted in 'horribly high' costs of even phones, etc.   ..   results:  phones and appliances are, in USD equivalent, 2 times or more expensive than that same product sold in the USA, but made in China or other countries.   President Duarte is seeking to 'change' this, but does have a lot of delays and opposition form 'quick profit' seeking wealthy families who don't want to let go of 'national control' over whole segments of the economy.  His vision is correct, to make the Philippines both international and an 'export nation' who produces most of its OWN internally consumed goods.

...  countless people think they can buy land, have a farm or ranch, or start a factory.   And there are 100s of thousands of expats, like you the investor-reader, who have built houses and apartment buildings or even small communities for business; and lost total control of their investment well within 5 years.   

MOST girls are out for 'family profit', sadly enough.  They are good people, but the REAL motive is to 'get the green card to another nation'.   Not knowing that many foreign nations, like the USA, are so 'poor and in debt' that everyone is watching for the 'greek collapse' of the US Dollar and economy.  Not to mention anti-Jesus and anti-traditional family is 'hostile by rules' in America from the workplace to housing.   Prejudice against 'male and female marriages and families' is on the rise; like in Portland Oregon, where they 'openly' demand you 'accept all things as normal' and notably hate US veterans (many of whom are more traditionally valuing).

3.  However, business opportunities in the Philippines, if our dear Duarte is successful, will become 'favorable' to TRUE life-long joint ventures of factories and other facilities.

For now, we are ALL waiting for 'laws and SEZs' to be enacted.   It will be VERY good for the Filipino peoples.

God bless all Filipinos with every success!

Hi Mark,
I'm planning to open a bar in Palawan. I have been to the country three times and I love it there. There are many bars owned by foreigners there and I'm pretty sure the majority of them didn't put $2.5M investment in the business.
Could anyone give a good advice, please?
By the way, I have a good Filipina friend that I can trust, how could she help me to launch my business?


This topic has some history here and many opinions have been shared.  The best response I offer is actually centered around your use of words and if or how you want to be in compliance with the law. 

Assuming you want to follow the laws, here are my opinions:

First - Determine what you mean by "owned by".  Are you talking 100% sole ownership/sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or? 

Note: Even for sole proprietors, you need to register through the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). 

Second - Determine if you want to comply with the law.  I can tell you that compliance means having a very good understanding of and able to deal with the following:
Mayor’s business permit,
DOLE - staff and or worker requirements,
Possible Registration with Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD),
Pag-Ibig Fund and

Third - Make sure you understand Republic Act No. 7042 or the Foreign Investments Act of 1991 (FIA)  as it relates to your desired business.

Fourth - Do you understand the domestic market enterprises rules?

Fifth - What are your skills regarding leasing and building/land true ownership investigations?  Will your business be on a commercial space, private land, subdivision, condo or village?  What is the local zoning?  Each requires different docs if you intend to be legal.

Sixth - What equipment budget are you considering?  Example: How many cold drinks can you keep cold at one time and what is the size/cost of the refrigeration unit(s) you need to support just the drinking?

Seventh - Know who your target clients are (expats, locals or mixed) and structure food, drinks and design ambiance accordingly (like free WIFI inside the bar only).

Lastly, you will need to review the pros and cons of what goes in whom's name and what is their citizenship?

If you are interested in following the law, the above should help.   Best wishes.

Paperworks and legworks wont exceed $3,000.00. You're filipina friend could lend her name to help you get through government requirements with convenience. :) depending on the type of your entity (sole, partnership or corporation), permits done in a month time ;)

If you have more legal or other questions, pls dont hesitate to send message ;)

Hi, Thanks for the reply and for all the information.
To answer to your question, Yes, I want to have a legal business with all appropriate licences.
My only concern is; do I need an investment of $2,5M to start the business? I have a good Filipina friend that could help with the 60/40% partnership and then be just a silent partner. But, I just need to know about the investment requirements. Can I bypass the $2.5 M?
Thanks a lot.

Hi professor cebu,
Thanks for the reply.
I want to open a bar with a small gaming area (about 20 slot machines) in Puerto Princessa. I want to start a genuine business and in the future help the community. I need advice. I like the Philippines. I'm not planning to just making money there, but to live as well. Would you have any ideas on that matter? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you

Republic Act No. 8762 or the Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2000 will trigger the $2.5M minimum capital for foreign retail investors that want to wholly own.  Currently, the law states that a retail enterprise with paid-up capital of less than $2.5 million "shall be reserved exclusively for Filipino citizens and corporations wholly owned by Filipino citizens."   

There is an ongoing rumor the government plans to lower the required minimum capital for foreign retail investors who want to put up a store in the country to $200,000.   

Nonetheless, this is where I mentioned your need to understand the type of business structure you seek.  Sooooo no,  $2.5M is not required if you will never own more than 40% and the balance of 60% is filipino owned.

1.  I am not aware of a foreign owned sole proprietorship that can legally avoid the $2.5M. 
2.  Some may want to do the partnership route.   Remember, a partnership has a separate juridical personality & it does not have the right of succession. (i.e.,  the partnership will automatically be dissolved in case of death, incapacity, withdrawal or insolvency of any of the partners).  So, yes foreign nationals may invest as a limited or a general partner and legally avoid the $2.5M.
3.  My opinion is to consider a corporation.  Since a corporation is an artificial being created by operation of law, it has the right of succession (and the powers, attributes and properties expressly authorized by law or incident to its existence).  So, yes foreign nationals may invest as much as a 40% share in a Philippine corporation (within the limits allowed by law /Negative A & B lists) and legally avoid the $2.5M.
4.  Review BI Form V-NI-007-Rev 1. for AEP ( … ersion.pdf) for a Visa conversion (9G Visa) to legally work in your business.
5.  Review BI for Special Investors Resident Visa (SIRV) requirements.
6.  A quick reminder of a Supreme Court ruling (PACIFIC CONSULTANTS G.R. No. 166920) on this topic is as follows:

PACIFIC CONSULTANTS G.R. No. 166920 states;

"SECTION 1. Coverage. This rule shall apply to all aliens employed or seeking employment in the Philippines and the present or prospective employers.

SECTION 2. Submission of list. All employers employing foreign nationals, whether resident or non-resident, shall submit a list of nationals to the Bureau indicating their names, citizenship, foreign and local address, nature of employment and status of stay in the Philippines.

SECTION 3. Registration of resident aliens. All employed resident aliens shall register with the Bureau under such guidelines as may be issued by it.

SECTION 4. Employment permit required for entry. No alien seeking employment, whether as a resident or non-resident, may enter the Philippines without first securing an employment permit from the Ministry. If an alien enters the country under a non-working visa and wishes to be employed thereafter, he may only be allowed to be employed upon presentation of a duly approved employment permit.

SECTION 5. Requirements for employment permit applicants. The application for an employment permit shall be accompanied by the following:

(a) Curriculum vitae duly signed by the applicant indicating his educational background, his work experience and other data showing that he possesses technical skills in his trade or profession.

(b) Contract of employment between the employer and the principal which shall embody the following, among others:

1. That the non-resident alien worker shall comply with all applicable laws and rules and regulations of the Philippines;
2. That the non-resident alien worker and the employer shall bind themselves to train at least two (2) Filipino understudies for a period to be determined by the Minister; and
3. That he shall not engage in any gainful employment other than that for which he was issued a permit.

(c) A designation by the employer of at least two (2) understudies for every alien worker. Such understudies must be the most ranking regular employees in the section or department for which the expatriates are being hired to insure the actual transfer of technology.

Under Section 6 of the Rule, the DOLE may issue an alien employment permit based only on the following:

(a) Compliance by the applicant and his employer with the requirements of Section 2 hereof;

(b) Report of the Bureau Director as to the availability or non-availability of any person in the Philippines who is competent and willing to do the job for which the services of the applicant are desired;

(c) His assessment as to whether or not the employment of the applicant will redound to the national interest;

(d) Admissibility of the alien as certified by the Commission on Immigration and Deportation;

(e) The recommendation of the Board of Investments or other appropriate government agencies if the applicant will be employed in preferred areas of investments or in accordance with the imperative of economic development."

Ref. gaming:
- Have you reviewed  Section 18 of Republic Act No. 9160, as amended by Section 5 of Republic Act No. 10927?
- Have you reviewed all requirements under the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) and do you understand that it is 100% owned by the Philippine government?
- Have you considered that Nonresident aliens might be subject to 30% tax on gambling winnings?
- Have you reviewed the fact that per IRS: "Foreign income. If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, you must report income from sources outside the United States (foreign income) on your tax return unless it is exempt by U.S. law".?

No matter your final decision or the words presented here, you will need to deeply research and study your options in great detail.  Best wishes again!

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