Are foreigners allowed to establish a business in the Philippines


Needed to know if foreigners are allowed to establish any kind of  business in the Philippines.  If so, what are the possible avenues?

My understanding is no. Will need to have 60% investment by Philippino citizens. The country is not very open to foreign investment.

Hello shalinit,

May be this article might also help you: Investment in Philippine!

just do what Im going to do if you can! Im giving 2000 dollars to my girlfriend and her family! Then, we will invest in together into a business! Not sure what we are going to do yet! I have a few small ideas! I am taking advice on this matter! What kind of businesses can we start up with 5000 dollars in the Philippines?
Thank you and God bless   Craig

Thanks Craig..


Hmmm - some of you have given incorrect information.

Yes foreigners can have a business 100% fully owned but there are rules and paperwork regarding that matter and its a lot to discuss in this forum.

With regards to real estate, a foreigner can have 100% property ownership, if its a condo (provided that 70% of the condo ownership in the building are Filipinos) and owning a land no more than ???? sq m (I wrote "?" because Im not sure what is the current statute for that nowadays).

60% or 70% refers to owning a land exceeding 1000 sqm - of which you need a Filipino co-owner for that. The reason being that you need a Filipino co-owner, if in case you failed to pay the real estate taxes and VAT, the BIR can chase the Filipino co-owner and put a lien on your property.

If your would be paid-up capital is not going to be in millions of pesos then forget it.

Not only you need the bond money, you need return ticket back to your country as well, that alone cost more than a million.

So yah loads of money buys ownership eh.


Do you have a comprehension problem? Obviously you did not read my text carefully.

Just want to shut you can go to

- PROVISIONS UNDER BP 185 (Applies to acquisition of land for purposes of residence)
- Foreign Investment Act of 1991
- RA 8179, pertinent to land ownership by former Filipinos:

Foreigners can buy condo and apartment units and own them 100%. Foreigners can also own 100% of corporations as long as the activity is not restricted by the Foreign Investment Negative List.

60% or 70% refers to owning a land exceeding 1000 sqm - of which you need a Filipino co-owner for that. The reason being that you need a Filipino co-owner, if in case you failed to pay the real estate taxes and VAT, the BIR can chase the Filipino co-owner and put a lien on your property.

Yes you need a return ticket unless you are a permanent residence or equivalent. And if the custom allowed you to enter without a return ticket, probably because that custom was either lazy or just missed to point out that you need it. It's only a matter of time that one day you will get caught and would be deported for not having a return ticket.

Let me guess Pluma99 you may be one of those foreign men who complained for not being treated with entitlement? Duh

If I am wrong, then how come I own a parcel of land and a condominium. The policies were clearly mentioned to me before the sales of properties.

If foreigners can't own a business then the Philippines wouldn't have

- call centers
- free zones
- multi dwelling development like condominium type buildings

You think those commercial businesses are owned solely by Filipinos then you must be stupid.

Please refrain from your prejudistic outlook you probably married a mail order bride who is just as dumb are you are!

And its not only Philippines that do have policy restriction regarding ownership of business.  So many countries do that, its gotta be that you are a permanent residence or hold some kind of long term visa (other than employment visa). I never heard of a country that allows foreign ownership of a business without regard to policies about paying taxes, paying employees wages, lease of an office, registration of a business..


You can visit this site for the right information.

Trust this would be of help

one concrete example that a foreigner can invest in and own the business 100% is exports.

tonyrances, please stop posting your links, advertisement is not allowed on the forum

What type of visa do you have?  Your options will be limited to the type that you have.

Is setting up / owning a business here a long-term goal, and are you planning to stay here long-term?

Ask a trusted Filipino friend to ask that question for you at the Department of Foreign Affairs or Immigration Bureau what your best strategy would be, i.e. what is the best type of visa or permit, that you are actually eligible for, will you need to achieve your goal.

hi shalinit,

actually you are allowed to venture any business your want but you need to understand your going to venture legal and will register to the rules and regulation of the authority of our country. you need to address a;; necessary thing to established your business here in our country.



There's an article about putting up an internet cafe in the Philippines for non-Filipinos. The author mentioned about having your Filipino spouse own the business therefore making you an "indirect" owner because it is conjugal property.

Putting up an internet cafe in the Philippines for Non-Filipinos -

If you are considering starting a retail business and you want to have 100% of it owned by you, then you need to invest around 2.5Million US dollars. :) as indicated in Section 5 of Republic Act 8762 of the Philippines.

fear4freedom :

just do what Im going to do if you can! Im giving 2000 dollars to my girlfriend and her family! Then, we will invest in together into a business! Not sure what we are going to do yet! I have a few small ideas! I am taking advice on this matter! What kind of businesses can we start up with 5000 dollars in the Philippines?
Thank you and God bless   Craig

Craig, i dont mean to have a dig at you, but your advice is absolutely horrible and makes me cringe. Say goodbye to your investment buddy and please dont send her anymore money. Ive heard this story so many times. My good friend from japan last year invested 300,000 pesos into his filipina Girlfriends family new tricycle business. Needless to say as soon as the family got the money, they didnt even buy tricycles, they just spent it on crap and debt. I hear this story almost every week. it has 100% failure rate, never seen or heard of it working with this set up. Usually its not even the GF who screws over the foreigner, but the GF's family instead. ive been living here in the philippines as an expat for seven years and its quite sad sometimes, i see guys loose hundreds of thousands of dollars here by buying houses and properties and businesses, then the GF says screw you.

Oh and every guys always say na my girl is different, thats just because those guys have a mail order bride or something like that, my girl is educated and her family is so nice. You watch how quick things change once your handed over money.

Anyways about the topic. Foreigners can own 40% in some businesses but NO RETAIL IS ALLOWED and retail covers everything, even a intenet cafe is legally retail, so you cannot own even 1% of retail. UNLESS HOWEVER you invest $2.5 million US. Export is great to get into here, the government will love you, also setting up a small BPO or call center is good and only costs about $1000 for BPO. Basicly do a business that improves the Philippine economy and you have absolutely no trouble.

I must agree totally with kayb100, we have a big foreigner population here in Naga City which centres on a bar owned by
a British Guy where we all have a few beers, we hear weekly stories of foreigner being fleeced by GF and families
we have already help one bloke(who was pennyless living in the streets) to go home, also foreigner think they can make money in business here, so they invest money but the returns are too small to support them.
My tip to foreigners wanting to live in Phillipines is leave your money invested in your home country and only bring in what you need to live on

I did the same mistake.  Gave a Filipino brother in law money to buy a taxi and he was supposed to give us a regular fee for it.  That was the end of the money, taxi and now I wont let him even see me.
Whatever anybody says, if you as a foreigner ever give a Filipino relation, GF, whoever any money, kiss it goodbye.  That is simply the way.  Most of them are in debt or do not know to handle their money, whatever they get, so your money is gone, period.

Hello there.

This is my second post here (congratulations to me!). It's actually quite similar to my first, so apolgies if you read both. I'm a Brit & i've been here in Philippines 2 months now.

I've been researching doing business here , initially looking at a food cart franchise (just to test the water).

However i'm a little confused about some of the advice that is being given here.

Anyway, from what i gather with many business's there is the 60 Filipino / 40 Foreign investment rule, ok if you have a partner & I have friends here I think i can get one (not a wife!) or two BUT crucially it appears that retail is one of the exceptions where in fact you can't invest unless you have > $2.5m.

Obviously there are foreign run retail business everywhere here, so what gives?

Am i missing something, can i open a retail business with a Filipino partner with < $2,5m?

It is rather confusing & i would really like to get to the bottom of it.



yes is possible are many foreigners do buseness there after depend what kind of buseness want do

As i said 'retail'.

Hello Expatriates,
Wow-these business exchange topic turns into "stay away from Filipina"
I'm pure Filipina and prefer foreigner for a heaps of reason. I know a lil about foreign investors.
My point to be here is "When you indulge yourself to a Filipina"
You must know exactly that every country has their own culture and tradition. You may don't agree with it, but that's the way it is-if you don't like, stay in your country or be alone. Simple
Cultures are:
Filipino are family united
Whoever has wealth in the family, relatives ask for help.
We always help, not just realtives, but friends-this is us!
If you marry a Filipino, then you also marry her tribe.
We have many holidays and celebrations that are costly.

Don't reac just yet..!

God is so good to bless us all we need to communicate, to understand one another even our language is different-there is non-verbal communication to use :-) how amazing.
Now-if you want to marry a Filipina sincerely. You must communicate and make agreement about Family helping matter. Filipina can work to earn as well if you don't want to give away your money to her family. Remember, we are not foreigners that only cares for ourselves-this is in general. I know there are generous people.
If you don't want to trust her with business, then come in Phil-marry each other and you take care of the business with her support.

Stop complaining-speak what plan you have with her.

Lastly, I heard a lot of complaint from my foreign friends that foreign girls seek rich guy, that's why they prefer Asian/Filipina spicifically. And they even call it in many worst names that I don't find it important to mention here.
My point is-People in every countries are the same, there are bad and good.
The thing I love about Philippines is Family unity. I don't mean unity that all tribes beg to a relatives who is in good finacial situation, they do nothing, but just beg, sit and drink. I know it is the reason of poverty in Philippines, but I know that if our government is not corrupt. We'll have a better life, less jobless, because Filipino are hardworking.
Lets broaden our mind first, before we mess up someone :-)
Cheers Expatraites

Good Post Karren I think us foreigner should remember ur Quote"Filipino are family united
Whoever has wealth in the family, relatives ask for help.
We always help, not just realtives, but friends-this is us!
If you marry a Filipino, then you also marry her tribe.
We have many holidays and celebrations that are costly."
the trouble is our culture is not like that, really it is every man for his self with a few exceptions

Nice Message Karren, I have only been here a short time but have already noticed how family orientated you are here. I wish we were the same in the UK. We only really get together on Birthdays and Christmas, end up arguing over money and wanting to keep it all for ourselves. It is very refreshing being here and I am happy to say I have met someone here and the fact I love her means I want her to be happy which means supporting her in any way I can and making her happy in any way I can. If she gets pleasure from seeing her family happy then I am happy also.

We are in your country (And very beautiful it is) and we should abide by your rules and culture.

Enjoy life


Hello -> Maybe we could come back to the initial topic now. ;)

Thank you,



Are you still in Philippines or as I read it you are in USA right?


Your experience with internet cafes sounds interesting , i always think best way to learn is through your own mistakes, but preferable (and less costly) is to learn from others... ;).

I'd be very interested to learn more specifics about internet cafe business & also open to discuss any partnership opportunities with anyone who has "been there & done it", although i must stress I have NO intention of marrying anyone to accomplish this.



Hi Nick
what type of business are you interested in? Is it just internet cafes or are you interested in Billiard/Disco/Karaoke/Resto bar?
I have 25 years of experience in this industry although wet behind the ears as far as the Philippines is concerned. I have a friend that has been here 4 years and started a bar but in a very bad area, it was more of a hobbie for him than a money making plan.

Where are you from originally?



Hehe, i can think of much more pleasant & simpler 'hobbies' than opening a bar! :)

I'm open to looking at anything (legal) in principal, the key i think is finding the right partner(s), as many business are off limits to 100% foreign ownership and getting the right people to run it, so the more 'automated' it is the better. I'm not interested in having to be too hands on.

Bars i've always assumed can be complicated & rife for pilfering, corruption & general hassle? A billiards/snooker/pool place though - maybe that could work if there is a market & it's kept simple.

Also there seems to be a lot of people with vague ideas (i guess i am one of them too), but what would really make a difference is to see some solid numbers.

I have some ideas for outsourcing website development, but not got too far with it so far. I also looked at franchising but restrictions around foreign investment in retail, put the brakes on that one.

I'm from Manchester, England, been in Philippines 4 months, another 2 to go, before i go home for 6 months with plan to return after that.

OK, I am from Essex been here since january 16th. I am staying indefinitely. I have an investor coming out next month that I owned a bar with in Estonia.

You are right to a certain extent about pilfering being rife, well let's say it used to be a lot easier than it is now. Regular stocktakes (Forthnightly) or even weekly can nip any stock thieving in the bud. Unlike a lot of places wait a month to stock take, this is too long and lets the problem grow too big. Nowadays there are many advances in billing systems and stock to sales programs, you probably know more about that than I do, I know how to do basic stuff on my lap top and thats it.

On the other side of the business it is a fun business but only if you are that kind of person. I grew up in billiard halls and bars, I was a snooker coach for 6 years working with a lot of the top people in the sport. Now I prefer pool, smaller tables, bigger pockets, fast turnover of games and a whole more relaxed than the snooker scene.

I owned 2 karaoke bars in Estonia and one in UK including working as a manager in snooker/social clubs. I also worked in radio for 3 years presenting a morning show on Energy FM in Tallinn.

I guess I sound like an alcoholic always in bars but far from it. Although San Miguel at 70p a bottle is hard to tuen down :)But I always managed to get up for the breakfast show.

So what area are you staying in cebu?

Sounds like the pool/billiards thing could be the way to go for you, as it's you're area of expertise. Being a bit of a pro, should also add a good USP. Also not so many of them here after all wheras K bars are 10 a'penny & many seem to be empty half the time.

50 pesos for beer may be a part of the problem too though, not much mark up on that. Always seems to me, best business here are where you can charge tourist prices or have a western customer base

All good food for thought.

I also have some previous experience in radio production, although only in community radio. Can be fun, but also can be a very time consuming.

I'm actually in Manila. I may come to Cebu towards he end of this trip or possibly wait until next time.

om here in nyc but plan to visit Philippines sometime next year,just let me know where do you plan to establish your caffe?Like i said before you must have a trustworthy citizen from there to run the bussiness,all can be done in a legal way,safegaaurding yourself.Location,computers and equipment,supplies are things you want to consider,you could shop around and get a combine sale,even used equipment will do when starting unless you have capital to buy new?or you canb just but a caffe that is already established and is already operational,there could be other factors too,but the best thing is to start it will take some time until you see the income comming in.Go small and slow its best i think.Dont be afraid to test the waters like they say,you have to start somewhere,anyway good dont have to marry,just find a trustworty citizen.Good luck.

Thanks good advice. I think this is the kind of thing you could start small, build up & duplicate. Location being king of course.

I do have friends here i can trust in both Manila & Puerto Princessa, but the main obstacle here is the rule that disallows foreigners investing in retail (and i'm pretty sure this is classed as retail). Not sure if 'retail' covers bars etc either - probably does.

This is where it gets confusing. It's far from straight forward - unless you're married i think?

If anyone has any ideas/solutions to this conundrum i'd be very happy to hear.


I have taken legal advice on this and basically you have 3 options, 4 if you include forgetting about investing here and go back to the daily drudgery of the western world.

You can own 100% of a company here as a sole proprietor, all you have to do is have 250,000 USD in a bank account as security if your business fails and you end up owing the Philippine government Tax, VAT etc.....

Option 2 is to build a consortium of Filipinos and yourself but you cannot own more than 40% of it, reason being again if it fails they can chase the Filipinos that owe the government money.

Option 3 is to say 'I do' at the altar and hope you live happily ever after. Personally this would be my favourite, I mean who wouldn't want to meet someone we truly love and share everything with them, we do it in the UK and if it goes wrong they get 50%, so what's 10%? Surely their manner, culture, weather and in fact their inner warmth is worth that right?

Option 4 is as I said to go back to UK or whever you are from in western civilisation and maybe you will live happily ever after with your piles of money there, I know what I prefer, good luck and let me know if you need a venue for your wedding reception :)

Option 1:

9ballmark :

all you have to do is have 250,000 USD in a bank account as security

Oh is that all? No problem then. ;) I wish! :)

Option 2: This one i get & i'm aware of, however it is still not clear if a foreigner is allowed to own even 40% if it's retail - so much conflicting information.

Anyone here actually done this (with retail) legally?

Option 3: Finding 'true love'? Easier said than done. Never happened to me in my 45+ years, so I probably wouldn't even consider it in the UK & risk losing half my hard earned cash. I wish you the best of luck, if you have found that (or it has found you) though. :)

Option 4: "Surely their manner, culture, weather and in fact their inner warmth is worth that right?" Yes, that's all very nice, if a bit of a rose-tinted generalisation - this country is far from perfect.

I like it here, but for all it's faults i'm proud of where i'm from too & not ready to cut ties with the mother land just yet.

I said to one of my Filipino friends the other day, "you have so much here; family, friendship, community (and weather of course) and she said "yes but you have so much we don't have". Grass is always greener.

The big difference there though about the grass being greener, we have seen both sides, they havent

Exactly. That's why i'm wary of throwing the baby out with the bath water...

hows it going just joined the form ? have you started your business idea yet in the philippines

No, still researching what is possible/practical/profitable.

Morning from Cebu. Radio is one of those things that I think if you get involved with it it's because you love it. I didn't understand these presenters that said it's so much better than TV, but it is, there is something very special about radio. So intimate with the listener, it's almost like you build a relationship with each and every one of them.

Going back to business I was listening to a great success story of the owner of the Mooon cafe chain of Mexican influenced cuisine, this guy started with one, now he has 5 here I believe and now franchises them out. He started 'My play' a childrens play centre, 'Thirsty' the fresh fruit shake carts you see in malls, and more recently I can't remember the name or spell it more to the point but it means 'See' in English. He is Filipino but I just wanted to share that success story :)
How is Manila? I have not heard many good stories about that city

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