Foreigner’s Guide for Property Buying in the Philippines

Foreigner’s Guide for Property Buying in the Philippines

Can Foreigners Own Real Estate in the Philippines?

The good news is yes, but with restrictions. We will show you in depth, all the specifics you will need to buy a property.

Before we start qualifying, let’s understand first the meaning of real estate.

Real estate is the property, land, buildings, air rights above the land and underground rights below the land.

Four Real Estate Classes:

  1. Residential real estate – incorporates both new development and resale homes. A portion of the cases of the private land is single-family homes, apartment suites, centers, townhouses, duplexes, triple-deckers, quadplexes, high-esteem homes, multi-generational, and vacation homes.
  2. Commercial real estate – includes shopping focuses and strip shopping centers, therapeutic and instructive structures, inns and offices. Condo structures are regularly viewed as the business, despite the fact that they are utilized for living arrangements. That is on account of they are possessed to create salary.
  3. Industrial real estate – incorporates industry in the Philippines like assembling structures and property, and in addition distribution centers. The structures can be utilized for a look into, creation, stockpiling, a dissemination of merchandise. A few structures that appropriate products are viewed as business land.
  4. Land – incorporates empty land, working farms, and farms. The subcategories within vacant arrive include undeveloped, early advancement or reuse, subdivision and site get together.

To understand more about real estate, you can benefit from an outside expert real estate agent or a real estate broker.

Many ask why there are many foreigners who are interested to buy a property in the Philippines. Why? People’s news is it’s because of the many factors like the tropical climate, and great opportunities for investments. Well, that’s true. On the other hand, Filipinos are among the friendliest and beautiful people on earth and the warmth they bring into a community makes you feel that you have never left home. Many foreigners are particularly looking to retire and have chosen to go to the Philippines because of its undeniable hospitality. Although, foreigners are not sure whether they can own property in the Philippines. But the answer is depending on the type of property we are talking about. If we are talking about land or other stand-alone pieces of real estate, then the foreigners cannot own land in the Philippines. But when we talk about properties under a condominium corporation, then they are allowed to buy and own a condominium. This goes not only to natural persons but to legal entities as well, such as corporations. Foreign ownership of property in our country is not absolute and subject to restrictions. 

On the off chance that you are an outsider and as of now living in the Philippines, you should know the principles of property purchasing for nonnatives in the Philippines. On the off chance that you have the arrangement to build up an inhabitant, purchasing a property is an alternative that you may need to genuinely investigate. The territory of Philippine economy fundamentally enhanced, and the broad increment in the business activities of outside nationals in the nation proceed to the flood. The consequence of these exercises is putting resources into Philippine properties might be an elective you might need to take to use on the fantastic income potential your venture can bring.

Before embracing a genuine state venture, let us first very much educated of the distinctive principles covering property possession by nonnatives in the Philippines. You should know about the limitations that may have either respect to property possession by outsiders with the goal that you can’t be liable for any infringement. Make sure additionally that you have the license from the legislature before owning a property.

  According to the law, below are the Real Estate Buying Guide in the Philippines for Foreigners:

Home Buying Guide for Balikbayans

Former natural-born Filipinos who are now naturalized citizens of another country can buy and register, under their own name, land in the Philippines but limited in land area (see below). However, those who avail of the Dual Citizenship Law can buy as much land as any other Filipino citizen.

Under Republic Act 9225 (Dual Citizenship Law of 2003), former Filipinos who became naturalized citizens of foreign countries are deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship, thus enabling them to enjoy all the rights and privileges of a Filipino.

Steps to Gain Dual Citizenship:

  • If you are in the Philippines, file a “Petition for Dual Citizenship and Issuance of Identification Certificate (IC) pursuant to RA 9225” at the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and for the cancellation of your alien certificate of registration.
  • Those who are not BI registered and overseas should file the petition at the nearest embassy or consulate.

Below are the requirements:     

  • Birth certificate authenticated by the National Statistics Office (birth certificate from the NSO can be requested online and mailed to you)
  • Accomplish and submit a “Petition for Citizenship and Issuance of Identification Certificate (IC) pursuant to RA 9225” to a Philippine embassy, consulate or the Bureau of Immigration.
  • Pay a $50.00 processing fee, schedule and take an “Oath of Allegiance” before a consular officer.
  • The Bureau of Immigration in Manila receives the petition from the embassy or consular office. The BI issues and sends an Identification Certificate of citizenship to the embassy or consular office.
  • If a former Filipino who is now a naturalized citizen of a foreign country does not want to avail of the Dual Citizen Law, he or she can still acquire land based on BP (Batas Pambansa) 185 & RA (Republic Act) 8179 but limited to the following:

For Residential Use (BP 185 – enacted in March 1982):

  • Up to 1,000 square meters of residential land.
  • Up to one (1) hectare of agricultural farmland.

For Business / Commercial Use (RA 8179 – amended the Foreign Investment act of 1991):

  • Up to 5,000 square meters of urban land.
  • Up to three (3) hectares of rural land.


As an exception to the general rule, alien acquisition of real estate in the Philippines is allowed in the following cases:

a. Acquisition before the 1935 Constitution;
b. Acquisition thru hereditary succession. If foreign acquiree is a legal heir;

This simply means that when the non-Filipino is married to a Filipino citizen and the spouse dies, the non-Filipino as the natural heir will become the legal owner of the property. The same is true for the children. Every natural child (legitimate or illegitimate) can inherit the property of his/her Filipino father/mother even if he/she does not have any Filipino citizenship.

c. Purchase of not more than 40% interest in a condominium project;
d. Purchase by a former natural-born Filipino citizen subject to the limitations prescribed by Law (Batas Pambansa 185 and R.A. 8179)


Foreigners cannot own land in the Philippines.

For those foreigners that are married to a Filipino/Filipina who wants to acquire land in the Philippines usually, have their Filipino spouse purchase the land instead. The title cannot be placed in the name of the foreigner but can be placed in the name of their Filipino spouse. 


Only Filipino citizens and corporations or partnerships that are at least 60% Filipino-owned are allowed to buy land in the Philippines. 


Aliens can acquire land in the Philippines only on a few exceptions: 1) Acquisition before the 1935 constitution. 2) Acquisition thru hereditary succession -if the foreigner is a legal heir. 4) Purchase of not more than 40% interest as a whole in a condominium project. 4) Purchase by a former natural-born Filipino citizen who acquired foreign citizenship & has not applied and granted dual citizenship can purchase up to 1,000 square meters of residential land and 1 hectare of agricultural or farm land.


Foreigners can buy a condominium unit built on the Philippine soil and have the title in his name.


The land on which a condominium building stands is always owned by a condominium corporation. When a person buys a condominium unit, he automatically becomes a stockholder in the corporation which owns the land. Condominium Act of the Philippines R.A. 4726. expressly allows foreigners to acquire condominium unit and shares condominium corporations. Those who claim that foreigners can own a house & lot in the Philippines have a condominium title to their property. They are allowed to become stockholders of a corporation which own land but only up to a maximum of forty percent (40%) of the shares of the corporation. Foreigners, therefore, are allowed to own condominium units provided the total floor area owned by all foreigners in the condominium building does not exceed forty percent (40%).


A foreigner who is legal or natural heir may acquire property through hereditary succession.


If a foreigner was married to a Filipino spouse and when she or he dies, the foreigner as natural heir will inherit the deceased spouse property. The foreigner shall be given a reasonable amount of time to dispose of the property and collect the proceeds. Otherwise, the property will be passed to any Filipino heirs and/or relatives.


Purchased of property by natural-born Filipinos who have already acquired foreign citizenship shall be subject to the limitations prescribed by the law.


Section 2, Article XII, 1987 Constitution states that ownership of lands in the Philippines is reserved for Filipinos only. As an exception from the statement of Section 7, Article XII, 1987 Constitution that foreigners shall be allowed to acquire private lands in cases of hereditary succession.  A different rule, however, shall be observed in case of a former natural-born Filipino who became a citizen of other countries. Section 8, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution allows such citizens to be a transferee of private lands, subject to limitations provided by law. Such that limitation is provided in Section 5 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8179, to wit:

Section 5. The Foreign Investments Act is further amended by inserting a new section designated as Section 10 to read as follows:

“Section 10. Other Rights of Natural Born Citizen Pursuant to the provisions of Article XII, Section 8 of the Constitution. – Any natural born citizen who has the legal capacity to enter into a contract under the Philippine laws may be a transferee of a private land up to a maximum area of five thousand (5,000) square meters in the case of urban land or three (3) hectares in the case of rural land to be used by him for business or other purposes. In the case of married couples, one of them may avail of the privilege herein granted: provided, that if both shall avail of the same, the total area acquired shall not exceed the maximum herein fixed”.

“In case the transferee already owns urban or rural land for business or other purposes, he shall still be entitled to be a transferee of additional urban or rural land for business or other purposes which when added to those already owned by him shall not exceed the maximum areas herein authorized”.

“A transferee under this Act may acquire not more than two (2) lots which should be situated in different municipalities or cities anywhere in the Philippines: provided that the total land area thereof shall not exceed five thousand (5,000) square meters in the case of urban land or  three (3) hectares in the case of rural land for use by him for business or other purposes. A transferee who has already acquired urban land shall be disqualified from acquiring rural land and vice versa”.

Even if you are already a non-Filipino citizen, you may still be able to buy lands in the Philippines subject to the aforementioned limitations. The important is you are a non-Filipino citizen but still a natural-born Filipino citizen. For this purpose, a natural born citizen refers to a person who is a citizen of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect his/her Philippine citizenship. A person who was born before January 17, 1973, of a Filipino mother and who elected Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority shall also be considered a natural born citizen (Section 2, Article IV, 1987 Constitution).


Filipinos who are married to foreigners and who retain their Filipino citizenship are allowed to own land in the Philippines.

adults-agreement-american-870901 (1)

For those Filipinos who married a foreigner, Philippine citizenship is not automatically relinquished. Article IV Section 4 of the Philippine Constitution states that “Citizens of the Philippines who marry aliens shall retain their citizenship, unless, by their act or omission, they are deemed, under the law, to have renounced it.” An example of renouncing Philippine citizenship is when a spouse would swear allegiance to become a citizen of the spouse’s country. A Filipino/Filipina who married a foreigner can buy and own land in the Philippines for as long as they have not renounced said citizenship. They may acquire and own land without restrictions since they are deemed to have retained their citizenship.


Foreigners or foreign corporations are allowed to lease land in the Philippines on a long-term basis.


Based on the Investor’s Lease Act of the Philippines, a foreigner or a foreign corporation with more than 40% foreign ownership can lease land in a long-term contract that is good for 50 years and after which, the rent is renewable every 25 years. So far, new President Rodrigo Duterte has said that he will not allow a change in the constitutional limit on individual foreign land ownership, but he has proposed to extend foreign ownership of corporations from the current 40 per cent-limit to up to 70 percent.


Foreigners can own houses or buildings as long as the land on which the house or building is built is not owned by the foreigner.

A foreigner or a foreign company can only lease land and then legally own the house purchased or built on the rented land but cannot own land where the structures are built on. 

For foreigners or expat considering the acquisition of property in the Philippines, now is your time to do it so as to take an advantage of the excellent investment opportunity that the country has offered. This will serve you best so that you should be aware of the various Government’s laws in the Philippines for property ownership by foreigners to ensure that any real estate transaction you get into is legitimate and will not pose any legal problems for you later on. We are advising you to undertake due diligence and consult with property specialists and/or legal counsel if necessary before you will proceed with a particular real estate transaction in order to protect your investments.

If you decide to stay permanently in the Philippines or if you frequent to stay for a long period in the Philippines, avail the government’s Special Resident Retirement Visa (SRRV).

Special Resident Retirement Visa (SRRV) is a privilege granted to foreigners who wish to stay on a long-term basis or permanently in the Philippines. For investing in the Philippines, foreigners can enter and leave the country as many times and as long as the wanted to. If you have a Special Resident Visa, a holder can live, do business, and can study in the Philippines indefinitely.

Retiring in the Philippines:

Requirements for Special Resident Retirement Visa  

Principal Applicant:

  • Application Form
  • Passport with valid entry to the Philippines
  • National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Clearance or Police Clearance (to be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy)
  • Medical Clearance (if the applicant is abroad, this clearance must be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy)
  • 6 pieces 6″ x 6″ pictures
  • 6 pieces 1″ x 1″ pictures
  • Bank Certification from an accredited bank of the Philippine Retirement Authority of bank deposit (US$ 50,000 for 50 years old & above, $75,000 for 35 to 49 years)
  • Processing fee: US$ 1,500

Spouse / Dependent:

  • Application Form
  • Passport with valid entry to the Philippines
  • NBI Clearance or Police Clearance (to be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy for 18 years old and above)
  • Medical Clearance (if the applicant is abroad, this clearance must be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy)
  • 6 pieces 6″ x 6″ pictures
  • 6 pieces 1″ x 1″ pictures
  • Marriage Certificate (authenticated by the Philippine Embassy) for a spouse.
  • Birth Certificate (authenticated by the Philippine Embassy) for dependents.
  • In Lieu of Marriage or Birth Certificates:
    • Family Register (for Koreans)
    • Household Register (for Taiwanese)
    • Certificate of Relationship (for P.R.O.C.)
  • Fees:
    • A service fee of $300 each for spouse or dependent (up to 3 dependents)
    • For families with more than 3 dependents, additional $ 15,000/dependent
  • Immigration conversion fee:
    • Php: 7,600 for spouse and children 16 to 20 years old.
    • Php: 7,350 for children 14 to 15 years old.
    • Php: 6,850 for children 13 years old and below
    • PLRA ID card ($10) for spouse and/or dependent
    • Immigration express fee of Php 500 per person (elective)

Note: The required investment money (US$ 50,000 for 50 years old & above, $75,000 for 35 to 49 years) to avail of the Special Resident Retirement Visa (SRRA) must be deposited in a bank accredited by the Philippine Retirement Authority. This deposit can be withdrawn after 6 months but must be invested in the Philippines. It can be used to buy properties (condominiums) stocks, securities, etc.


Must Read Other Real Estate Websites:

11 Tips for Foreigners: How to Own Property in the Philippines

Foreigners’ guide in buying real estate in the Philippines

Real Estate Buying Guide in the Philippines for Foreigners

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts


Enter your keyword