Can a Foreigner Buy Property in the Philippines?

The love of the Filipinos and large investing opportunities are making foreigners more and more interested in buying property in the Philippines. Many individuals are still uncertain if foreigners in the country can own property. Outsiders can own property in the Philippines, but cannot buy land. Foreign ownership is not absolute and is subject to the limitation of property in the Philippines.

Non-Filipinos are allowed to own housing units developed on Philippine soil. Because a condominium project is akin to a corporation set up where 60 percent must be owned by Filipinos, foreigners are still restricted from owning 40 percent of the units. Although the laws make it plain that foreigners are not permitted to acquire land and that their ownership of other types of real estate is restricted, these prohibitions are susceptible to several exceptions.

Under the following criteria, foreigners may acquire and purchase real estate property in the Philippines:

  • Under the 1935 Constitution, the property was acquired.
  • Hereditary succession is a method of acquiring real estate.
  • This signifies that a person inherited property or land that was obtained under the Philippine Constitution.
  • A condominium project’s units cannot make up more than 40% of the total.
  • If the property was purchased when the owner was still a natural-born Filipino citizen but was subject to legal restrictions.
  • Former natural-born citizens will be limited to 1,000 square meters of urban land and 1,000 square meters of rural land. It must not be more than 1 hectare and be utilized solely for residential purposes.

Filipino citizenship is not automatically revoked when a Filipino marries a foreigner. Citizens of the Philippines who marry foreigners keep their citizenship unless they do so by act or omission, according to the Philippine Constitution. When a spouse swears allegiance to become a citizen of the spouse’s nation, this is an example of surrendering Philippine citizenship. Anyone can buy and own land in the Philippines, even if they are married to a foreigner, as long as they have not renounced their citizenship. Because they are considered to have retained their citizenship, they are free to acquire and hold land.

Filipinos who have lost their Philippine citizenship to another country as a result of naturalization may reclaim it by declaring allegiance to the Philippines. They are once again deemed citizens and may acquire real estate without restriction after regaining Philippine citizenship. Foreigners may possess houses or buildings, but not the land on which they are constructed. Land in the Philippines can only be leased, not owned, by a foreign individual or corporation. Such a lease must be for a long period, at least 50 years, with the rent renewable every 25 years after that.

The question of whether Philippine laws should be amended to allow and expand foreign ownership in the country has long been debated. The majority of proponents of the idea argue that removing limits on foreign ownership will eventually result in more international investment. Those opposed to it would argue that foreign investor business initiatives are not dependent on property ownership.