Foreigners buying Philippine Property

 According to the Constitution, as a general rule; Only Filipinos can own Philippine lands.

In this context, who are the Filipinos anyways?

1. A juridical person acknowledged by Philippine laws.

2. A natural person whose parent is a Filipino.

3. A natural person who was born in the Philippines.

4. Or a natural person who was given Filipino citizenship by Philippine law.

Foreign ownership Philippine Property

Can non-Filipinos own Philippine Properties?

As the saying goes…”If there’s a will, there’s a way!”


Here are ways for foreigners to own Philippine properties:

1. If your grandparents or if you are older than my grandparents, bought a certain Philippine property before 1935 Constitution, then you can own the land even as a foreigner.

2. If you’re a foreigner but you found out that you had Filipino roots, and one of your grandparents died without any heir aside from you, and left you Philippine property for inheritance, then you can own that Philippine land even if you’re a foreigner.

3. If you are a foreigner married to a Filipino who owns Philippine property, and your Filipino spouse died without any child or relative or any possible Filipino heir, then you as a spouse would be the only heir to the inherited property, you can own the land even if you are a foreigner.

4. Foreigners can be part owners of a Philippine Corporation as long as 60% of the so-called “registered” equities belong to Filipinos, and 40% can be owned by foreigners. Philippine registered corporations, can own lands as Filipino juridical personalities, just like any natural Filipino could.

Definition of terms:

Juridical Person – these are “invisible persons” that exist as legal personalities or entities acknowledged by law, such as Corporations, Partnerships, Foundations, Cooperatives, Agencies, etc.
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Natural Person – a human being.

ownership of philippine property by foreigner








Filipinos natural or juridical persons can own Philippine lands. Therefore, a foreigner can be part of a juridical personality that can own Philippine lands!


5. A foreigner can own a condominium unit with 100% Freehold ownership of his own Unit of Condominium Space with the Certificate of Condominium title in the foreigners’ name, as long as 60% of the whole condominium project are owned by Filipinos, natural or juridical persons.

Now there are 2 types of Condominium units:


That look like these —> VERTICAL CONDOMINIUMS

Vertical condominiums are multi-storey buildings, skyscrapers, towers, etc.



and there are the…


Which look like these —> HORIZONTAL CONDOMINIUMS


Horizontal Condominiums basically look like regular house and lot; some maybe duplex types, or townhouses, or rowhouses.


6. Can a foreigner own a regular house erected on land in the Philippines ?

foreigner purchase philippines property

Yes! A foreigner can have the title to own the house, but not the title to own the land. Nevertheless a foreigner can enter into a long-term Leasehold agreement for as long as 75years for the land. That’s like buying the “rights to occupy the land as temporary owner” at one-time, for as long as 75years. Heck! I’m not sure if I’d still be alive after 75years!


7. In the Philippines, the law states that, a couple married after the family Code is enacted with is July 6, 1987, without any  “pre-nuptial agreement” that separates the properties of the spouses, then the default status of their properties would be under “ABSOLUTE COMMUNITY OF PROPERTIES”. This means all the properties of the husband and the wife shall be considered as one. Everything the spouses own, including jewelleries, cars, and real estate, etc. shall be considered part of one whole estate, owned by both spouses.

What does this mean for a foreigner married to a Filipino?   property philippines foreign ownership

Again, the highest law in the Philippines is the Constitution, and it states that only Filipinos can own Philippine lands. Therefore, even if there is a law on Absolute Community of Property, in the case of a Foreigner married to a Filipino, the highest law of the land will still be enforced, hence the foreigner still cannot have the title to own Philippine land.

It shall be noted that when there’s a couple who bought Philippine Property, one is a Filipino and the other spouse is a foreigner, the title reads “REGISTERED OWNER: Name of the Filpino married to Name of the Foreigner”. Even if the name of the foreigner is inscripted in the Certificate of Title, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the foreigner is automatically part-owner of that Philippine land. It only says that the registered owner is a Filipino whose name is ______________ is married to a person who happens to be a foreigner whose name is ______________. In this case, the Filipino would be the sole owner of that property, given that the spouse is a foreigner.

On the other hand, in the spirit of the LAW ON ABSOLUTE COMMUNITY OF PROPERTIES, a foreigner spouse married to a Filipino, can enjoy the rights as co-owner to the “FRUITS” of the property.

When we say “FRUITS” of the property, legally they mean the “benefits” that the said property brings. It could be enjoyment, rental income, shelter, harvest, beauty, proceeds from selling the property, mortgage, joint-venture, exchange, etc.

A foreigner spouse married to a Filipino can enjoy the FRUITS of the property as a co-owner of their ABSOLUTE COMMUNITY OF PROPERTIES as long as they stay harmoniously and lovingly together. Should the foreigner part ways with the Filipino spouse, this enjoyment of the FRUITS of the Property can be legally taken away from the foreigner simply because the foreigner does not own the Philippine land.


8. Can a natural born Filipino who lost his Philippine citizenship and became a citizen of another country own Philippine land?

Yes, but with limitations provided by law. By definition, a person born in the Philippines is still a Filipino even if he/she loses Filipino citizenship by becoming citizen of another country.

A natural born Filipino and now a citizen of another country can own:

According to Batas Pambansa (national law) 185…

A natural born Filipino citizen born in the Philippines and lost his/her Filipino citizenship and became citizen of another country can own Philippine land FOR RESIDENTIAL PURPOSES ONLY.

FOR URBAN CITIES – not more than 1000square meters of land.


FOR RURAL AREAS – not more than 1hectare of land.

As emphasis: it is mentioned “OR” and not “And” which means if a former Filipino already owns 1000sqm of land in an urban city, the foreigner can nolonger own another 1hectare of rural land, and vice-versa.


A former Filipino Citizen can own ONE (1) residential property, either in the city which shall not exceed 1000sqm area, or in the rural areas which shall not exceed 1hectare of land area.


Former Filipino Citizens can own Philippine lands FOR BUSINESS/LIVELIHOOD PURPOSES according to Republic Act 8179…

      “SEC. 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 lost his Philippine citizenship and who has the legal capacity to enter into a contract under 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 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 form acquiring rural land and vice versa.”


In this law it states that a former Filipino Citizens:

– can own TWO (2) properties for business/livelihood purposes, which should be located in two different cities or provinces.

– can own two properties for business/livelihood purposes, located in different urban cities, the combined land area of those two urban lands shall not exceed FIVE THOUSAND (5,000) SQUARE METERS.

– or can own two properties for business/livelihood purposes, located in different rural provinces, the combined land area of those two rural lands shall not exceed THREE (3) HECTARES.

– cannot own rural land if he/she already owns even only 1 urban land for business/livelihood purposes.

– cannot own urban land if he/she already owns even only 1 rural land for business/livelihood purposes.


9. Can a Filipino who lost Filipino citizenship and became a citizen of another country, then regained Filipino Citizenship as a “dual-citizen” own Philippine properties?

Yes! According to Republic Act 9225, a Filipino citizen who is also a citizen of another country is basically a Filipino and can own Philippine properties just like any other Filipino personalities, natural or juridical.


10. Are there other ways for foreigners to purchase Philippine properties?









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real estate board prc


Gary Louis David

Real Estate Broker License No. 0003469

VP for Marketing KingDavid Realty Co.


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