Foreign Ownership of Land in the Philippines

Ownership of land in the Philippines is highly-regulated with land ownership reserved for persons or entities considered Philippine nationals or Filipino citizens. For this purpose, a corporation owned 60% by Filipino citizens is treated as a Philippine national. Foreigners interested in acquiring land or real property through aggressive ownership structures must consider the provisions of the Philippines’ Anti-Dummy Law to determine how to proceed. A major restriction in the law is the restriction on the number of alien members on the Board of Directors of a landholding company which is limited to 40% alien participation. Another concern is the possible forfeiture of the property if the provisions of the law is breached.

Exceptions to the restriction on foreigners acquisition of land in the Philippines are the following:

  • Acquisition before the 1935 constitution
  • Acquisition through hereditary succession if the foreigner is a legal or natural heir
  • Purchase of not more than 40% interest in a condominium project
  • Purchase by a former natural-born Filipino citizen subject to the limitations prescribed by law. (natural born Filipinos who acquired foreign citizenship is entitled to own up to 1,000 sq.m. of residential land, and 1 hectare of agricultural or farm land)
  • Filipinos who are married to aliens who retain their Filipino citizenship, unless by their act or omission they have renounced their Filipino citizenship

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