Ask the Pros: Can Filipinos with Foreign Citizenship Still Own Real Estate Properties in the Philippines?
While foreign nationals are not allowed to own real properties in the Philippines, there are exceptions and limitations to be kept in mind
We’re sure you or someone you know has relatives who are based abroad and already hold foreign citizenship. If this is the case, can these Filipinos still own real properties in the Philippines?
According to lawyers, as a general rule, Philippine laws do not allow foreign nationals from owning real properties in the Philippines. However, there are exceptions and limitations. Atty. Steffi Banaag, a practicing lawyer for seven years, discusses these below. From how much land can be owned to rules that apply to married couples, she shares general information that you need to know.
Can foreign nationals own private lands in the Philippines?
If you were a former Filipino citizen who acquired foreign citizenship, you can still own real properties. Under Section 8, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, a natural-born citizen of the Philippines who has lost his Philippine citizenship may be a transferee of private lands, subject to limitations provided by law.
These limitations are prescribed by Batas Pambansa 185, which governs private land for residential use, and ii) Republic Act No. RA 7042, as amended by RA 8179, governs private land for business use.
For residential use:
Section 2 of BP 185, any natural-born citizen of the Philippines who has lost his Philippine citizenship may be a transferee of private land up to a maximum area of 1000sqm for urban land or 1 hectare for rural land. However, this may only be used as RESIDENCE.
For married couples, one of them may avail of the privilege granted under BP 125. If both of them shall avail of this, the total area that they will acquire should not exceed the maximum area specified above.
Meanwhile, a transferee can only acquire not more than 2 lots situated in different municipalities or cities anywhere in the Philippines, as long as the total area of both does not exceed the maximum area provided for urban and rural areas, respectively.
Remember, he or she cannot acquire both rural and urban land. As specified under Section 2, “a transferee who has already acquired urban land shall be disqualified from acquiring rural land, and vice versa.”
For commercial or business use:
Section 10 of Foreign Investments Act RA 7042, as amended by RA 8179, provides that any natural-born citizen of the Philippines who has lost his Philippine citizenship may be a transferee of private land up to a maximum area of 5000sqm for urban land, or 3 hectares for rural land, for business and other purposes. Land purchased as an investment may be used for various business activities, except the buying and selling of the said land.
For married couples, one of them may avail of the privilege granted under RA 7042, as amended by RA 8179. However, if both of them shall avail, the total area they will acquire should not exceed the maximum area provided.
On the other hand, a transferee can only acquire not more than 2 lots situated in different municipalities or cities anywhere in the Philippines, as long as the total area of both does not exceed the maximum area provided for urban and rural areas, respectively. He or she cannot acquire both rural and urban land as well.
Can foreign nationals buy and own condo units in the Philippines?
Many Filipinos invest in condominium units for a variety of reasons. Some use it as a vacation home and some want to turn it into a retirement home.
Even if you’re already considered a foreign national, you can still buy condominiums units in Philippine condominiums (shares in condominium corporations) as long as not more than 40% of the units in a project are acquired by foreigners, as provided under Republic Act No. 4726, otherwise known as the Condominium Act.
Can a foreign national re-acquire his or her Filipino citizenship to enjoy the rights of a natural-born Filipino?
Even if you lost your Filipino citizenship upon acquiring a foreign one, you can still re-acquire your Filipino citizenship to become a dual citizen.
By re-acquiring your Filipino citizenship and becoming a dual citizen, all the civil and political rights you previously possessed as a natural-born Filipino will be reinstated. RA 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003 provides that “those who retain or re-acquire Philippine citizenship under this Act shall enjoy full civil and political rights” as any other Filipino citizen.
In this scenario, you can once again own real properties in the Philippines without being limited by BP 185 and RA 7042 (as amended by RA 8179)
Are you a dual citizen or a foreign national looking to re-acquire your Filipino citizenship? If you have specific questions, it’s best to get in touch with a lawyer for advice and consultation. The information shared in this article is for general knowledge only.
Special thanks to Attorneys Nikki Cortina, Steffi Banaag, Mhealler Ycong, Aila May Alvarez, and Christopher Linag.
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