Monday, May 16, 2016

Can Foreigners Own Land in the Philippines?


While the prospect of owning land in the Philippines may seem appealing to some foreign nationals, the 1987 Philippine Constitution limits the purchase of real property to certain groups of people. 

According to Article XII Section 7 and 8, no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain. The Supreme Court of the Philippines explains this concept in greater detail in  Borromeo v. Descallar, where it elucidated that only Filipino citizens may own real property in the Philippines. Accordingly, foreign nationals are among those not qualified to acquire or hold such properties.

Philippine law of course provides for certain exceptions to this general rule. For example, foreign nationals are allowed to own land if the same is conveyed to them through hereditary succession. 

Former natural born citizens may also own land but only up to the limits provided for by Republic Act No. 8179 (maximum of 1,000 square meters of urban land or 1 hectare of rural land for residential property), or by Batas Pambansa Blg. 185 (maximum of 5,000 square meters for urban land or 3 hectares of rural land for business property).

For foreign nationals who plan on having an extended stay in the Philippines, Republic Act 4726 allows the foreign purchase and ownership of condominium units/shares, provided that the condominium corporation follows the limits set by law, which is that no more than 40% of the units in a project are acquired by foreign nationals.


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