Can You Buy Property in the Philippines as a Former Filipino Citizen?

July 10, 2024

The Philippines remains a popular destination for former Filipino citizens, also known as natural-born Filipinos, who wish to reconnect with their roots by purchasing property. Despite the complexities of citizenship laws and property ownership, the Philippines provides avenues for natural-born Filipinos to invest in real estate, whether for residential or business purposes.

Understanding Your Rights as a Natural-Born Filipino

Property Ownership Limits

If you have relinquished your Filipino citizenship after migrating to another country, you still retain the right to acquire property in the Philippines under specific conditions. As a natural-born Filipino, you can purchase:

  • Up to 1,000 square meters of residential urban property.
  • Up to 5,000 square meters for business purposes.
  • In rural areas, you can own up to 1 hectare for residential purposes.
  • Up to 3 hectares for business purposes.

Dual Citizenship Benefits

For those who wish to own more property than the aforementioned limits, acquiring dual citizenship can be advantageous. Dual citizenship allows you to regain your Filipino citizenship while retaining your foreign citizenship, thereby enabling you to own property beyond the restricted limits for former Filipino citizens. The advantages include:

  • No restrictions on property size for residential or business purposes.
  • Greater flexibility in property investment and development.

Legal Framework Supporting Property Ownership

Two significant laws facilitate property ownership for natural-born Filipinos:

Batas Pambansa Blg. 185

Enacted in 1982, Batas Pambansa Blg. 185 allows natural-born Filipinos who have lost their Philippine citizenship to acquire a limited area of urban or rural land for residential purposes. This law underscores the Philippine government’s recognition of the inherent connection between natural-born Filipinos and their homeland.

Republic Act No. 8179

Passed in 1996, Republic Act No. 8179 amends the Foreign Investments Act of 1991, further expanding the rights of natural-born Filipinos. This law permits them to acquire land for business purposes, reflecting the country’s commitment to encouraging economic development through investment from its diaspora.

Steps to Acquiring Property

  1. Verify Your Natural-Born Status: Ensure you have the necessary documents proving your status as a natural-born Filipino. This typically includes your birth certificate and other relevant identification.
  2. Determine Your Citizenship Status: Decide if you will reacquire Filipino citizenship through dual citizenship. This step is crucial if you intend to purchase property exceeding the stipulated limits.
  3. Legal Compliance: Consult with a legal expert to navigate the intricacies of property acquisition. Understanding local laws, zoning regulations, and other legal requirements is essential to a smooth transaction.
  4. Property Search: Engage with reputable real estate agents and property developers. Conduct due diligence to ensure the property is free from legal disputes and encumbrances.
  5. Transaction Process: Once you’ve selected a property, the purchase process involves signing a contract, transferring the title, and registering the property with the appropriate government agencies.

Investing in property in the Philippines as a natural-born Filipino offers a meaningful way to stay connected to your heritage. Whether for residential or business purposes, understanding the legal framework and leveraging your rights can help you make informed decisions. With supportive laws like Batas Pambansa Blg. 185 and Republic Act No. 8179, the dream of owning property in your homeland is within reach. Whether you opt for limited property ownership as a former citizen or seek broader opportunities through dual citizenship, the path to property ownership in the Philippines is both feasible and rewarding.