Those who have become citizens of their adopted country but who want to purchase house and lots in the Philippines in preparation for their retirement years are confronted with the question of whether they can still own real property in the Philippines. Below is a primer that tackles the common questions on the issue.
- Q1: If I was a natural-born Filipino citizen but have become a naturalized American citizen. Am I still allowed to own land in the Philippines?
A: Yes. Any natural-born Filipino citizen who lost his citizenship may still won private land in the Philippines up to a maximum of 5,000 square meters in the case of rural land. In the case of married couples, the total area that both couples are allowed to purchase should not exceed the maximum area mentioned above.
- Q2: Can I purchase several lots located in different cities and municipalities if the total area of all lots does not exceed 5,000 square meters of urban land or three hectares of rural land?
A2: a former natural-born Filipino citizen can acquire not more than two lots situated in different municipalities or cities and the total area of the two lots should not exceed 5,000 square meters of urban land or three hectares of rural land.
- Q3: If I am allowed to own a maximum of two lots situated in different municipalities or cities, can I own a 5,000 square-meter urban lot in Quezon city and three hectares of rural land and vice versa.
A3: No. a former natural-born Filipino citizen who has already acquired urban land shall be disqualified from acquiring rural land and vice versa.
- Q4: Is there a way for former natural born Filipino citizen to own more than 5,000 square meters of urban land or three hectares of rural land?
A4: Yes. If a former natural-born Filipino citizen reacquires Filipino citizenship law, he can acquire land without area limit
- Q5: When my children where born, I was already an American citizen. Can they inherit my land in the Philippines?
A5: Yes. Foreign nationals (even if they weren’t former natural-born Filipino citizens) can own a land in the Philippines if they acquire it by inheritance. These nationals should however inherit the property by intestate succession. (It means that the foreign national inherits the property because he/she is an heir under Philippine law. Naming one’s heir by executing a “last will and testament” or a “living will” will not work to validly transfer real property in the Philippines to a foreign national.)
- Q6: My husband is a natural-born American citizen. Can he buy a condominium unit in the Philippines and have the title in his name?
A6: Yes. The land on which a condominium building stands is always owned by a condominium corporation. When a person buys a condominium unit, he automatically becomes a stock-holder in the corporation which owns the land. Under Philippine law, foreigners are allowed to become stockholders of a corporation which own land but only up to a maximum of 40% of the shares of the corporation. Foreigners, therefore, are allowed to own condominium units provided the total floor area owned by all foreigners in the condominium building does not exceed 40%
Filipinos living abroad are usually confronted with the question of whether their children are considered Filipino citizens. The question is engendered in the minds of expatriate Filipinos because any of the following circumstances obtain;
Their child was born outside of the Philippines;
Their child was born with foreign parent and one Filipino parent; and
Their child is already considered citizens of the foreign country where they reside.
Below is a primer on issues about Philippine citizenship relevant to Filipino expats with children born outside of the Philippines.
- Q7: Is Philippine citizenship acquired by blood or by country of birth?
A7: Philippine Citizenship is acquired by blood. A child is deemed a Filipino citizen because at least one of his parents was a Filipino citizen at the time of his birth. Even if the child was outside the Philippines, for as long as at least one of his parents was Filipino Citizen. On the other hand, if both parents are non-Filipinos, the child is not a Filipino citizen even if he was born in the Philippines.
- Q8: What are the conditions that should be met for my child to be deemed a Filipino citizen?
A8: your child is a Filipino citizen if he:
Was born after January 17, 1973 with a Filipino father or a Filipino mother. On other words, if a child was born after January 17, 1973, he is a Filipino citizen if he has at least one parent who is a Filipino citizen at the time of his birth;
Was born before January 17, 1973, with a Filipino mother and your child elected Philippine citizenship when he reached his 21st birthday. If your child was born before January 17, 1973, with a Filipino father, he is a Filipino citizen without the need of electing Filipino Citizen ship upon reaching the age of 21.
- Q9: Our son was born in the US at the time when my wife and I were still Filipino citizens. One week after our son’s birth, however my wife and I took oath as US citizens. Did our son lose his Philippine citizenship when we became American citizens?
A9: No. the child was vested with the Philippine citizenship at the time of his birth. He doesn’t lose his Philippine citizenship even if the parents acquire foreign citizenship after his birth
- Q10: My daughter was born in the US at the time when my wife and I were still Filipino citizens. My daughter has been using a US passport for 20 years. She has never visited the Philippines. Is my daughter considered a Philippine citizen even if she is already an American citizen
A10: Yes. Philippine law allows dual citizenship. A child can both be an American citizen and a Filipino citizen at the same time. Under present laws, a person loses his Philippine citizenship if he renounces it.
- Q11: If my child is born in the US at the time my wife and I are still Filipino citizens, what should we do to document his Philippine citizenship?
A11: a copy of the child’s birth certificate should be submitted to the nearest Philippine consulate will transmit the birth certificate to the National Statistics Office in the Philippines for registration purposes.
- Q12: If a child is born in the Us at the time when his parents are still Filipino citizens, can he later on run for President of the Republic of the Philippines?
A12: Yes, the child is a natural-born Filipino citizen. Only natural-born Filipino citizens can become president, Vice President, Senator, congressman and other proposition in constitutional bodies.