How to live and stay in the Philippines?


Orientation on living in the Philippines

How to orient yourself with the islands of the Philippines?

  • The Philippines consists of 7.107 islands, of which only a part is inhabited. The total amount of islands is ever changing, depending on the tides.
  • Whilst orientating on living and working in the Philippines you should be careful with using generalisations. It is important to mention that in the Philippine Choice Indexes you will find are simplifications of the diverse reality that is the Philippines.

How many foreigners are living in the Philippines?

  • Around 180.000 foreigners are living in the Philippines, students and tourists are excluded.
  • The largest percentage of foreigners is from the United States.
  • The Philippines is also a popular destination for people from China, Japan, India and Canada.

What important factors help you in choosing for a long stay or emigration to the Philippines?

Why choose the Philippines?

  • In most parts of the Philippines the people are able to speak English. An English speaking local population makes life easier.
  • The Filipino hospitality provides foreigners with a warm welcome and stay.
  • Convenient visa arrangements, where people above 50 are eligible for the Special Residents Retirees Visa (SRRV) of the Philippine Retirement Authorities (PRA) Program.
  • Diversity of the country; with many pristine nature locations.
  • Affordable living.
  • Nearby other easy to reach vacation destinations (For example: Japan, Korea, Hong Kong). It is very affordable to do a city trip on the weekends in one of these countries.

"The best thing about the Philippines is the people. I have never encountered a more optimistic group in all of my life. They help one another when they are in trouble. Families are close. For the most part, the people are not driven by what brands they wear or type of car they drive".

Philippines expat

Factors to not consider living in the Philippines

  • You need a lot of time and patience to get around and to arrange things.
  • Communication is tentatively indirect and with a smile, which can be difficult at times when challenges arise.
  • The temperatures can get really high, in the dry season it can rise up to over 40 degrees Celsius.
  • There is a rainy season with typhoons, during these times it rains a lot and flooding can occur.
  • When residing in Metro Manila, you will have to deal with a lot of traffic (jams).

How do you form an image of the Philippines as a destination for living and working?

Tips for reading

  • Culture Shock! Philippines (Culture Shock! A Survival Guide to Customs & Etiquette) written by Alfredo Roces. The book gives a good explanation of the culture shock and what to expect when living in the Philippines.
  • Handbook Philippines written by Niklas Reese and Rainer Werning. This book gives a good oversight of the history and influences on the contemporary Filipino culture.

Tips for watching

  • To get a broader idea of the Filipino life, we recommend watching the BBC documentary: Toughest place to be... (a jeepney driver). An inspiring story about the everyday life of a jeepney driver in Metro Manila.

Orientation on working in the Philippines

How can you orient yourself to work and/or start a business in the Philippines?

  • Salary wise it is advisable to work as an expat in the Philippines, instead of working for under a local contract for a (local) company. The minimum wage in the Philippines in Metro Manila is around 600 php per day, around 13.000 php per month. Office jobs (white collar jobs) pay around 30.000 php per month and managerial functions can pay double or even more.
  • You are required to have a Non-Immigrant Visa for pre-arranged Employment when working in the Philippines. In that case the employer should get the work permit and help you with your Visa Application. 

What are sectors to consider when searching for a job in the Philippines?

  • Nowadays, there are many job opportunities in the Philippines for foreigners, for example in call center industry or the import/export sector.
  • New businesses that are established in those sectors are looking to hire international expats.
  • With this, the demand for bilingual employees is on the rise.
  • The Netherlands is an important trading partner for the Philippines: The Netherlands is a very important (a lot of recent years "the first") export destination for the Philippines in Europe. If you have sufficient knowledge of European & Dutch markets, your job search position will improve!
  • Officially, more than 100 Dutch companies are being represented in the Philippines; probably a lot more via informal ways. Yearly, more and more Dutch companies make plans to start investing in the Philippines.

How is professional recognition and diploma legalisation arranged in the Philippines?

  • Attained professional certifications and diplomas are not automatically valid in the Philippines.
  • Certain professions for example in the fields of nursing and medicine require specific certification by local authorities.
  • Employers may require original or notarized copies of diplomas. Always bring these with you when you travel to the Philippines for work.
  • The application for a work visa and other legal documents is made easier when you bring your official documents and diplomas. A copy or scan will not suffice in most cases.

What are good sources for finding job vacancies in the Philippines?

  • When looking for jobs in the Philippines it is advised to use your personal or other networks (ask around), as it is the easiest and most reliable way to find a job.

What are important factors to consider when applying in the Philippines?

  • Applying for a job is considered a very formal occasion in the Philippines.
  • Looks are important, so always make sure you look professional when going in for an interview.
  • Having a good network is very important as well. Using connections is usually the best way to get an invitation or interview when applying to jobs.
  • If you are looking for a new job, inform as many of your friends, acquaintances, and colleagues of whom you'd think could help with your search for a job in the Philippines.
  • Make sure the employer will take care of- or at least help with your work visa application. Be wary of companies that insist it is your responsibility to take care of the work visa; it is practically impossible to attain a work visa all by yourself.
  • As commuting can be problematic -especially in metro Manila and Cebu- make sure to take the office's location into consideration when applying for jobs.

What are specific CV requirements when applying for jobs in the Philippines?

  • When submitting your CV make sure that all information can be verified. Employers in the Philippines have the tendency to rigorously verify diplomas and references.
  • When submitting a resume the outlook should be professional, make sure your ID-picture is professional as well (a tie is required).
  • Follow international standards in regards to writing your CV, these apply to the Philippine setting as well.

Orientation on starting a business or doing business in the Philippines 

What are sectors to consider when starting a business in the Philippines?

  • Economic prospects are looking good for the Philippines; forecasts show that the Philippine economy eventually will become bigger than their neighbours; Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.
  • Macro-economic fundamentals are becoming stronger and stronger and the Philippines' business environment is being improved constantly to increase the country's competitiveness.
  • Still; the inequitable distribution of wealth and the low level of social development of large parts of the population are continuous matters of concern.
  • Opportunities abound for investors targeting the following sectors: business process outsourcing, electronics, agriculture, renewable energy, infrastructure, and shipbuilding.

What are important factors to consider for start-ups in the Philippines?

  • A lot of factors need to be considered when setting up your own company in the Philippines: What papers and licenses are required, how to find reliable business partners, etc.
  • If you want to do business in the Philippines the first things you need to do is incorporate and register your company.
  • This follows a bureaucratic system that can easily take over a month to complete.
  • Ask for an expert that is experienced with starting up a business in the Philippines, this will reduce a lot of hassle.
  • Social media plays an important role in the Philippines -especially Facebook- it is a good place to market your business.
  • Be wary of excessive fees for accountants, registrations, and other things. Consult others with experience when you are unsure about the appropriateness of fees.
  • When starting up a business it is important to find out what bank is best for you. An international bank might be a good idea.
  • If you need to import goods into the Philippines, check port and airport regulations. The regulations and fees for import in the Philippines differ from other countries.

What company types are most commonly used by foreign companies in the Philippines?

  • Most foreigners have a single-proprietorship or corpated business where 60% of the company is owned by a Filipino passport holder.
  • IT is a popular sector to invest or start up a company. Multinationals rely on the Philippines when it comes to outsourcing customer service. This sector is on the rise due to low wages and high proficiency in English.
  • Retail and catering are also popular sectors in which foreigners are activily doing business in the Philippines.

How do you find reliable business partners in the Philippines?

  • Research who you know in the specific sector you want to become active in.
  • Using your network is another good way to meet people.
  • There are several conferences on international business in the Philippines; here you can find business partners that are looking to cooperate with international businesses.

What compliances are needed in regards to accounting in the Philippines?

  • Accounting requires is a lot of paper work so it is advised to hire an accountant and/or bookkeeper, especially for bigger companies.
  • A local accountant can be a great help as they are aware of how things are done in the Philippines. Foreigners tend to have a harder time as compared to locals. A Filipino helping hand is a great addition to your company.
  • If you decide to incorporate your company you will have to put at least 60% in the name of a Philippine citizen. Make sure that you either fully trust this person or make up a contract that states that they are not allowed to make any decisions in regards to the company. Make sure that you protect yourself from malice and miscommunication, a shareholder agreement can help with this.

How does the sales tax system work in the Philippines?

  • Foreign corporations are only taxable on income derived from sources within the Philippines.
  • Of course, if applicable: Check your individual agreements with e.g. Dutch tax law.
  • A 12% value added tax (VAT) of the gross selling price is imposed to all importation, sale, barter, exchange or lease of goods or properties and sale of services.

What are important factors to consider in regards to the contract of employment in the Philippines?

As a business owner you have the option to offer people an agreement or a contract. An agreement is not an official work contract. This lets you pay the expenses of the person you made the agreement with for up to a certain amount of pesos per day. Common examples for this type of agreement are volunteers, interns or parttime helpers. You can pay a certain amount per day for their expenses (meals, transport, etc.), but you have to remember to keep the receipts as proof. 

When offering an official work contract you have to consider a lot more requirements.

  • Your company/organisation has to register with the following institutions:
    • Social Security System (SSS)
      • SSS provides employees with social benefits. Financial contribution is required by the employer as well as the employee.
    • PhilHealth
      • Employers are required to register their staff for PhilHealth so they can provide their employees with Social Health Insurance.
    • Pag-IBIG
      • Employers are required to register their staff for Pag-IBIG so they can provide their employees with financial help for home ownership (mortgage).

General information in regards to employing people:

  • The Philippines has a lot of official non-working holidays. Check your calendar regularly to be up-to-date with these holidays. Always make clear to the staff on what days they are required to work and what days they aren't.
  • When the company has less than 20 employees extra pay for holidays and overtime is not required.
  • Minimum wage is around 500 pesos per day in the North Capital Region (NCR). Other regions have their own rules in regards to minimum wage.
  • When coming up with a contract or agreement you can find specific templates for the Philippines on the internet.
  • General considerations of employment contracts apply to the Philippines as well.
  • For international employees extra factors need to be considered:
    • Visa Arrangements.
    • Arrangement of accommodation.
    • If accommodation is provided what are regulations for spouses.
    • Escape clause in regards to leaving the country.

What are important factors to consider when taking over a company in the Philippines?

  • See above, all requirements should be taken care of.
  • Check outstanding issues or requirements that the company has not been able to follow, so there won't be any issues in the future.

Orientation regarding education in the Philippines

How does the education system work in the Philippines?

The Philippines is following a Kindergarten to Grade 12 program, which covers 13 years of basic education with the following key stages:

  • Kindergarten to Grade 3.
  • Grades 4 to 6.
  • Grades 7 to 10 (Junior High School).
  • Grades 11 and 12 (Senior High School).
  • Tertiary education: after graduating from high school, students are encouraged to go to college or university as most entry level jobs require a college degree. The Philippines has over 1,000 universities and colleges.
  • International schools: In the major cities you can find schools that identify themselves as 'International'. This means classes are taught in English, although primary and high schools are still required to follow the local curriculum. International colleges and universities offer diplomas and curricula from universities in the west (most common are UK and USA). These schools generally offer high quality education. The international schools are very expensive; tuition fees are equal to or sometimes higher than European and American fees.   
  • Dutch, chinese, german or spanish lessons can be arranged with private tutors. 

What should you pay attention to when choosing a school in the Philippines?

  • There is a large diversity of opportunities when arranging education in the Philippines, whether it be for your children or yourself.
  • International schools can be found all over the Philippines, managed by different people with different backgrounds. Check certification and school evaluations as quality between schools can differ significantly.
  • Private schools are available and vary in price; the most expensive schools can ask yearly tuition fees of over 300,000 php. Most colleges that are considered to be of good quality are in a price range of 80,000-200,000 php per year.
  • When choosing a school or college it is very important to look at the school’s reputation. As there are over 1,000 colleges in the Philippines it is important to pick the right school for you. Applying for a job after graduating can be a taxing endeavor but with a degree from University of the Philippines, La Salle, Ateneo, or University of Santa Tomas the process will be much smoother. Some companies only hire student from the well-known schools.
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Travel, living and working in The Philippines - WorldSupporter Theme

Travel, living and working in The Philippines - WorldSupporter Theme

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The Philippines

The Philippines consists of 7,107 islands, of which only a part is inhabited. You will find many Bounty beaches and an amazing underwater world where you can snorkel with whale sharks, for example. Visit one of the small uninhabited islands and imagine yourself in paradise or climb one of the many volcanoes. The Philippines has great

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