Philippines free zones

Philippines free zones

The Philippines authorities provide special economic zones (SEZs) where large foreign investment projects can be registered to benefit from numerous incentives. Investment projects are vetted by the Philippines Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), according to multiple criteria including i) the nature of business ii) export orientation iii) extent of technology transfers and iv) the size of the project in terms of capital investment and job creation.

Key industries eligible for PEZA registration include i) export manufacturing, ii) information technology service export iii) tourism iv) agro-industrial export manufacturing and v) logistics and warehousing services.

Main benefits of registering a company in a Philippines free zone

Register Philippines free zone company

  • Exemption from corporate income tax for up to 6 years. Exemption can be extended to 8 years if i) average net foreign exchange earnings is at least US$500,000 for the first 3 years, ii) average cost of indigenous raw materials is at least 50% of total raw materials and iii) capital equipment to labour ratio does not exceed US$10,000 to 1;
  • Corporate income tax of 5% upon exemption expiry;
  • Exemption from expanded withholding tax;
  • Tax and duty free import of raw materials and capital equipment;
  • Exemption from wharfage dues and export tax;
  • 0% VAT for local purchase compliant with PEZA requirements;
  • Exemption from local government imposts, fees and licenses.

Additional benefits of Philippines SEZ

  • Simplified import/export procedures;
  • Ease of employment of foreign nationals in supervisory and technical positions;
  • Visa facilitation assistance to foreign nationals’ dependents.

Requirements to register business within a Philippines free zone

  • Investment projects are assessed on a case by case basis by PEZA (or another relevant free zone authority when applicable). While there is no official investment threshold, Healy Consultants recommends our Clients to seek registration only if their investment project is likely to reach a minimum investment level of US$250,000;
  • See also PEZA webpage for additional information regarding eligible activities.

Comparison of free zones

Subic Shipyard Special Economic Zone

  • Subic Bay Shipyard Free Zone is located in region 3 of Philippines. It is the largest free port in Luzon in terms of asset size.
  • The zone currently employs over 100,000 employees and has attracted over US$6 billion worth of investment;
  • The investment priority areas in Subic Shipyard are: i) shipbuilding and marine ii) manufacturing and iii) tourism and services;
  • Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority is the regulating authority of this free zone.

Cagayan Economic Zone

  • The Cagayan Special Economic zone (region 2) is situated in the northeastern tip of the Philippines, surrounded by the Balintang Channel, China sea and the Pacific Ocean. Consequently, it enjoys proximity to the lucrative markets of Taiwan, China, Japan and Korea;
  • The freeport operates as a separate customs territory with access to international shipping routes;
  • Its key industries are in: i) trans-shipment ii) agro-industrial and iii) tourism and leisure;
  • This free zone is regulated by Cagayan economic zone authority.

Clark Special Economic Zone

  • Clark SEZ is an inland economic zone in Luzon with a total land area (including subzone) of 29,365 hectares. It is located just 80 km north of Manila, reachable by land and air transport;
  • The vast land area allows for a wide range of business activities including i) IT enabled industries ii) retirement villages iii) medical tourism iv) aviation and v) logistic related enterprises;
  • The free zone boost i) modern infrastructure, ii) vast road networks and iii) excellent telecommunication facilities;
  • Clark Development Corporation is the regulator of this free zone.
Special Economic ZoneSubay Bay Freeport ZoneClark Freeport ZoneZamboanga Ecozone and Free PortCagayan Economic Zone
Average annual Industrial space rent per 1000 sq. m.US$2,800US$3,600US$2,500US$4,800
Timelines for company formation?8 weeks8 weeks8 weeks8 weeks
How long to open company bank account?4 weeks4 weeks4 weeks4 weeks
Quality of utilities?FairExcellentExcellentGood
Allowed to sign sales contracts with Philippines Clients?YesYesYesYes
Allowed to invoice Philippines Clients?YesYesYesYes
Corporate tax payable in Philippines?YesYesYesYes
Corporate bank account?Maybank PhilippinesStandard CharteredDeutsche BankJP Morgan Chase
Physical office space required?YesYesYesYes
Industrial space availability?ManyLimitedManyMany
Allowed to import raw materials?YesYesYesYes
Allowed to export goods?YesYesYesYes
Wholly foreign owned?YesYesYesYes
Can the entity hire expatriate staff in Philippines?YesYesYesYes
Do you visit Philippines for company incorporation?NoNoNoNo
Minimum number of directors?5555
Resident director required?Yes, 3Yes, 3Yes, 3Yes, 3
Minimum number of shareholders?5555
Tax registration required?YesYesYesYes
Individual shareholders allowed?YesYesYesYes
Corporate shareholders allowed?YesYesYesYes
Public register of shareholders and directors?YesYesYesYes
LLC company allowed?YesYesYesYes
Can apply for immigration visas?YesYesYesYes
Annual audited financial statements?YesYesYesYes
Annual tax return to be submitted?YesYesYesYes

Frequently asked questions

Contact us

For additional information on our free zone company registration services in Philippines, please email us at email@healyconsultants.com. Alternatively please contact our in-house country expert, Ms. Chrissi Zamora, directly:
client relationship officer - Chrissi