Business entities in Philippines

Business entities in Philippines

Entrepreneurs willing to setup a business in Philippines are unable to do so through the establishment of a limited liability company, because such business entity is not provided by local regulations. Healy Consultants will assist our Clients with choosing between other business entities available in the country, including i) joint stock corporations ii) regional headquarters iii) branches and iv) representative offices.

The Philippines branch office

Philippines business entity setup process and requirements

  • In accordance with Philippines regulations, foreign companies can open a branch office in the Philippines, provided they does not engage in industries restricted to foreigners. While Philippines branch registration is the best strategy to avoid the appointment of resident directors and shareholders, this business entity still requires the appointment of one country representative: the person assuming this function must be ordinarily resident in the Philippines and (if foreign national) allowed to work in the country;
  • The branch office must be registered with the Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and its foreign head office will be required to invest US$200,000 in the Archipelago, although such amount may be reduced to US$100,000 if the branch office setup leads to the creation of at least 50 jobs. If the branch is planning to trade with retail customers, the minimum investment is however increased to US$3 million, in accordance with the Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2000.

The Philippines joint-stock corporation

  • Foreign entrepreneurs reluctant to register a branch in the Philippines can alternatively form a joint stock corporation. To do so, they will first need to appoint a Board of Directors comprising at least 5 members, each of them possessing at least 1 share of the company. Except in industries restricted to foreign investment, these owners can be of any nationality, although foreigners living outside of the Philippines will not be able to own 100% of the company due to the requirement to appoint three resident directors holding each one share;
  • While a Philippines joint-stock corporation can be setup by locals with only US$150 of share capital, such requirement is increased to i) US$100,000 if the company has more than 50 employees or ii) a minimum US$200,000 if otherwise. For foreign owned companies planning to trade with retail customers in the Philippines, the minimum capital requirement is increased to US$3 million;
  • A Philippines joint stock corporation is allowed to start operations only after its registration certificate has been issued and the company has been registered with i) the Bureau of Internal Revenue ii) the Philippines Department of Trade of Industry iii) the Social Security Authority iv) The Home Development Mutual Fund and v) the municipality where the JSC has its headquarters;
  • After incorporation, this type of Philippines business entity will be required to submit i) audited annual financial statements and ii) an annual return, including i) the names and addresses of all owners, directors and managers ii) the company’s capital composition iii) investments made by the company and iv) retained earnings and dividends granted to shareholders.

The Philippines holding company (regional headquarters)

  • A Philippines holding company, also known locally as a regional headquarters, can only be setup by multinationals running operations in at least one Asia-Pacific country. While the holding company may conduct some operations in Philippines, such business entity should be mostly used for the management and supervision of its Philippines and other Asian countries’ subsidiaries. An holding company requires i) a minimum initial investment of US$200,000 upon Philippines business setup and ii) remittances from its foreign subsidiaries of at least US$50,000 per year;
  • The Philippines holding company will benefit from attractive tax advantages, including i) 100% exemption of corporate tax on all earnings received from abroad, if the holding company conducts no operations in Philippines or ii) a reduced corporate tax rate of 10% if otherwise. Philippines holding companies will also not suffer i) taxation from local authorities ii) custom duties on imported equipment and cars and iii) easier visa requirements for their employees.

The Philippines representative office

While Philippines regulations allow foreign companies to open representative offices, such business entities are not allowed to pursue production-related or commercial activities in the country. Consequently, this entity can only engage in i) market research and ii) promoting the business of the parent company. The representative office is also required to deposit on a corporate bank account in Philippines a security bond of at least US$30,000.

The Philippines sole proprietorship

  • Locals willing to start a business in the Philippines usually setup a sole partnership, the simplest structure available in the country. Such business entity can be established i) without share capital requirement and ii) by a single individual, who will be both the owner and director of the partnership. Except in sectors restricted to foreign investment, the company’s owner may be of any nationality but will be required to provide evidence of residency in Philippines during the registration process;
  • Unlike a limited liability company, a sole proprietor will be completely liable for losses made by his business. Such risk may be limited for our Clients running a small business in Philippines such as i) a restaurant ii) a guesthouse or iii) a small shop. To protect our Clients’ personal assets, Healy Consultants recommends the setup of a Philippines joint stock corporation, especially for Clients expecting their business to i) have important annual sales ii) to involve complex operations and/or iii) to be run from abroad;
  • While the setup process of a sole proprietorship is simpler than a corporation’s, our Client will still be required to register his business with i) the Philippines Department of Trade and Industry ii) the nearest municipality iii) the Bureau of Internal Revenue (for tax and VAT) and iv) the Social Security Authority.

Doing business in the Philippines without a local establishment

  • Because of the significant amount of paid-up capital required to register a branch or a foreign-owned company in the Philippines, our Clients often decide to start business with a local distributor/agent instead. Distribution contracts often include a commission of 10% on all local sales made by the distributor, and a 30 days’ notice period to terminate the contract;
  • Most distributors either act as i) stocking distributors, in which case they are required to keep an inventory of the products to be sold in the Philippines or ii) indenters, in which case they only act as a broker between our Client and the end-customer, without a need to keep an inventory. In both cases, distributors are however required to seek registration with the Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Table of comparison between Philippines entities

     JSCHolding companyHolding operating companyBranchRep officeSole proprietorship
    Also known as:Closed corporationRegional headquartersRegional operating headquartersBranchRep. officeSole proprietorship
    How long to set the company up?8 weeks6 weeks6 weeks6 weeks6 weeks4 weeks
    How long to open company bank account?4 weeks4 weeks4 weeks4 weeks4 weeks4 weeks
    Legal liability?LimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
    Minimum shareholders?511111
    Wholly foreign owned?NoYesYesYesYesYes
    Maximum foreign-ownership?99.99%100%100%100%100%100%
    Minimum share capital for foreigners?US$200,000US$200,000US$200,000US$200,000US$30,000US$1
    Can be registered by nonresidents?YesYesYesYesYesNo
    File annual tax return?YesYesYesYesYesYes
    Corporate bank account options?CitibankStandard CharteredANZPNBBDOHSBC
    Does our Client need to travel?YesYesYesYesYesYes
    Resident director required?311111
    Minimum directors allowed?511111
    Corporate shareholders allowed?YesYesYesYesYesNo
    Individual shareholders allowed?YesNoNoNoNoYes
    Philippines corporate tax rate?30%0%10%30%0%30%
    Annual financial statements required?YesYesYesYesNoNo
    Allowed to issue sales invoices in Philippines?YesNoYesYesNoYes
    Allowed to sign contracts with Philippines entities?YesNoYesYesNoYes
    Allowed to import and export goods?YesNoYesYesNoYes
    Can rent an office in Philippines?YesYesYesYesYesYes
    Can buy Philippines property?YesNoYesYesNoYes
    Can own equity in other Philippines companies?YesYesYesYesNoYes
    Total Philippines business setup costs in Yr. 1US$16,050US$15,150US$20,510US$20,510US$15,150Contact us
    Subsequent annual costs (excl. accounting and tax fees)US$1,550US$1,800US$2,050US$2,050US$1,800Contact us
    Sample engagement fee invoicePhilippines JSC invoicePhilippines RAH invoicePhilippines ROH invoicePhilippines branch invoicePhilippines RO invoiceContact us

Contact us

For additional information on our business setup services in Philippines, please email us at Alternatively please contact our in-house country expert, Ms. Chrissi Zamora, directly:
client relationship officer - Chrissi