Today, I learned something very important. It is also very good news from my perspective.
We have talked a number of times on this blog about the (in)ability of foreigners to own land in the Philippines. It has always been my understanding that under no circumstances can a foreigner own land in the Philippines. The only exception I knew of was if the land was owned by a corporation, which could be up to 40% owned by the foreigner. I found out today that there is indeed a way that a foreigner could have absolute ownership of a piece of land. First, let me say that the land can be a maximum of 1,000 square meters, no more.
How is it possible? Well, at one point, when we were discussing this, Pete made a comment saying that it is possible to have the title or the bill of sale read “Maria P. Martin, married to Robert Martin” or something of the sort. However, even Pete said that such wording offered you no ability to own it anyway, and was just words on paper (Pete, that is my interpretation from memory, correct me if I am wrong). But, today I learned that having that language on the deed can make it possible for the foreigner to gain absolute ownership of the land in the long run. If you have that wording on the title or deed for the land, and tell the recording body that the land is conjugal property, if the wife were preceed the husband in death, it is possible for the husband to inherit and keep the land in his name permanently. There is one small catch, though – the husband (the foreigner) must have a permanent resident visa in the Philippines. In other words, if the husband holds a 13 series visa (I have a 13g Visa), he can hold ownership of up to 1,000 square meters of land!
I was shocked to hear this, but the information came to me from a source that I would consider quite reliable. It is from a woman who works at the Bureau of Immigration, and also through an attorney who handles immigration law. Because of the quality of the sources, I believe now that this information is absolutely true.
In addition to the ownership question, if the land is titled in the way that I outlined, in the event of a marriage annulment, the land would also have to be split 50/50 between the husband and the wife. But again, only if the husband has a permanent resident visa.
So, to reiterate, to protect yourself, you need to:
- Obtain a permanent resident visa in the Philippines, and keep it current.
- When buying land, keep your purchase to less than 1,000 square meters.
- When having the title recorded, have it recorded as – “your wife’s name”, married to “your name”, and tell the person doing the recording that the land is conjugal property.