[OPINION] Navigating dual ownership: Property rights for Filipino American dual citizens

By: Sharon Ann Bathan-San Pedro

FOR Filipino Americans holding dual citizenship, the landscape of property ownership in the Philippines is rich with opportunities and benefits. Thanks to Republic Act No. 9225, also known as the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003, natural-born Filipinos who have become naturalized citizens of other countries can reclaim their Philippine citizenship. This law empowers dual citizens with the same property rights as any Filipino citizen, opening doors to owning, inheriting, and investing in real estate in the Philippines. Understanding these rights and responsibilities is crucial for maximizing the benefits of dual citizenship in the property sector.

This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to navigating property ownership for Filipino-American dual citizens, ensuring you can make informed decisions and effectively manage your investments in the Philippines.

Understanding dual citizenship

Thanks to the Philippine Dual Citizenship Law (Republic Act No. 9225, also known as the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003), Filipinos who have become American citizens can reclaim their Philippine citizenship. This dual citizenship status allows you to enjoy the benefits of both nations, including the right to own property in the Philippines just like any Filipino citizen.

Republic Act No. 9225: Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003

Republic Act No. 9225 allows natural-born Filipinos who have lost their Philippine citizenship through naturalization in a foreign country to reacquire their Philippine citizenship. Here are the key details and provisions of the law:

  • Retention of Philippine citizenship: Natural-born Filipinos who become naturalized citizens of another country can retain their Philippine citizenship by taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines.
  • Re-acquisition of Philippine citizenship: Natural-born Filipinos who have lost their Philippine citizenship through naturalization in another country can reacquire it by taking the same oath of allegiance.
  • Rights and privileges: Dual citizens under RA 9225 enjoy full civil and political rights as Filipino citizens. This includes the right to vote in Philippine elections, own property, engage in business, and practice their profession in the Philippines.
  • Oath of allegiance: The oath of allegiance is a formal declaration of loyalty to the Republic of the Philippines, which must be taken before a duly authorized Philippine official.
  • Children of dual citizens: Unmarried children, whether legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted, under 18 years of age, of those who reacquire Philippine citizenship under this Act shall be deemed citizens of the Philippines.
  • Benefits for reacquired citizens: Dual citizens can own land and other properties in the Philippines as if they were natural-born Filipino citizens. They also regain the right to practice their profession, provided they meet the requirements set by the relevant professional regulatory bodies.
  • Residency requirement for public office: For dual citizens to hold public office in the Philippines, they must establish residency in the country. Specific offices may have additional requirements regarding residency and other qualifications.

Your property rights explained

As a Filipino-American dual citizen, you have the same property ownership rights as any Filipino. Here’s what you can do:

  • Own land: You can buy and register land in your name.
  • Inherit land: You can receive property as inheritance according to Philippine laws.
  • Invest in property: You can invest in real estate and engage in property-related businesses.

Property ownership for foreigners

While foreigners are generally not allowed to own land in the Philippines, they are permitted to purchase condominium units. The Condominium Act of the Philippines (RA 4726) allows foreigners to own up to 40% of the total units in a condominium project. For land ownership, however, the owner must be a Filipino citizen or a dual citizen.

Keeping up with responsibilities

Owning property comes with responsibilities, such as:

  • Tax compliance: Stay updated on real estate taxes and ensure timely payments to avoid penalties.
  • Property management: Maintain your property, ensure its security, and, if it’s leased, manage rental income effectively.
  • Legal obligations: Keep informed about zoning laws, property regulations, and any changes in legislation that could impact your ownership.

Estate planning and inheritance

Proper estate planning is essential, especially if you have significant assets in the Philippines. It’s important to:

  • Set up a will: Ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
  • Understand Philippine inheritance laws: Be aware of how these laws affect your estate.
  • Hire a reliable attorney: A good attorney can help you navigate legal complexities and manage your affairs.

Investment potential

If you’re interested in investing, the Philippines offers promising opportunities in various sectors, such as residential, commercial, and agricultural real estate. Key tips to consider include:

  • Research emerging markets: Look into areas with high growth potential.
  • Assess investment types: Decide whether you want to invest in residential, commercial, or agricultural properties.
  • Evaluate before purchasing: Consider factors like location, market trends, and legal aspects.

Real-life insights

Learn from other Filipino American dual citizens who have successfully navigated the property market. Their experiences can provide valuable lessons on overcoming challenges and making strategic decisions. We encourage you to share your own experiences with us. Email us your stories, challenges, and triumphs. By sharing insights, we can build a community interested in property and land management in the Philippines. Let’s engage in SAB — Sharing Across Borders — to foster a network of support and knowledge exchange.

We’re here to help

Whether you’re new to dual citizenship or considering investing in the Philippine real estate market, we’re here to provide trustworthy advice and information to help you make informed decisions. If you have any property concerns related to buying, selling, or documentation, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to assist you every step of the way.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Sharon Ann Bathan-San Pedro, founder and CEO of SAB Realty, is a licensed real estate broker in the Philippines with 10 years of experience and a member of NAR (National Association of Realtors in America). SAB Realty is the first real estate brokerage and marketing company specializing in catering to Filipinos living overseas, helping them with their real estate needs in the Philippines. Whether you are planning to sell, lease, need property management, require extra-judicial settlement, or have land open for joint ventures, Sharon is ready to assist you. Contact her via email at [email protected] or call PH number 0917-8237796 (Whatsapp and Viber), USA (909) 4131480 (Viber). You can also visit the SAB Realty Facebook page for more information.


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