Doing Business In Philippines

  1. The Philippines is ranked 138 out of 185 economies in Doing Business 2013, recording a decline of 2 points compared to last year. This decline reflecting lower scores for seven indicators.
  2. According to the latest Enterprise Surveys (2009), the top 3 obstacles to firm investment in the Philippines include Practices of the Informal Sector, Access to Finance and Tax Rates. Only 33.2% of firms reported having a line of credit or loans from financial institutions, compared to 40.4% regionally and 35.9% of all countries surveyed. Of the firms surveyed, 37.5% reported competing with unregistered or informal firms, compared with 50.1% for the region and 56.2% for all countries.
  3. Among the 87 countries covered by the Investing Across Sectors indicators, the Philippines imposes foreign equity ownership restrictions on more sectors than most other countries. The country imposes ownership limitations on many industries, in particular on the primary and service sectors. Foreign capital participation in the mining and oil and gas industries, for example, is limited to a maximum share of 40% by the Philippine Constitution. Foreign ownership in those sectors, however, may be allowed up to 100% if the investor enters into a financial or technical assistance agreement (FTAA) with the government.
  4. The Philippines’ economic freedom score is 57.1, making its economy the 107th freest in the 2012 Index. Its score is 0.9 point higher than last year, with a significant improvement in business freedom. The Philippines ranks 19th out of 41 countries in the Asia–Pacific region, and its overall score is slightly below the world and regional averages.

Source: World Bank


Visa Information

Visa regulations in the Philippines are subject to change so be sure to check with a Philippine embassy or consulate before making your travel plans.
At the time of writing, citizens of nearly all countries did not need a visa to enter the Philippines for stays of less than 22 days - you'll be given a 21-day visa on arrival in the country. However, you may well be asked for proof of an exit or onward ticket upon arrival in the country.
For longer stays, before you travel apply at a Philippine embassy or consulate for a three-month single-entry visa, which usually costs US$30. Multiple-entry visas valid for up to six or twelve months are also available ($60 or $90 respectively), but you'll still be limited to 59-day stays.
Most Philippine embassies and consulates won't issue you a visa without proof of a ticket for onward travel from the Philippines. Usually, a photocopy of your itinerary from your travel agent is enough, but some ask to see the actual ticket.
Visa extensions
If you want to stay beyond the 21 or 59 days you've been given on arrival, you'll have to deal with a local immigration office. Fortunately, you can now buy your way past a lot of the red tape with a P500 'express fee', which may be pricey but it ensures that your application is processed in only a few hours, rather than the usual five to seven days.
Currently, 21-day visas can be extended to 59 days for P2020. Longer extensions (up to a maximum of six months) are possible, with correspondingly higher fees. You'll need photocopies of the identity page and the Philippine entry stamp from your passport, and you may need to show an onward ticket.
Manila's massive Bureau of Immigration (02-527 3265; Magallanes Dr; 8am-noon & 1-5pm Mon-Fri) squats between the Pasig River and the Intramuros city walls. A visit to this imposing edifice is a formal occasion: casual clothes, such as shorts and singlets, are prohibited - flip-flops (thongs) are also a bad fashion statement - and you'll need proof of identity to enter the building.
Visa extensions from 21 to 59 days can often be handled faster by the regional immigration offices in San Fernando (La Union) and Cebu City, but remember to dress for success.
Onward tickets
Officially, you must have a ticket for onward travel to enter the Philippines. This applies both to those who apply for visas before arriving in the Philippines and those who hope to receive a 21-day visa on arrival. In practice, immigration inspectors at the airport don't always ask to see an onward ticket.

Business Etiquette

Relationships & CommunicationEtiquette in Philippines
Filipinos thrive on interpersonal relationships, so it is advisable to be introduced by a third party.
It is crucial to network and build up a cadre of business associates you can call upon for assistance in the future.
Business relationships are personal relationships, which mean you may be asked to do favours for colleagues, and they will fully expect you to ask them for favours in return.
Once a relationship has been developed it is with you personally, not necessarily with the company you represent.
Therefore, if you leave the company, your replacement will need to build their own relationship.
Presenting the proper image will facilitate building business relationships. Dress conservatively and well at all times.
Business Meeting Etiquette
Appointments are required and should be made 3 to 4 weeks in advance.
It is a good idea to reconfirm a few days prior to the meeting, as situations may change.
Avoid scheduling meetings the week before Easter.
Punctuality is expected. For the most part your Filipino colleagues will be punctual as well.
Face-to-face meetings are preferred to other, more impersonal methods such as the telephone, fax, letter or email.
Send an agenda and informational materials in advance of the meeting so your colleagues may prepare for the discussion.
The actual decision maker may not be at the meeting.
Avoid making exaggerated claims.
Always accept any offer of food or drink. If you turn down offers of hospitality, your colleagues lose face.
It is important to remain for the period of social conversation at the end of the meeting.
Business Negotiation
You may never actually meet with the decision maker or it may take several visits to do so.
Decisions are made at the top of the company.
Filipinos avoid confrontation if at all possible. It is difficult for them to say 'no'. Likewise, their 'yes' may merely mean 'perhaps'.
At each stage of the negotiation, try to get agreements in writing to avoid confusion or misinterpretation.
If you raise your voice or lose your temper, you lose face.
Filipinos do business with people more than companies. If you change representatives during negotiations, you may have to start over. . Negotiations may be relatively slow. Most processes take a long time because group consensus is necessary.
Decisions are often reached on the basis of feelings rather than facts, which is why it is imperative to develop a broad network of personal relationships.
Do not remove your suit jacket unless the most important Filipino does.
Dress Etiquette
Business attire is conservative.
Men should wear a dark coloured, conservative business suit, at least for the initial meeting. 
Women should wear a conservative suit, a skirt and blouse, or a dress.
Women's clothing may be brightly coloured as long as it is of good quality and well tailored.
Appearances matter and visitors should dress well.
Business Cards
You should offer your business card first.
Make sure your business card includes your title.
Present and receive business cards with two hands so that it is readable to the recipient.
Examine the card briefly before putting it in your business card case.
Some senior level executives only give business cards to those of similar rank.

General Business Hours

Banks 9am to 3pm Monday to Friday (most ATMs operate 24 hours daily).


Bars 8pm to late, daily.


Department stores & supermarkets 9am to 7pm or 8pm, daily.


Embassies & consulates 9am to 1pm, Monday to Friday.


Museums 8am to noon and 1pm to 5pm, Monday to Friday.


Post offices 8am to noon and 1pm to 5pm, Monday to Friday.


Public & private offices 8am or 9am to 5pm or 6pm, with a lunch break from noon to 1pm, Monday to Friday.


Restaurants 8am to 11pm, daily.