If you’d like to become a Filipino citizen, then you should read this post carefully.
Under certain circumstances, you can file for Filipino citizenship yourself.
However, your particular circumstances might require a court process. Yes, this means hiring a lawyer and presenting evidence to the court.
In this post, I outline the process, fees and timeline for both and provide practical advice as to how to go about it so if you’re interested, hang around.
Why You Should Get Philippine Citizenship
Due to restrictions on the ownership of land and business and practice of profession, foreigners often opt to become Filipinos.
As a Filipino citizen, you can buy as much land as you would like.
In addition, you no longer have to abide by the 40% foreign ownership cap for business.
You can practice any profession (some are now limited to Filipinos) and you can now participate actively in elections.
And if you want to travel, it’s useful. South East Asia is completely open to you as there are reciprocal travel arrangements in place with several countries.
Given these compelling reasons, foreigners who opt to stay in the country for the long haul often decide to become Filipinos to better pursue their business interests.
If you’ve decided that the Philippines is the right place for you, then Philippine citizenship might just be the right decision.
3 Ways to Get Philippine Citizenship
There are 3 ways to get Philippine citizenship for foreigners but I only focus on 2 since the third requires an act of congress.
Unless you know Congress ( ! ) and have done something incredibly spectacular, it’s far more likely that you’ll go through one of the below processes instead of legislative naturalization.
- Administrative Naturalization
Administrative Naturalization is open to those who were born in the Philippines and who have resided here since birth.
If this describes your situation, then it is pretty likely you can avail of this option.
There are other requirements you’ll have to comply with but those are far easier to manage.
See our Administrative Section to check if you fit the bill.
- Judicial Naturalization
If you’re not qualified for Administrative Naturalization, then you’ll have to go through Judicial Naturalization.
Judicial Naturalization is actually a fairly easy – although detailed process – if you fit all the requirements.
While one of the stumbling blocks is the 10 year residency requirement, this can actually be cut to 5 years under certain conditions.
Be sure to check all the boxes and have competent council however, since petitions are thrown out for not strictly adhering to the rules.
Check out our Judicial Naturalization Process for more information.
By the way, this does not apply to former Filipinos.
There is a completely separate process to reinstate Philippine citizenship for former Filipinos that is not covered here.
8 Ways to be Disqualified from Acquiring Philippine Citizenship
Any group who accepts new members wants productive and nice applicants, and the Philippine government is no different.
Some sure-fire ways of not being able to become a Philippine citizen would be if you were a trouble maker, didn’t mingle with Filipinos, or belonged to countries with whom the Philippine government didn’t see eye to eye.
So for instance, you’d be refused citizenship if you opposed government, belonged to groups that opposed government or believed in violence to get the outcome you desired.
Also, you’d best not apply if you practiced or believed in polygamy, were convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, suffer from mental alienation or from incurable contagious diseases.
Lastly, if your country doesn’t allow their Filipinos to become citizens or is at war with your country your application should probably not be filed.
Naturalization through Administrative Order (R.A. 9139)
If you aren’t disqualified by any of the above and were born and have lived in the Philippines your entire life, you can DIY your Philippine naturalization.
It usually takes a year and costs about Php 170,000 to 205,000 or about USD 4,000. This cost is broken down into:
- 1,000 Form Fee
- 39,000 Filing and Docketing Fee
- 100,000 Oath Taking and Naturalization Fee
- 30,000 to 65,000 Publication Fee
Remember, read the fine print carefully and pay attention to detail.
That way, errors can be avoided and your petition can be quickly granted.
Do you qualify for Administrative Naturalization?
For administrative naturalization, you’ve got to have all of the below to qualify.
Otherwise, it is best if you file for Judicial Naturalization.
- You were born and have lived in the Philippines your entire life;
- You are 18 years old at the time of the petition;
- You are of good moral character, believe in the principles of the Constitution and conduct yourself well with the government and your community;
- You were in a CHED recognized school for primary and secondary education where Philippine history, civics and education and where enrollment is for all races. This also applies to your minor children;
- You must have enough income to support yourself and your family except if you cannot practice your profession due to citizenship requirements;
- You speak any Filipino dialect;
- You mingled with Filipinos.
Step 1: Create your petition
Break out your pencils, because you will have to write a bit.
Thankfully, the information you need is pretty simple and is listed below.
In addition, don’t forget the attachments you need as these are important requirements.
You’ll need to have 5 copies. Please include the following in your petition:
- A thumbmark on every page;
- A passport sized photo attached to each copy;
- You full name, nickname and any other name you are known by;
- Your place and date of birth;
- Your current and former addresses;
- Your adoptive or natural parents’ name, citizenship and residences;
- Your trade or profession and that of your wife and children;
- Your civil status and the date and place of all marriages as well as the name, date of birth, birthplace, citizenship, and residence of the spouse. If you were legally separated or annulled, you’ll have to include the date and the court that granted the decree. If you have been widowed, you’ll need to provide the date and place of death of your spouse.
- Declaration that you shall not be a public charge (in other words, dependent on the government).
- Declaration that you really desire to become a Philippine citizen and renounce allegiance to any other country or state.
You’ll also need to attach the following documents:
- Your original or certified copy of your birth certificate;
- Your original or certified alien certificate of registration and native-born certificate of residence;
- Your original or certified copy of your marriage certificate, death certificate if widowed, or legal separation decree if separated;
- Your children’s original or certified copy of your birth certificate, certificate of registration, or native-born certificate of residence;
- Affidavit of financial capacity supported by documents such as bank, stock or ownership of other properties;
- Affidavits of 2 Filipinos of good standing who live in your city and who have known you for at least 10 years. These two witnesses must assure the committee that you’ve good moral character and that you are qualified to become a Philippine citizen;
- A medical certificate stating that you have no drug dependencies, are not mentally alienated, do not have AIDs or any contagious, incurable disease;
- School records and a certificate stating that your children are enrolled in DECS accredited schools with Philippine history, government and civics and which is not limited to a particular race;
- Income tax returns for the past 3 years if employed.
I really suggest that you run your documents by the ladies who are at the naturalization desk first. They can check to make sure everything is alright before you start.
Step 2: Filing and Processing Your Petition
- File your petition with the Secretariat of the Special Committee on Naturalization. The office of the committee is at the Office of the Solicitor General in Makati.
- Your petition will be assessed.
- Your petition will be raffled off to a newspaper and a part of it will be published once a week for 3 weeks. It will also be posted in the Sol Gen’s office.
- You’ll have to follow up with the newspaper yourself and pay their fees. It can be pretty expensive depending on what the newspaper is.
- Your petition will be forwarded and posted in the offices of the National Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Bureau of Immigration, and your local Civil Registrar.
- These agencies will inform the Committee that they posted the petition and that you have a clean record;
- You will be called for a test and an interview.
- If all goes well, you’ll be asked to pay the 100,000 fee.
- Afterwards, all that remains is the oath and viola – You’re a Philippine citizen. (Congratulations!)
- Your Certificate of Naturalization will be forwarded to the Bureau of Immigration and the local Civil Registrar.
- You can get your wife and kids a derivative petition as well, for 60,000 per person.
Naturalization through Judicial Order (C.A. 473)
You’ll have to contact a lawyer and go through the judicial process if you don’t qualify for Administrative Naturalization.
Judicial Naturalization takes about two and a half years from the filing of the intention to become a Filipino (remember after that filing, there is a mandatory 1 year waiting period before you start the court process itself).
Costs include the regular published fees as well as legal fees for accepting the case, preparing the pleadings and appearing in court.
Both the time and the cost estimate really depends on your circumstances and your available documents and proof.
Judicial naturalization has 2 time-based requirements among other prerequisites:
- You must have resided in the Philippines for 10 years;
- You must have waited 1 year after you filed your intention to become a Filipino with the Office of the Solicitor General.
That’s a lot of time.
Thankfully, both can be shorted or waived if certain conditions are met.
For instance, the 10-year residence requirement becomes 5 years if you were born in the Philippines or married a Filipina (one hopes this is also true if you married a Filipino!).
This is also true if you were a teacher for at least 2 years in a school not limited to a particular race. Likewise you’re good if you established a new industry or invention in the Philippines or if you honorably held office in the Government of the Philippines.
Now, the 1 year waiting period can be totally waived if you have continuously lived in the Philippines for 30 years or if you were born and educated in the Philippines in a CHED recognized school not limited to a particular race for your primary and secondary education. (You must have also given Philippine education to your children.)
Do you qualify for Judicial Naturalization?
Like the administrative process above, there are certain qualifications:
- You have to be 21 years old at the hearing of the petition;
- You must have resided in the Philippines for 10 years;
- You are of good moral character and believe in the Philippine Constitution. You must also have conducted yourself in an irreproachable manner with the government and the community in which you live;
- You must own real estate not less than 5,000 pesos or must have some lucrative trade or profession (yes, that’s USD 100 and just goes to show how old this 1939 law really is! Essentially, it means you’ve got to be able to support yourself);
- You must be able to speak and write English, Spanish or one of the main Philippine languages;
- Your minor children must have been enrolled in CHED recognized school open to all races where Philippine history, government and civics are taught during your entire period of residence.
Step 1: File your Intention to Become Filipino with the Bureau of Immigration
You don’t have to file with the Office of the Solicitor General and wait for 1 year if:
- You’ve lived in the Philippines for 30 years or
- You were born and educated in a non- race restricted CHED recognized school for your primary and secondary education.
If either of those two apply to you, then you can immediately file your petition with the court.
If not, you’ll have to file a petition with the Bureau of Immigration. It should have the below information:
- You full name;
- Your place, date of birth and age;
- Your personal description;
- Your occupation;
- Your current address;
- Your last foreign address and citizenship;
- Date of your arrival and the name of the vessel or aircraft that you used;
- Declaration that you enrolled your minor children in a non-race restricted school recognized by the CHED where Philippine history, civics and government are taught;
- Certificate showing the date, place and manner must be shown to prove lawful entry;
- 2 photographs of yourself
To do this properly, it’s really best to consult with your lawyer.
There are some requirements that can be a bit difficult for a first timer to get right.
I’ve read some Supreme Court Rulings where the case could have easily succeeded had a lawyer familiar with the process stepped in.
Think about it this way – it’ll save you having to do the process all over again. 🙂
After this filing, you must wait one year before starting the actual court process.
Step 2: Creating your Petition for Naturalization at Court
After you’ve filed your Intention to Become a Filipino citizen with the Office of the Solicitor General and waited one year, you’ll need to create a Petition to file in Court.
You’ll need to have 3 copies.
Your petition will need to include:
- Your full name;
- Your place and date of birth;
- Your current and former addresses;
- Your occupation;
- Your civil status and any changes to it;
- The name, age, birthplace and residence of your wife and children;
- Port of debarkation and – if remembered – the ship on which you arrived;
- Declaration that you qualify and don’t possess any of the disqualifications;
- Declaration that you filed your Intention to become a Filipino;
- Declaration that you will live in the Philippines from the start of the petition till it is granted;
- You’ll also need to include names and post-office addresses of any witnesses you want to be part of the case;
- Your signature
You’ll also need the following attachments:
- The Affidavit of 2 Filipino citizens who have personally known you for 10 years (or 5, depending on whether you qualify) required. They’ll attest to your good moral character and state you’re qualified for citizenship.
- The certificate of arrival;
- The declaration of intention;
Step 3: Filing the Petition and the Court Process
Philippine court process for naturalization is pretty straight forward.
However, it will still take at least a year and a half (sometimes longer) for the process to be complete.
Well, there are publication requirements that take up 3 weeks or a month and a half counting arrangements and raffling.
In addition, there is a waiting period of 3 months after publication before court can start.
Document gathering and a case’s particular circumstances can also make this period much longer, if it is not addressed prior to court.
- Your complete petition will be filed with the Regional Trial Court in your city. You must have lived in that city for at least a year.
- Your case will be raffled to a particular judge and courtroom of your city’s Regional Trial Court.
- Your court will accept it or raise a concern.
- If your Petition’s been accepted, the Clerk of Court will publish your petition once a week for 3 weeks in a newspaper where you live. The newspaper is also determined by raffle.
- Your petition will also be posted by the Clerk of Court in a public place stating your name, birthplace and residence, your date and place of arrival in the Philippines, the names of your witnesses, and the hearing date .
- Your first hearing can only be held sometime after 90 days from the last publication in a newspaper.
- Your evidence and witnesses will be presented.
- Your court decision will be released.
- Your petition will also be forwarded to several other government departments for action and to inform them.
And yes, you’re done!