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Manila: Your Business Destination

Are you dreaming about working in Manila? The city’s economy is quite diverse, and expats working in Manila benefit from everything this commercial hub has to offer. Read our Expat Guide on Manila and learn all about the economy, business districts, social security, and more.
Manila's international airport turns the city into a traffic hub and major commercial destination.

The Job Search

Manila’s Bureau of Local Employment suggests job fairs as a potential way of finding employment. In essence, job fairs are intended to make it easier for both employers and jobseekers to get in touch with each other. At the fairs, you also get to meet representatives of recruitment agencies and organizations that offer training assistance and consulting for the self-employed. Bring along your resume, a transcript of your qualifications, and your birth certificate. You never know if you’ll be applying on the spot!

While it varies which agency arranges the job fairs, they are always supervised by the Department of Labor and Employment. If you’d rather do an online search, you can use PHIL-JobNet, the Bureau of Local Employment’s online matching system.

Register Yourself: Alien Employment Permit

Before you can throw yourself onto Manila’s job market, you need to acquire an Alien Employment Permit (AEP). If you have found a job before moving to the Philippines, you can apply for an AEP at the nearest Philippine embassy or consulate. However, if you are doing the traditional job search after arriving in Manila, you should submit your documents at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). If your employer has agreed to apply on your behalf, they should refer to the same department. It depends on the nature and duration of your employment how long your AEP is valid.

Expats who have a residence permit allowing them to live in the Philippines indefinitely need to secure an Alien Employment Registration Certificate (AERC) from the DOLE’s regional office. You can find more information on application requirements at the Bureau of Local Employment. Please keep in mind that an AERC is usually only valid for the specific position with the specific employer mentioned in your application.

Social Security Matters

The Philippines’ social security system covers old age, disability, survivors, sickness, and maternity, as well as work injury. Employees working in the private sector, domestic workers, and the self-employed are usually covered by the social security system. Spouses of insured individuals, Filipinos working abroad, and people who are no longer eligible to receive compulsory benefits may opt for voluntary coverage. Military personnel and government staff are covered under a different system.

Social security contributions are made as follows:

  • Insured individuals contribute 3.33% of their gross monthly income
  • The self-employed contribute 10.4% of their monthly earnings
  • Employers contribute 7.07% of the employee’s monthly income

Unfortunately, public social security coverage is not always sufficient. You should consider contributing to the social security system of your home country or to take out a private plan for more comprehensive coverage.

Familiarize Yourself with Local Business Etiquette

Doing business in the Philippines takes time and patience, as the notion that “time is money” carries little resonance in Manila’s business world. Rather, business relationships are a very personal matter and take time to grow. Thus, expats who plan on working in Manila should arm themselves with patience when developing these relationships. As a part of this business mentality, it is quite common that co-workers and business partners ask rather personal questions about you and your family. This is completely natural, so try not to be put off, and simply enjoy the friendly chit-chat.

For business meetings, you should dress conservatively and remain patient and calm. Raising your voice or interrupting your colleagues is considered terribly rude and very disrespectful. So be warned: Losing your cool will not speed up the process of closing a deal; quite on the contrary, it would likely stifle the progress already made.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Jacques Paillard

"All expatriates in my company joined InterNations because it really helped me get accustomed to my new life in Manila. "

Adriana Rodrigues Zon

"The idea of getting to know other expats in Manila was very appealing to me, and I've greatly expanded my network in the Philippines. "

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