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Working in the Philippines ?

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Jacques Paillard

Living in the Philippines, from France

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

Adriana Rodrigues Zon

Living in the Philippines, from Portugal

"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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The Philippines at a Glance

Working in the Philippines

More and more expats start working in the Philippines to benefit from the booming economy of the archipelago! Want to join them? Our guide to working in the Philippines offers info on the nation’s economy, etiquette, and everything else you need to know about the country's business world.

Working in the Philippines is an increasingly attractive option for many expatriates. Economically, the country has a lot to offer and attracts more and more interest from foreign investors who consider working in the Philippines a chance to establish themselves in the region. The local government is trying to implement changes in order to compete with other Asian countries and the rest of the world.

The Economy: Still Going Strong

Due to the growing consumer demand and a rebound in exports and investments, the Philippines’ GDP has grown by around 6% in recent years. The economy survived the recession of 2008 and 2009 in better condition than most, and it is now experiencing significant growth. The secondary as well as the services sector were the main drivers of the recent economic upswing, mostly with the support of the manufacturing and construction industries.

All in all, there are about 41 million people working in the Philippines, and more than 21 million of them are employed in the services sector. Other important sectors for expats working in the Philippines are agriculture and the production industries, which employ 29% and 16% of the labor force, respectively. With an unemployment rate of 6.3%, conditions are decent.

Despite its currently strong economy, the Philippines face large national debt and a high rate of poverty. Also, the country depends on the money overseas workers send home to their families. The government has yet to take measures benefit fully from the strong economy and create incentives for people to start working in the Philippines.

What the long-term economic effects of the 2013 typhoon will be is still unclear. Beyond the obvious human tragedy caused by the natural disaster, the infrastructure in the eastern parts of the Philippines could take years to rebuild. Additionally, the economic growth lost a bit of steam as the increase in GDP slowed down after the events. However, the economy is still growing at a consistent rate following the storm damages. 

Getting Your Work Permit

Every foreign national who plans on working in the Philippines needs to report to the Philippine Department of Labor & Employment (DOLE) for an Alien Employment Permit (AEP). If you are heading to the Philippines and have already secured your non-immigrant visa, you can apply for an AEP at your nearest embassy or consulate. See our article on moving to the Philippines for more information on visas.

However, if you already have an employer in the Philippines, it is usually easier if they apply on your behalf at the nearest regional DOLE office. The period of your AEP validity strongly depends on your work contract and on your position within the company you will be working for.

Social Security and Insurance Issues

When it comes to social security services in the Philippines, private sector employees, as well as domestic workers and the self-employed, are covered. It is possible to get voluntary coverage for insured people who are no longer eligible to receive compulsory coverage and for their spouses. Government employees and military personnel have their own insurance system.

The social security system in the Philippines covers disability and retirement benefits, maternity leave, sick leave, survivors, and work-related injuries. Additionally, you might also want to check whether there are any social security agreements between the Philippines and your home country.

Contributions you make to retirement, disability, and survivors funds while working in the Philippines also cover sickness, maternity, and funeral benefits. The contributions are as follows:


Unfortunately, as is the case with healthcare coverage, your social security coverage may not be as comprehensive as you would expect. For that reason, it may make sense for expatriates working in the Philippines to keep contributing to their social security system at home or to take out private plans.


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

InterNations Expat Magazine