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A Complete Guide to Acquiring a Work Permit in the Philippines for Foreign Nationals
Guide to Work Permit Application-min

A Complete Guide to Acquiring a Work Permit in the Philippines for Foreign Nationals

The Philippines is known as one of the fastest-growing economies in the ASEAN region, which attracts foreign investors and workers to come into the country to expand their skills and their businesses. Like many countries, the Philippines requires foreigners to apply for a work permit to legally practice their profession. 

If you are planning to do so, it is crucial to be aware of the procedures and documents needed to support your employment. To guide you in your application, we will discuss how you can obtain a work permit to start your career in the Philippines.

Types of Work Permits in the Philippines

The Philippines requires all foreign nationals to obtain a work permit and work visa before engaging in lawful employment in the country. Keep in mind that obtaining a work permit is a prerequisite before being eligible to apply for a work visa.

The most common work visa is the 9(g) or Pre-Arranged Employee Commercial Visa, which grants the holder multiple entry and exit privileges while working for a registered company in the Philippines. 

There are three types of work permits that cater to different kinds of employment in the country, namely:

  • Alien Employment Permit (AEP). The AEP applies to all foreign nationals who wish to engage in long-term employment in the Philippines. The AEP is initially valid for one to five years, depending on the employment contract’s duration, and is renewable for a maximum of five years. 
  • Special Work Permit (SWP).  The SWP allows the holder to engage in short-term employment for a duration of up to six months without the need to change their tourist status. A locally-registered company must be willing to serve as the petitioner for the holder. The approval time of the SWP usually takes 2-3 weeks.
  • Provisional Work Permit (PWP). This permit is issued to foreign nationals who wish to commence work in the Philippines while the approval of their work visa application is in progress. The permit is usually given to Temporary Visitor Visa (TVV) holders and is extendible until a work visa is approved. 

The processing time and validity of Philippine work visas can vary depending on the number of requirements and the applicant’s employment contract, unless stated otherwise.

How to Apply for a Work Permit in the Philippines

As mentioned above, the most common visa granted to foreign nationals seeking employment is the 9(g) visa. To be eligible, your hiring company must serve as your petitioner for the visa. You will also need to obtain an Alien Employment Permit (AEP) to work as a non-tourist in the Philippines. 

To obtain an AEP, employees will need to provide the following documents:

  1. A duly accomplished AEP application form
  2. Original copy of notarized employment contract and any related documents 
    1. Job description, annual salary, benefits, etc.
  3. Photocopy of employer’s valid business permit: 
    1. For CEZA-Registered and PEZA-Registered Companies (must present original copy)
      1. PEZA Registration
      2. Ecozone Authority
    2. If under Construction Company (must present original copy)
      1. Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board (PCAB) License
      2. DO 18-A Registration 
  4. Two pieces of 2×2 ID picture with white background
  5. Proof of Taxpayer’s Identification Number (TIN)
  6. Authorization Letter from the Company or Foreign National and photocopy of valid IDs

The required documents must be filed personally or through the petitioning employer at the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) regional office with an application fee of 9,000. If you are assigned to branch offices or subsidiaries, it is best to apply at the nearest field office. 

If your employer urges you to commence work before your permit or visa process is complete, you can apply for a Provisional Work Permit (PWP), which allows you to work while such documents are in process. 

Travel Restrictions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Since the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines, the government has implemented strict rules to reduce the country’s number of COVID-19 cases. Local travel restrictions, as well as border and international travel measures, have taken place.

Foreign nationals planning to work in the Philippines during the pandemic must comply with the general travel restrictions implemented by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and other respective government agencies.

Start Your Career in the Philippines

Working in the Philippines can lead to a tremendous amount of growth in your career. Its fast-growing economy and openness to innovation and internationalization cater to many brilliant minds in all industries, collaborating to make the country a better place for both local and foreign employees. 

There are many ways to apply for a work visa and permit in the Philippines, either through a representative, a prospective employer, or a visa consulting firm to assist you through your application process. 

RELATED: A Complete Guide on How to Obtain a Retirement Visa in the Philippines


  • Admin

    InCorp Philippines (Formerly Kittelson and Carpo Consulting) provides consulting and assistance to local and foreign companies starting and doing business in the Philippines. Our main areas of expertise are incorporation, business registration, fda, immigration/visas, payroll, human resources, and recruitment.

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