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The Philippine peso (PhP) is fully convertible and can be freely exchanged for foreign currency outside of the banking system. There are no restrictions on sending money to the Philippines or carrying foreign currency into or transferring money out of the Philippines.
Travellers carrying currency over a value of US$10,000 must declare this to customs authorities in accordance with the country’s 2001 Anti-Money Laundering Act. Under the same act, all financial transfers that exceed a value of PhP400,000 are reported to the Anti-Money Laundering Council. Local currency may not be removed in amounts over PhP10,000 without express approval from the central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
The BSP requires that approval be sought for certain operations in order to monitor the stock of foreign currency assets in the banking sector. For example, foreign investments must be registered with the BSP, and it reserves the right to approve foreign loans that will be repaid or repatriated in foreign currency. The amount of foreign currency that residents are able to purchase to transfer money abroad are subject to certain thresholds depending on the type of transaction; we recommend consulting the BSP forex regulations for the most up-to-date information.
The central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, is in charge of setting the country’s monetary policy, maintaining price stability and monitoring the health of the financial system, including the foreign exchange market. Today, the Philippine peso is on a free-float system, and the central bank’s policy is to intervene only to prevent episodes of excessive foreign exchange volatility.
Property ownership is relatively unrestricted, although foreign land ownership is not permitted except in cases of inheritance. However, foreign investors in the Philippines can lease private land for up to 50 years.
Domestic firms must pay taxes on their worldwide income, while foreign corporations are taxed only on income generated within the Philippines. The same corporate income tax rate, 30%, is imposed on both foreign and domestic firms. Resident foreign firms, including Philippines-based branches of international companies, are also subject to a 15% levy on post-tax profits that are remitted from the Philippines office to the headquarters. The government has signed 40 double taxation agreements with countries around the world.
The Philippines is a high-volume country for foreign exchange on several levels, ranging from personal remittances to institutional investment. The country is one of the largest recipients of remittances in the world, thanks to an estimated 4m or more Filipinos working abroad. The Philippines has also attracted a rising level of foreign investment in the last five years, as its limited economic integration broadly shielded from the worst effects of the global economic crisis since 2008. Its stock market registered the second-best performance in Asia in 2012. Given the economy’s reliance on foreign capital, the government has significantly its relaxed currency controls since 2007 and established a conducive environment for investment.
The country’s monetary unit, the Philippine peso, is made up of 100 sentimos. Banknotes are available in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 pesos. The PhP5 and PhP10 banknotes have been discontinued, but they are still legal tender. Coins are minted in values of PhP1, PhP5 and PhP10, as well as 1, 5, 10 and 25 sentimos.
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