Legal Requirements for Establishing a Branch Office of a Foreign Corporation in the Philippines

Establishing a branch office in the Philippines allows foreign corporations to directly engage in business activities in the country. However, this process involves navigating a complex set of legal requirements and regulatory procedures. As a Filipino lawyer, I will outline the key legal requirements and steps necessary to establish a branch office of a foreign corporation in the Philippines.

Understanding a Branch Office

A branch office is an extension of a foreign corporation and not a separate legal entity. It is allowed to engage in the same activities as its parent company and is subject to Philippine laws and regulations. Unlike a subsidiary, a branch office’s liabilities are not limited and can extend to the foreign parent company.

Legal Requirements for Establishing a Branch Office

  1. Name Verification and Reservation

Requirement: Ensure that the branch office’s name is unique and not similar to any existing registered business name. Process:

  • Name Reservation: Conduct a name search and reserve the desired business name through the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) online portal.
  1. Application for a License to Do Business

Requirement: Obtain a License to Do Business from the SEC. Documents Needed:

  • Application Form: Duly accomplished SEC Form F-104 (Application of a Foreign Corporation to Establish a Branch Office).
  • Board Resolution: A certified copy of the board resolution from the parent company authorizing the establishment of the branch office and appointing a resident agent in the Philippines.
  • Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws: Certified copies of the parent company’s Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws.
  • Financial Statements: Audited financial statements of the parent company for the preceding year, authenticated by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate in the parent company’s home country.
  • Resident Agent’s Acceptance: Written acceptance by the resident agent to act on behalf of the branch office.
  • Proof of Inward Remittance: Proof of inward remittance of the minimum capital requirement.
  1. Minimum Capital Requirement

Requirement: The minimum capital requirement for a branch office is USD 200,000. This can be reduced to USD 100,000 if the branch office will involve advanced technology or will employ at least 50 direct employees. Process:

  • Inward Remittance: Remit the required capital to a local bank in the Philippines and obtain a Certificate of Inward Remittance.
  1. Resident Agent

Requirement: Appoint a resident agent who will act on behalf of the branch office and receive legal notices and processes. Considerations:

  • Eligibility: The resident agent can be an individual who is a resident of the Philippines or a domestic corporation authorized to act as an agent.
  1. Registration with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)

Requirement: Register the branch office with the BIR to obtain a Tax Identification Number (TIN) and register for other tax-related requirements. Process:

  • BIR Form 1903: Submit the duly accomplished BIR Form 1903 (Application for Registration for Corporations/Partnerships) along with supporting documents.
  • Tax Types: Register for the applicable tax types such as income tax, value-added tax (VAT), and withholding tax.
  1. Local Business Permits

Requirement: Secure necessary local business permits and licenses from the local government unit (LGU) where the branch office will operate. Process:

  • Barangay Clearance: Obtain a Barangay Clearance from the local barangay office.
  • Mayor’s Permit: Apply for a Mayor’s Permit from the city or municipal hall. This typically involves submitting the SEC registration, lease contract, and other required documents.
  1. Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG) Registration

Requirement: Register the branch office with SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG to comply with employee benefit requirements. Process:

  • SSS Registration: Submit the SSS Form R-1 (Employer Registration Form) and other required documents.
  • PhilHealth Registration: Submit the Employer Data Record (ER1) and other required documents.
  • Pag-IBIG Registration: Submit the Employer’s Data Form (M1-1) and other required documents.

Steps to Establish a Branch Office

  1. Prepare Documentation

Step: Gather and prepare all required documents for SEC submission. Actions:

  • Ensure all documents are authenticated and duly certified.
  • Prepare the application form and supporting documents.
  1. Submit Application to the SEC

Step: Submit the application for a License to Do Business to the SEC. Actions:

  • File the application along with the required documents.
  • Pay the necessary filing fees.
  1. SEC Review and Approval

Step: Wait for the SEC to review and approve the application. Actions:

  • Respond promptly to any additional information or clarification requests from the SEC.
  • Obtain the Certificate of Registration and License to Do Business upon approval.
  1. Register with the BIR and LGUs

Step: Complete the registration with the BIR and local government units. Actions:

  • Register for a TIN and other tax types with the BIR.
  • Secure Barangay Clearance and Mayor’s Permit.
  1. Set Up Operations

Step: Finalize the operational setup of the branch office. Actions:

  • Open a corporate bank account.
  • Hire employees and ensure compliance with labor and employment regulations.
  • Set up the physical office space and necessary infrastructure.

Best Practices for Compliance

  1. Engage Legal and Accounting Professionals

    • Work with experienced legal and accounting professionals to ensure compliance with all regulatory requirements and to handle complex legal and tax matters.
  2. Maintain Accurate Records

    • Keep accurate and up-to-date records of all transactions, regulatory filings, and compliance documents to facilitate audits and regulatory reviews.
  3. Regular Compliance Audits

    • Conduct regular internal compliance audits to ensure ongoing adherence to local laws and regulations. Address any compliance issues promptly.
  4. Stay Informed

    • Stay updated on changes in Philippine laws and regulations that may impact the branch office’s operations. Regularly review and update internal policies and procedures.


Establishing a branch office of a foreign corporation in the Philippines involves navigating a detailed regulatory landscape. By understanding the legal requirements and following a structured process, foreign corporations can successfully set up and operate a branch office in the country.

Navigating the business landscape in the Philippines can be both rewarding and intricate. Whether you’re embarking on a new venture or scaling up, ensuring that your corporate endeavors are in line with local regulations is paramount.

At CBOS Business Solutions Inc., we pride ourselves on simplifying these processes for our clients. As a seasoned professional services company, we offer comprehensive assistance with SEC Registration, Visa processing, and a myriad of other essential business requirements. Our team of experts is dedicated to ensuring that your business is compliant, well-established, and ready to thrive in the Philippine market.

Why venture into the complexities of business registration and compliance alone? Allow our team to guide you every step of the way. After all, your success is our commitment.

Get in touch today and let us be your partner in achieving your business goals in the Philippines.

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