Can A Foreigner Or An Expat Own A Gun In The Philippines?

Can A Foreigner Own A Gun In The Philippines?

no guns sign


This article is not legal advice and details personal opinions regarding how Philippine firearm laws apply to a foreigner living in the Philippines. No guarantee is made about the accuracy or factual nature of any information found in this article. 

Furthermore, there is a lot of:

 "my Filipino in-law, Filipino friend, expat friend, etc... who is a policeman, police chief, attorney, general know-it-all, etc... says that it is perfectly legal for me to own a pistol/shotgun/airsoft/etc..." 

If you want to go with what some supposed authority tells you without seeing what they tell you with your own two eyes in the codified law, then by all means go ahead and trust that person. The annals of sad stories in the Philippines is full of episodes that begin like that. Be sure to post your miserable outcome online (if you live through it) so others can learn from your mistake.

As an expat living in the Philippines one should err on the side of caution. Taking bad advice just because it is the answer that you want to hear is the opposite of being cautious.

Table Of Contents

Many Foreigners Are Curious About Owning A Gun In The Philippines 

America is still gun country for the time being and when Americans leave their home for foreign shores more than a few of them understandably wonder about the gun laws of the place in which they will make their new home. 

And it is not just Americans. 

This post has had readers from all over the world. They all want to know if they can possess a firearm in the Philippines and the answer to that question is very simple. 

It Is Illegal For Foreigners To Possess Firearms In The Philippines

REPUBLIC ACT No. 10591, the Philippines’ comprehensive firearms and ammunition law, is very clear on this matter: 
ARTICLE II OWNERSHIP AND POSSESSION OF FIREARMS - Section 4. Standards and Requisites for Issuance of and Obtaining a License to Own and Possess Firearms. – In order to qualify and acquire a license to own and possess a firearm or firearms and ammunition, the applicant must be a Filipino citizen, at least twenty-one (21) years old and has gainful work, occupation or business or has filed an Income Tax Return (ITR) for the preceding year as proof of income, profession, business or occupation. 
“applicant must be a Filipino citizen” 

That is the final word on foreigners and firearms in the Philippines. I cannot have one. Period. And neither can you unless you are a Filipino. 

People may bring a gun to you offering to sell or even “loan” it to you for cash. I would not even touch a firearm that someone presents to me nor would it enter my house. 

One of the first things that I did when I came into the country was apply for an ACR-I card in connection with my Visa. Part of that process was recording of my biometric data, including all fingerprints. If I touch a gun that later turns up at a crime scene and they lift my prints from that weapon do you think that what happens next will be positive for me? I would not take the risk. 

I stay away from all firearms, since I am an foreigner living in the Philippines and I do not want to jeopardize my visa. If I really thought that I needed one, then it might be time to think about returning to the US instead. 

Laws For Pneumatic Rifles

Some foreigners may then wonder whether it is within the law for them to possess a pneumatic rifle. PNP Circular No 11 speaks to the issue. I found countless legal cases and such on official Philippine websites that quote and otherwise make reference to PNP Circular No 11, but the only site that I found which quotes the entire document is a military combat re-enactment group called Force Recon Airsoft Group, Inc. Excerpts from the document are as follows:
V Restriction: Airsoft rifle/pistol as herein classified as special type of air gun, shall be used in sporting activities such as war game simulation only. All airsoft rifle/pistol shall not exceed 550 feet per second velocity using t .20 gram BB. Otherwise, and airsoft rifle/pistol exceeding the prescribed limit shall not be eligible for registration. 

VIII Registration: Any person who desires to possess airsoft rifle/pistol shall file his application in accordance with PNP SOP Number 13 entitled “Licensing of Firearms” except that minimum age shall be 18 years of age for airsoft rifle/pistol. The one time registration for airgun shall be applied to airsoft rifle/pistol. In case of transfer of ownership to a qualified citizen the required procedure in the transfer of regular air gun shall apply. A licensed airsoft rifle/pistol holder shall not transfer physical possession of his registered airsoft rifle/pistol until the application for license to possess airsoft rifle/pistol is approved by FED-CSG.
PNPCircular No 11 
PNP SOP Number 13 entitled “Licensing of Firearms” follows the requirements set forth in REPUBLIC ACT No. 10591, which state that only a Filipino citizen may be licensed to own a firearm. And since an application to own an airsoft rifle must be filed IAW PNP SOP No. 13 , foreigners do not qualify under the law. 

 And, as Paragraph V of Circular No 11 states, airsoft rifles can only be used for “sporting events.” They cannot be used to scare away stray dogs. Is there any other use that a foreigner in the Philippines would have for it? 

There Is Hope For Foreign Gun Lovers In The Philippines

If you are really suffering from gunpowder withdrawals, then you can go to a firing range and rent one of their weapons for use on premises. They have many of them in the Philippines, like the SkyRange Shooting Club in Manila

You may be able to attend an airsoft event where you can rent an airsoft rifle for use on premises. I have not done it and I do not know anyone who has, but it seems that you should be able to, since you can fire real guns at the firing ranges. 

The Bottom Line

I understand the 2nd Amendment mindset. I totally get it. I love it. But it does not apply in the Philippines. My family does not drink or party. We do not care for night life or gossip. We live a quiet life. Living in the province helps, though it is not so remote and not always quiet. From time to time there are those who try to blow out their amplifiers until 6 AM. We steer clear of those affairs. 

In ten years of living in the Philippines we have never encountered a situation that could have been even remotely helped with a gun. In all that time no one ever bothered our home even when we were away for days. Maybe we just picked a very special and unique place to live. 

I cannot speak about other places too much, but in our limited encounters with Cebu, Iloilo and Manila we have never had a problem, except for the one time when, while standing in line, a woman stuck her hand in my wife’s purse. My wife was more than capable of dealing with her. 

Of course, bad things do happen in the Philippines, but here, as in the US or anywhere, gun violence tends to follow predictable behavioral patterns. Most violent crime is not random. Bad decisions and foolishness are the root of why most victims become victims. Countless research studies prove it. It is not always the case. 

Random crime does happen and so does opportunistic crime, but opportunistic crime is not random. When you flash cash or fail to take necessary steps to conceal your wealth or secure your belongings or residence, then you are setting yourself up to become a victim of opportunistic crime. 

When you are not aware of your environment you bear a responsibility for that. Be aware of your environment and be discrete as much as possible and the opportunistic criminal will pass you up and look for another more easily taken mark.

But if you decide to carry a firearm in the Philippines, then enjoy prison and or the cemetery. 

That is your most likely destination.



Mike said...

Are there any special exceptions that allow a foreigner to possess a firearm in the Philippines?

Anonymous said...

There may be some exceptions, but (IMHO) none that apply to the average Joe. And 99.999% of us are average Joes. I think if you are in one of those exception categories that your employer and or government contact(s) would be explaining the ins and outs of this matter to you.

Joon said...

Buy your Filipino wife a gun. At least 9mm. Get her trained at the range. Kids too if they are citizens and 21 years of age or older. Make sure you get them licensed and make sure that you keep the license up.

If anyone breaks in, the foreigner is not the one who shot them. Got that?

Anonymous said...

Joon. nonsense. Fingerprints, powder residue, or your wife or family member do not want to take the rap for you, not to mention a witness you were unaware of. Risky recommendation for anyone to follow.

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