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 contains personal experiences regarding how Philippine firearm laws apply to a foreigner living in the Philippines.

Table Of Contents:

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.

You may hear people say things like:

    "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..."

Or they may tell you that the law is rarely enforced.

Firearm Possession Is Illegal For Foreigners 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.

Pneumatic Rifles

Some foreigners wonder whether it is within the law for them to possess a pneumatic rifle. 

PNP Circular No 11 points us toward the answer:
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.
PNP SOP No. 13, referred to in paragraph VIII above, is entitled “Licensing of Firearms” and flows from the requirements set forth in Republic Act No. 10591, which state that only a Filipino citizen may be licensed to own a firearm. Since an application to own an airsoft rifle must be filed in accordance with PNP SOP No. 13 , foreigners do not qualify under the law.

Additionally, 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?

Public Firing Range Gun Rental

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. You may be able to attend an airsoft event where you can rent an airsoft rifle for use on premises.

However, if foreigners continue to use firing ranges and gun shops as their suicide solution, then Philippines may stop allowing foreigners to patronize them.

The Bottom Line

I understand the 2nd Amendment mindset. I totally get it. I love it. But it does not apply in the Philippines. 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 of that time we have only had a couple of very minor incidents at our home.

Bad things do happen in the Philippines, but here, as in the US (which is getting more dangerous each passing minute) 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.

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 and be discrete 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.