Alien Employment Permit vs Special Work Permit in the Philippines

Learn about the different options for work permits in the Philippines.

The Philippines offers a variety of different work permit options, and it can be challenging to understand which one is the right choice for your case.

One example is deciding between an Alien Employment Permit and Special Work Permit — these have similar names and functions but are targeted for very different cases of foreign employment in the Philippines.

Below, we’ve summarized the key characteristics and differences of both, for your consideration.



Who needs an Alien Employment Permit?

An Alien Employment Permit (AEP) is the most common work permit required for foreign nationals who intend to engage in gainful employment in the Philippines.

The Philippines defines “gainful employment” as an employer-employee relationship between a Philippine-based employer and the foreign employee.

This means that you need to already have an employer in the Philippines to apply for an AEP. You can get your work permit after you’ve confirmed a position in a company that’s willing to sponsor you.

This also means that your AEP is tied to your position and your employer. If you change jobs or get a different position in your current company, you’ll have to arrange for a new AEP.

Also note that certain categories of employees, such as foreign diplomats and visiting educators, don’t need to get work permits. You can consult a trusted immigration agency to find out how to define your work according to Philippines regulations.


Also read: Learn what types of businesses foreigners are allowed to fully own in the Philippines


Who needs a Special Work Permit?

A Special Work Permit (SWP) is a permit option for foreigners who are planning short term assignments or employment for up to six months.

Usually, this category includes:

  • Professional athletes visiting and competing only for a limited period
  • Foreign nationals performing emergency or special-case temporary services
  • Artists, musicians, and other performers including supporting staff

However, keep in mind that you will need a sponsorship from a company registered in the Philippines. In most cases, this should be the company planning to employ you — in cases of athletes and artists, it would be the organizers or promoters of the event you are attending.

This means that you cannot get an SWP as a “temporary” permit while you are freelancing or looking for a job in the Philippines.


Also read: Essential tips to incorporate a company in the Philippines


Which option should I take?

It depends on your intentions and arrangement with your employer about working in the Philippines.

In both cases, you will need a company in the Philippines which has already committed to employing you. You’ll need to have a clear idea about your:

  • Position
  • Terms of employment
  • Duties and responsibilities
  • Salary and benefits

However, the main difference is duration.

If you plan to work full-time in a long-term position in the Philippines, the most common option would be an Alien Employment Permit. This permit lasts for a year or more, depending on your contract. An AEP is also a requirement to get a 9G pre-arranged employee visa, which allows you to legally work in the Philippines.

If you plan on working in the Philippines for less than six months, the more common option is a Special Work Permit. You’ll still need an employer in the Philippines, so this is an option if you have short-term contract work, or if you work in an international company and have projects or meetings with the local branch of your company.

However, the best option for you will still depend on your exact case. In any situation, the safest option would be to consult a trusted immigration service provider, let them know your needs, and get their recommendations.


Want to expand your team with foreign employees in the Philippines?

Greenhouse can connect you to pre-screened service providers to help apply for permits and visas for your team members in the Philippines. Learn more about our solutions.


Disclaimer: This content is intended for educational purposes only and should not be taken as legal instructions. You should contact consultants in your target markets before making decisions related to incorporation or service execution.

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