Expats Guide: How to Register Your Startup Business Name as an Expat

Entrepreneurship is on the rise in the Philippines. With the rise of ecommerce, more and more people are legitimizing what once were side hustles into full-fledged startup businesses. New laws regarding foreign ownerships have also opened more doors for expats to run companies here.

The MSME landscape is flourishing, so if you’re thinking of taking part in its growth and have a good idea of what you want to do, you can proceed by registering a business name!


Choosing the Right Name

Before filling out an application, you have to make sure that the name you’re about to register will pass the requirements.

First off, you need to make sure that the name:

  • Dominant name – the unique name (could be your name)
  • Infix – to specify your business’ specialization
  • Business Descriptor – to specify the nature of your business

For example, your name is Ted and you want to open a pet grooming service. Your dominant name could be your name (Ted’s); inflix could be Pet, and business descriptor would be Salon. Ted’s Pet Salon!


Business names that cannot be registered contain words that:

  • Are illegal, offensive, or contrary to propriety
  • Are too similar to registered names
  • Are entirely generic or location-based words
  • Cannot be appropriated by law
  • Suggests quality or class of goods/services
  • Are names or abbreviations of nations or international government institutions or organizations
  • Are not in line with the actual nature of business


Registering Your Business Name


Sole Proprietorship: Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)

For aspiring solopreneurs, you have to lodge your application with the Department of Trade and Industry. This will give you the exclusive right to use the particular business name.

You can get application forms online through their official website or at DTI offices.

For your convenience, you can reserve your prefered name online through the Philippine Business Registry website.


Step-by-Step Guide to Register via DTI Online

1.    Create an account and log in

Simply supply some information like your name, preferred username, and email address. You will be sent a password to use for log-in.

2.    Decide on your business’ scope

You have 4 options and their corresponding rates:

  • Barangay – ₱200
  • City/Municipality – ₱500
  • Regional – ₱1,000
  • National – ₱2,000

This determines what scale your business can operate on. For example, if you’re running a restaurant in Quezon City and choose City/Municipality, you can’t put up a branch elsewhere without having to go through the whole registration process again in the target area.

3.    Check name availability

Make sure that the name you put in conforms with the requirements stated above. Do note that even if the system shows your proposed name as available, the DTI still has the last say about its usability, so you’ll know the final verdict when you submit physical copies of the registration at a DTI office.

4.    Fill in your details

Type in all the info needed. Note that you’re required to have a Tax Identification Number.

5.    Pay

You have the option to pay offline via a DTI Teller or over-the-counter at any Landbank branch, or online via GCash or Bancnet.

6.    Print out certificate

Once your payment has been confirmed, you will be issued a printable certificate as well as a TRN number. Make sure to print both of these out as they will only be issued once.

7.    Submit to DTI office

Go to the nearest DTI office or Negosyo Center to submit your documents and get a Certificate of Registration.


Documents you need to prepare:

  • Two (2) filled out and signed copies of the application form or print-out of BN Certificate after online reservation.
  • Government-issued national ID with photo and signature
  • Clear, certified true copy of Certificate of Authority to engage in business in the Philippines


Partnerships and Corporations: Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

If you want to put up a local branch of an existing foreign company, or if you simply want to go into business with one or more other people, you can lodge your business name registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


Step-by-Step Guide to Using SEC’s Company Registration System

1.    Create an account and log in

Fill in your personal details and wait for the account activation email. Click the link in the email and log in.

2.    Register new company

You will see this button on the left toolbar. Click this.

3.    Choose your business’ type, classification, industry, and subclass

Is it a stock or non-stock company? What kind of corporation is it? What is the percentage of foreign ownership (max 40%)? Which industry does your business fall under? What is your specific product or service?

4.    Verify and confirm your proposed company name and suffix

This is case-sensitive, so be careful.

5.    Select SEC office to process application

Online registrations are more like reservations, so you still need to hand in all the pertaining documents to an SEC office.


You will need notarized copies of the following documents:

  • Cover Sheet
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Treasurer’s Affidavit
  • By-laws
  • Others

These documents will be automatically generated by the system based on the information you input in the earlier stages. You can print them out, sign them, and scan and upload notarized copies. If you wish to create your own documents, that’s okay too.


Note that these processes are simply the first steps towards registering your business. To have a complete idea of the laws applicable to expats, we recommend perusing the official government sites of DTI and SEC.









Expats in the Philipppines

Expats in the Philipppines

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