The ultimate guide for Americans to hire a virtual assistant in the Philippines
Busy entrepreneurs, executives, small business owners, and the self-employed appreciate the help of personal assistants in keeping on top of administrative tasks, so they can focus on driving revenue. It’s not surprising that as the remote work trend soars, business people of all stripes are turning to virtual assistants (VAs) who support them from overseas.
The Philippines is one of the top places that people turn to hire a VA. Most of the population there is well-educated, digitally native, and speaks English, and the country is well known for its strong work ethic. Thanks to differences in the cost of living, you can cut expenses while still paying your VA a good wage with benefits. VA positions are attractive for Filipinos and there are a number of websites that help you connect with experienced Filipino VAs, either as contractors or as remote employees.
If you’re considering hiring a virtual assistant in the Philippines, we’ve gathered all you need to know before you get started.
Where should you look for a VA in the Philippines?
There are two main ways to hire a VA in the Philippines: either through an online job board, or through an agency.
Hiring through a job board, like OnlineJobs.ph or Upwork, is much like finding any freelancer or remote employee to work for you. You look at the profiles of different VAs who are available to work, and pick one who you think will match your needs and work style. It’s entirely up to you to negotiate issues like salary, benefits, work hours, and VA responsibilities.
When you use an agency, you’ll see a shortlist of VAs who are recommended for your needs. You’ll generally talk with the agency about compensation and responsibilities instead of to the VA directly, and usually, you’ll pay the agency and the agency then pays the VA. The agency also takes responsibility for tracking the VA’s work hours.
There’s no clear advantages in going through either an agency or an online jobs board. Each one has its pros and cons, and your choice depends on your own preferences. In both cases, you’ll have to make sure that your new VA has the skills you need, or else train them yourself, and the VA often uses their home computer and internet connection, which could be a security issue.
The pros and cons of using a job board
- You’ll typically pay less, because you aren’t also paying an agency for their role
- You’ll have more control over the working relationship because you talk to the VA directly
- It’s up to you to vet each applicant and decide if they have the skills you need
- Some VAs might overpromise or have more than one client without telling you, which can affect their availability for you
- You might need to provide them with equipment, like a computer and fast internet connection, as well as the software you use
- If it doesn’t work out, you’ll have to begin your VA search all over again
- You’re responsible for all the issues of payment
The pros and cons of using an agency
- The agency vets applicants for you, so there should be a base level of skills
- If it doesn’t work out, the agency will suggest another VA
- The agency should ensure that each applicant already has a computer, although you would need to provide subscriptions to specific software that you use
- The agency should tell you if your VA has more than one client
- You’ll have to pay fees to the agency
- The agency could interfere with forming a direct relationship with the VA
- You’ll still need to check if the VA has the skills you need
- If you’ve invested in training a VA, you want to feel that they are committed to working for you and not for the agency
- If your VA has more than one client, they might overpromise
The best job platforms for hiring a VA in the Philippines
OnlineJobs.ph is the country’s top job board, with 1 million resumes, so there are plenty of potential VAs. It offers all kinds of outsourced services, not just VA jobs, so you’ll have to search carefully to find the right fit.
You can search the resumes that are already posted on the site, or write your own job description and invite people to apply. Then you interview applicants and agree to terms with them. OnlineJobs has a payment portal you can use to manage paying salary and benefits.
OnlineJobs has Free, Pro, and Premium plans, but only the paid plans let you communicate with applicants.
The Pro plan costs $69/month, and you can post up to 3 job descriptions, contact up to 75 workers, and use OnlineJobs’ time tracking and payment tools.
The Premium plan costs $99/month, and you can post up to 10 job descriptions, contact up to 500 workers, run background checks, and use the OnlineJobs VA mentoring service as well as its time tracking and payment tools.
OnlineJobs doesn’t give a recommended hourly rate, because it’s up to you to negotiate a fair wage with your VA, but it does give advice about how to decide on how much to pay. Depending on the skills and experience of your VA, it suggests anything between $350—$800 per month.
Upwork is a well-known international jobs board with a dedicated site for the Philippines. Upwork users offer a range of skills, so you’ll need to search specifically for a VA, but it does mean that you can look for someone with skills or experience in specific verticals to better match your needs.
You can browse resumes already posted on Upwork to find one that seems like a good match, or post a job description and let Upwork’s algorithm’s suggest the best talent. Upwork also offers talent scouts who will help you find the best professional VA.
Upwork doesn’t offer paid plans any more; instead, you’ll pay a fee of 3%-5%, depending on your country and payment method, on every payment you make through Upwork. That means you can browse all Upwork resumes, invite up to 30 workers to work for you, and use Upwork’s reporting tools for free. But there are extra fees for different activities, like if you want to post a Featured Job you’ll pay $29.99.
The hourly rate you’ll pay a VA from Upwork varies depending on their skills and experience. You’ll see each person’s typical hourly rate on their profile, so you can decide before you get in touch, but rates begin at $7/hour and go up to $20/hour or more.
Like OnlineJobs.ph, VirtualStaff.ph is a Philippines-focused job board for people who want to outsource to workers in the Philippines. It includes many kinds of outsourced positions, so you’ll need to filter the resumes that come up, but there are lots and lots of experienced VAs waiting to be hired.
You can browse profiles, post a job opening, and message people potential VAs directly. It’s up to you to interview jobseekers and find someone who meets your needs and matches your work style. VirtualStaff offers a payment platform within the site, and asks that you always use it to pay your VA. There’s no payment processing fee, and you aren’t responsible for paying the VA’s healthcare or taxes.
VirtualStaff doesn’t charge anything for you to use the site or to pay your VA. It’s up to you how much you agree to pay your VA, but the hourly rate begins at $3/hour for entry-level VAs, up to around $10/hour for more experienced ones.
The best VA agencies in the Philippines
HelloRache is a family-owned agency that helps people in medical professions find healthcare VAs. All the potential VAs who work through HelloRache have a medical background, undergo HIPAA training, and are given background training so they can use any healthcare EMR.
To find a VA with HelloRache, you look through the profiles of available VAs, interview whoever seems like a good match, and choose who to hire. HelloRache offers secure video conferencing for you to use to connect your VA to your system, and you can agree on a daily or weekly work schedule.
HelloRache ensures employers can work consistently with the same VA, promises to help you find the right match if your VA isn’t “perfect,” and offers weekly contracts.
You’ll pay a flat fee of $9.50 per hour for your HelloRache VA.
Athena is a very hands-on VA agency that focuses on helping employers find the right assistance for a long term work partnership. Athena gives training to its VAs, and also offers advice for employers about what they can delegate to their VA.
Instead of a range of profiles for you to browse, Athena invites you to complete a comprehensive form describing what you need in a VA, and they will suggest someone who will be a good fit for you.
According to Athena, you’ll pay your VA around $3,000 a month, but it’s not clear what fees it charges or what the estimated hourly rate would be.
Cyberbacker focuses on building a community of online remote assistants, called Cyberbackers in a variety of roles. It interviews all the VAs that work through the agency, evaluates their skills and experience, and provides ongoing training as well as regular events and activities for its VAs.
There’s no way to browse the profiles of Cyberbackers — to hire a VA through the company, you need to get in touch directly and explain what you are looking for.
Contact the company to find out their pricing.
What is the regulatory and tax framework for American payers?
Before you hire a virtual assistant in the Philippines, you need to check how it could affect your regulatory and tax compliance. It’s best to get advice from a legal and/or financial expert, but the good news is that according to American employment laws, your Philippines-based VA is considered a foreign contractor, not an employee. That means that you don’t need to file any tax documentation like 1099, W-2, or other forms on their behalf in the US.
Your Filipino VA is responsible for their own tax obligations in the Philippines, so you don’t have to worry about that end either. Depending on the circumstances, you might have to withhold 0-10% income tax from their pay and transfer it to the government, but if you use an agency or pay through an online jobs payment platform, they will take care of this for you.
It’s recommended that you get your VA to sign a W-8BEN form, which says that they are a foreign person getting payment from the US for their services. It’s also a good idea to get them to type and sign a statement saying that they are working only in the Philippines and not in the US at all. It’s useful in case you get audited, but it’s not something you have to do.
If you are an S corporation or LLC, you’ll need to include payments to your Filipino VA as a business expense on your 1120S form. Payments to Filipino VAs are deductible business expenses reported on Page 1 as “Other deductions.” Type up all your other business expenses on an “attached statement,” and include payments to your VA in the list.
What is the best way to pay your VA in the Philippines
As a payer, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your weekly or monthly payments arrive on time and don’t cause your VA any unnecessary hassle or extra fees. When you have a reputation for smooth, easy to manage, and on time cross-border payments, you’ll find it much easier to hire the best remote talent.
Fortunately, Payoneer can help. Payoneer makes it easy to send payments or respond to a payment request from over 190 countries. It offers batch payments and automated payments, and you can either use your Payoneer balance, or connect your credit card or US or Canadian bank account, so you’ll never be late for payday or stuck without funds to make a payment.
When you use Payoneer, your Philippines-based VAs will be able to choose whether to keep the money in their Payoneer account to use it for their own online expenses, use their Payoneer card to pay transactions without fees, or withdraw it to their local bank account or G-Cash account at low fees. They can also use the Payoneer card to withdraw money in USD, PHP, or one of 150+ currencies at ATMs worldwide at competitive rates.
Payoneer also helps you save money when paying your VA in the Philippines. It’s free to make a payment in most currencies, and you’ll pay only 1% if you’re sending payment in USD. In contrast, you’ll pay fees of 3-5% if you use PayPal and other alternative payment solutions. Conversion fees for paying contractors are only 2% with Payoneer, but 4-6% if you used your local bank.
Hiring a VA in the Philippines is easier with Payoneer
Recruiting a VA from the Philippines can be a great way to make your workload lighter and free up your time to focus on your bottom line. Payoneer makes it all go even more smoothly by offering simple, streamlined, low-cost ways for you to pay your Filipino VAs, so you can concentrate on building a good working relationship and growing your business.
 According to eligibility and current Payoneer offering