Shipping Household Goods (HHG) to the Philippines

I recently posted an article about Balikbayan Shipping and another article on some recently uncovered insights into balikbayan shipping discoveries and future expectations.

While you can ship just about anything that will fit into a balikbayan box, shipping larger items must be left to
a major carrier or international shipping company such as American, Allied, Mayflower, United, etc. that can handle the large items like furniture, bicycles, BBQ, grills and all that.

On many forums there seems to be a lot of confusing and misunderstood information being bantered about and can lead to some really unexpected and unfortunate situations if not fully understood. Shipping one’s household goods (HHG) to the Philippines and having to deal with customs with import taxes, storage, ad valorem, fees, etc. should be fully understood before making any decision to ship.

Myself and the asawa have been together for over 27 years and as a result have collected a mountain of “stuff” that we (she) has no desire to replace or to start collecting again. The many things we have are either too sentimental or we had to work hard for, and so we (she) has decided that everything we own (mostly) is going with us (if you didn’t know it already, Filipinas are a proud lot). Everything that means anything to us (her) has been fit into a 20′ container, and another 8′ crate. Our cost, just under $12,000 USD which includes door to door delivery, insurance, unpacking, and up to one month storage in Manila prior to delivery. We (she) felt we just couldn’t replace everything for that price so we made the decision to ship it all (okay, I did slip my kayak, tools, and three BBQ grills in there!)

In this post I will share the straight and skinny about what applies to our situation and what we are expecting once we get there. Because I am a foreigner married to a Filipino citizen, there is a full exemption for the importation of HHG as long as I hold a 13A visa. I have already applied and should be receiving it in a few days from the Philippine Consulate in Chicago. Because we live so far from the consulate (Mississippi), we have been approved to mail all our supporting documents and will complete the process with a subsequent phone interview. Once I have my 13A Visa, we will be eligible for a FULL EXEMPTION of importation of our HHG (part two below applies to my situation).

There are many different situations covered under Philippines customs and we are concerned with what is needed to avoid any unnecessary distribution of money from our pockets to somebody elses.

Below are the requirements I have just received from our Consignee (Goetz Moving & Storage) in Paranaque City, (Metro Manila) who will be receiving our goods once they arrive. They have been kind enough to outline all the following requirements as provided by Philippine law. Below, you will find different scenarios which may or not apply, but at least you will know what options might fit your circumstances.

Bureau of Customs

Bureau of Customs

 REQUIREMENTS TO BE EXEMPTED FROM CUSTOMS DUTIES AND TAXES

Part 1 – Holder of Philippine passport

FOR PHILIPPINE PASSPORT HOLDER under “Balikbayan Visa”

– Each is entitled to exemption allowance of P10,000.
– Has stayed abroad for a continuous period of six (6) months or more.
– Any excess over the total exemption allowance are subject to 50% duty and 12% tax.
– Original passport is needed – if accompanied by your family, submit their passports.
– Copy of Certificate of Employment or Residence Card

FOR DUAL CITIZENS:

 – Fully exempted from duties and taxes.
– Original Philippine and Foreign passports are needed.
– Original Certificate of Oath of Allegiance or identification Certificate.
– Copy of Proof of Residency – purchase proof of land or house property.
– Copy of Birth Certificate.
– Copy of Marriage Contract.

FOR RETURNING FILIPINO DIPLOMATS:

–  Entitled to import his used household goods and personal effects & car under the duty
& tax-free privileges pursuant to RA No. 7157.
–  Please coordinate with OPAS Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs which will
process your exemption in advance.
–  Please submit to OPAS the following documents in advance:

  • Recall of Reassignment Order (including Order of extension, if any)
  • Certified true copy of Bill of Lading
  • Inventory list of household goods and personal effects
  • Photocopy of passport (pages 1 to 4 plus arrival page)
  • Certificate of Emoluments – Statement of Salaries and Allowances for the last 4 years of tour of duty)
  • Original Car Invoice or Deed of Sale
  • Original Car Registration (w/ English translation)
  • Affidavit – regarding total value of personal effects and household goods and motor vehicle (forms available at OPAS Division)
  • Official Request for tax exemption ( to be executed at OPAS Division)
  • Certification from the office or agency that the recallee has not availed of the tax exempt privilege during the last 4 years.
  • Letter of Authorization for Broker ( to be executed at OPAS Division)

– The above docs should be submitted in 3 sets certified true copies.
– Personal appearance may be required at OPAS Division.

 Part 2  – Holder of Foreign Passport

FOR FOREIGN PASSPORT HOLDER- are fully exempted from duties and taxes. Please refer to below your appropriate visa category for the proper requirements.

For holder of 13A, 13D, 13E or 13G visa:

13(a) visa – Foreign spouse or child of a Filipino residing in the country permanently.

13(d) visa – A woman who was a previous Filipino citizen and lost her citizenship due to marriage to an alien.

13(e) visa – Returning Former Resident – alien who was previously a permanent resident and is returning from abroad to a unrelinquished residence in the Philippines

13(g) visa – Returning Former Citizens – former Filipino citizens who are returning to the Philippines for permanent residency.

Please submit the following documents:
– Original passport
– Alien Certificate of Registration card
– Copy of Proof of Residency – Purchase of land or house property
– Copy of Marriage Contract
– Copy of Birth Certificate (if former Filipino)

For holder of 9G, 47(A)2, or  EO 226 visa:

 9(g) visa – Expatriates under Pre-Arranged Employment Visa.

47(a)2 visa – Special Non-Immigrant Visa – Foreigners who work in the Philippine government projects under special contract or Exchange scholars.

EO226 – Special Resident Investor Visa – Foreign personnel of Regional or Area Headquarters or Multinational companies.

Please submit the following documents:
– Original passport
– Original Certificate of Employment – stating position and period of employment
– Employment contract – original or certified true copy
– Exemption application is valid before 90 days upon your last arrival in Phils.

For holder of SPECIAL RESIDENT RETIREE VISA: 

Please coordinate with the Philippine Retirement and Leisure Authority office and submit the following documents for their tax exemption preparation:

– Original passport with valid SRRV.
– Personal appearance may be required. 

Part 3 – Diplomatic status  

FOR DIPLOMATS OF FOREIGN EMBASSIES, CONSULAR OFFICES AND REPRESENTATIVES OF FOREIGN GOVERNMENT:  

– Importation of used household goods and personal effects and car are duty & tax-free.
Note Verbale – must be issued by your office for tax exemption of your shipment.

Part 4 – Alternative in the absence of a Visa

Alternative in case your visa is still subject for approval upon arrival of shipment is: 

Option 1 – Post a Bond

Please submit the following documents:

  1. Visa Application – with stamp of “RECEIVED” by the Bureau of Immigration. As well as the official receipt from BIR.
  2. Original passport
  3. Alien Certificate of Registration ( for permanent residents only)
  4. Copy of Marriage Contract ( for permanent residents only)
  5. Copy of Birth Certificate ( for permanent residents only, if former Filipino)
  6. Certificate of Employment (for alien executive only)
  7. Employment Contract (for alien executive only)
  8. Payment of additional fees – P10,500 for the processing, extension or cancellation of bond.

Plus: Cash bond in a form of manager or cashier’s check payable to Bureau of Customs. Bond is good for 3 months and is extendable for another 3 months. If the visa is still not approved. Customs will forfeit your cash bond if the visa is still not approved & failed to extend or is cancelled before the expiry period.

Option 2 – Pay the duties & taxes

In the absence of a visa, our last option would be to pay the assessed taxes and duties in order to release your shipment. This is non-refundable.

Part 5 –  IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER – Customs Rules and Regulations

  1. The period to file your application for Tax Exemption at the Department of Finance is within 60 days only from your last date of arrival in the Phils.
  2. For shipments without tax-exemption, the rate of duty is 30% and the rate of tax is 12% of the assessed cost and freight of shipment.
  3. For sea shipments, Customs provide only 6 days free storage period from date of arrival. 

          A. For FCL (Full Container Load) – the following charges will be charged to your account beyond the allowable free period.

Storage fee:

  • Php 270  (20’) per day per container
  • Php 570  (40’) per day per container

Demurrage fee, normal rate:

  • US $20 per 20’ container per day or
  • US $40 per 40’ container per day

(or based on existing rate of shipping line)

B. For LCL (Less Container Load) – the consolidator normally strips shipment at customs bonded warehouse outside of customs zone. Warehousing fees are being charged based on the existing rate.

4. For Air shipmentsNO free storage. The storage begins upon arrival of shipment at
a rate of Php 1.20 per kilo (chargeable weight) per day .

5. Customs will declare abandonment to shipments not cleared for 30 days or more.
Lifting of abandonment takes one week at the Legal Division of Customs and will
entail additional processing cost aside from storage fees at port.

6. Shipment is subject to physical examination

7. Village entrance fee is excluded and client must coordinate with their Admin. Office
to secure the delivery permit. Please furnish us a copy receipt or permit so we can
present to the gate upon entry of our truck with container.

8.  All shipments for delivery to islands in the Visayas & Mindanao (except Cebu &
Davao) and cleared thru Manila Customs, will be stripped from the original
container
and all packages will be re-loaded to domestic container. It is very

expensive to send the original container because you will be required to pay a
deposit of US$2,000 (refundable) and ocean freight charges of less than P50,000 to
return the empty container to Manila plus inland transportation charges from port to
final depot of P12,500.

9. We recommend that you or your representative is present during reloading of your
shipment into a domestic container to examine the container seal, quantity & quality
of items being transferred, to re-seal and padlock the domestic container.

                                          END of REQUIREMENTS

As you can see there are different sets of requirements depending on each and every situation.

Please note:  These requirements, while may be the official requirements as of the day my Consignee sent them to me, does not remove the obligation to search and obtain updated information before making any decision to ship goods to the Philippines as *requirements can change without notice*. Please visit the Philippine Customs website or call them to obtain any updated information that could affect you and your situation. In addition, you can always consult with a reputable international shippers to verify any updated information because they deal with the same requirements on a day-to-day basis.