Importing into the Philippines is straight forward with the guidelines provided by the Bureau of Customs. We explain the importation classifications and the basic requirements for importation.
The importation of certain commodities into the Philippines is either regulated, restricted or prohibited for reasons of public health and safety, national security, international commitments and development/rationalization of local industry. Imports are classified into the following:
- Free Importation and Exportation – refers to goods that may be freely imported into and exported from the Philippines without the need for import and export permits, clearances or licenses (unless otherwise provided by law or regulation). (Chapter 3, Section 116 Customs Modernization and Tariff Act [CMTA])
- Regulated Importation and Exportation – goods which are subject to regulation can only be imported or exported after securing the necessary declaration, clearances, licenses, and any other requirements prior to importation. For importation, submission of requirements after arrival of the goods, but prior to release from customs custody, will only be allowed in cases provided for by governing laws or regulations (Chapter 3, Section 117 CMTA). Examples of regulated imports are: food, drugs, cosmetics and medical devices regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
- Restricted Importation and Exportation – except when authorized by law or regulation, the importation and exportation of restricted goods listed in Chapter 3, Section 119 of the CMTA are prohibited. Examples of restricted imports are habit forming chemicals/substances such as opium, marijuana, heroin and other narcotic and synthetic drugs.
- Prohibited Importation and Exportation – the importation and exportation of goods listed in Chapter 3, Section 118 of the CMTA are prohibited. Examples of prohibited imports are adulterated or misbranded food, drug, cosmetics, devices or goods for human consumption in violation of relevant laws and regulations. The list of regulated Import Commodities and their Administering Agencies can be viewed in the Philippine National Trade Repository.
Documentation Required for Importation
The printout of the Single Administrative Document (SAD) signed by both the declarant and the customs broker(and if applicable, duly notarized), must be submitted to the Formal Entry Division (FED) or its equivalent office or unit, with the following documents:
1. Duly endorsed Bill of Landing or Airway Bill, or certification by the carrier or agent of the vessel or aircraft;
2. Commercial Invoice, Letter of Credit or any other verifiable commercial document evidencing payment. In cases where there is no sale for export, a commercial document indicating the commercial value of the goods is required;
3. Packing List
4. Duly notarized Supplemental Declaration on Valuation (SDV);
5. Documents that may be required by specific rules and regulations, such as:
1. Import Permit or Clearance (Ex. FDA LTO, CPR, NTC permit, DDB Exemption);
2. Authority to Release Imported Goods (ATRIG);
3. Proof of Origin for Free Trade Agreements (FTAs);
4. Copy of an Advance Ruling, if the ruling was used in the goods declaration;
5. Load Port Survey Reports or Discharge Port Survey Reports for bulk or break bulk importations;
6. Document evidencing exemption from duties and taxes;
7. Others, e.g., Tax Credit Certificate (TCC) or Tax Debit Memo (TDM).
Lodgement of Goods Declarations.
Those authorized to lodge a goods declaration or make an import entry are as follows:
a) The importer, being the holder of the bill of landing or airway bill. If the importer is a juridical person, they may authorize a responsible officer of the company to sign the goods declaration on their behalf. For a corporation, the responsible officer must be authorized by the Board of Directors to sign as the declarant on its behalf. For a partnership, the responsible officer must be authorized by the partners. For sole proprietorship, the responsible officer must be authorized by the owner, who shall issue a Special Power of Attorney (SPA).
b) A customs broker acting under the authority of the importer or holder of the bill; or
c) A person duly empowered to act as agent or attorney-in-fact for each holder of the bill. The duly notarized power of attorney should be approved by the Port Collector. No more than signing power may be accepted.
Period Within Which to Lodge.
A goods declaration must be lodged within (15) days from the date of discharge of the last package from the vessel or aircraft. The period to lodge the goods declaration may upon request, be extended on valid grounds for another fifteen (15) days subject to the approval of the District Collector. The request must be made before the expiration of the original period to lodge the goods declaration. The period for lodgement of the goods declaration may be adjusted by the Commissioner.
Goods Liable to Duties and Taxes.
All goods, when imported into the Philippines, shall be subject to duty upon importation. These include goods previously exported from the Philippines, except for the following:
- Those that are conditionally tax and/or duty-exempt importations under section 800, Chapter 1, Title VIII of the CMTA;
- Those considered as De Minimis importations;
- Importations of books under the Florence Agreement;
- Other tax privileges granted by law;
- Importations under the Customs Bonded Warehousing Systems; and
- Importations intended for free port zones.
When Importation Begins and when it is deemed Terminated.
Importation begins when the carrying vessel or aircraft enters the Philippine Territory with the intention to unload therein. Importation is deemed to be terminated when:
- The duties, taxes and other charges have been paid or secured to be paid at the port of entry (unless the goods are free from duties, taxes and other charges and legal permit for withdrawal has been granted); or
- If the goods are deemed free of duties, taxes and other charges, they have legally left the jurisdiction of the Bureau.
Selectivity System. Determines the selection of examination procedures based on risk criteria established in the Customs Cargo Clearance System. The Customs Cargo Clearance System assigns the declared goods to one of the following control channels:
- Red lane – documentary check; and physical examination or non-intrusive inspection, or magna scale weighing (when necessary);
- Yellow lane – documentary check;
- Blue lane – to be considered for post clearance audit; or
- Green lane – released without documentary check and without examination of the goods.