Importation 101: Importation procedure in Phl

The Department of Trade and Industry has reported that imports continue to expand as the Philippine economy continues to open up. From January to May 2022 alone, the country has seen a 29.02 percent growth rate in imports, translating to from US$44,021.88 Million to US$56,796.08 million worth of imports, with China seen as the top importer with a 19.24 percent share of the Philippine’s total import bills. It is followed by Korea and Japan, respectively.

Imports help product local economic activity and, when properly regulated, can help local industries become more responsive to consumers. As with all commercial activities, importation into the Philippines is subjected to customs duties and taxes unless there is an exemption. Import duty and taxes apply for previously exported and re-imported shipments.

Any business wishing to import products into the Philippines must first secure an Import Clearance Certificate from the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Importers then register with the Bureau of Customs. Moreover, they need to set up an account with the Client Profile Registration System. The Import Clearance Certificate is valid for three years.

Importers bringing in animals, plants, foodstuff, medicine, or chemicals must additionally obtain a Certificate of Product Registration from the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration. Businesses importing into the Philippines must provide certain documents upon arrival of their goods, such as the packing list; invoice; bill of lading; import permit; customs import declaration; and certificate of origin. It is not uncommon for freight forwarders and customs brokers to be engaged to deal with customs clearance and ensure compliance with legal requirements.

The importation requirements of any product category may be verified with the relevant authorities such as the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Import Services of the Department of Trade and Industry. For agriculture-related importation, the Department of Agriculture may verify the importation status of agricultural products and indicate whether requirements are met, such as a Minimum Access Volume Import Certificate or the importation of swine, chicken, etc.

Importation requires compliance with various documents and procedures depending on the status of the goods imported, whether they are importable, regulated, or restricted.

Regulated commodities include, but are not limited to, food products (processed or unprocessed), plant products, animal products, aquatic products, drugs, and chemical products, used motor vehicles, electrical appliances, telecommunication equipment, tobacco products, mineral products

Restricted imports are goods that may be imported or exported only when authorized by law or regulation. Classified under this are explosives and firearms; gambling paraphernalia; narcotics or synthetic drugs declared as habit-forming, except under certain well-defined exceptions, among others.

Prohibited or banned commodities refer to goods that are, by their nature, unlawful to be imported or exported — commonly termed “contrabands.” Contrabands commonly refer to misbranded food or drugs Infringing goods as defined under the Intellectual Property Code and related laws, and other goods prohibited by other laws or regulations. Also prohibited are materials inciting treason, rebellion, insurrection, sedition against the government of the Philippines, or forcible resistance to any law of the Philippines; those related to unlawful abortion; those manufactured in gold, silver, or other precious metals or alloys and the mark does not indicate the actual fineness of quality of the metals.

Finally, all imported articles are subject to duty upon each importation, even though previously exported from the Philippines, as provided under the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines. Under Customs Administrative Order No. 01-2019, importers are also required to keep at their principal place of business and for a period of three years from the date of final payment of duties and taxes or customs clearance, all records of their importations, books of accounts, business and computer systems and all customs commercial data including payment records. Otherwise, they may be charged a 20% surcharge, their accreditation, delivery, and release of subsequent imported goods suspended, and may face criminal prosecution.


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