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Can I bring my stuff with me?

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Somebody e-mailed me last night asking a question about bringing their belongings with them when they come, and how much duty they will have to pay to the Philippine Customs for that.  I am sorry, but right now I have lost your e-mail!  I am in the middle of migrating to a new computer, and my e-mail files got corrupted in the process.  I am still hoping to recover all of that, but it isn’t sure.  I thought I would post this info in hopes that you will see the information you are looking for. Also, I am sure that others will need this information as well.

Any of the visas that give you resident status in the Philippines, which would include the Special Retirement Visa and also the “13” series of visas give you an opportunity to bring your personal belongings.  The law is written that you can bring up th $7,000 worth of goods without need to pay any taxes or fees to the Philippine Government.  I entered the Philippines on a 13(a) visa – meaning that with my wife as a former Philippine citizen, they grant all of our family resident status here.  At the time of my entry (2000) the same $7,000 value was in place for the value of the belongings that you could bring.  Well, we brought a lot more than $7,000 worth of stuff, and no taxes or fees were imposed.  The customs officials didn’t seem to care how much there was.

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There is one catch – and this is something that the customs officials kept a close eye for – you CANNOT bring in a car as part of your tax free allowance.  On a car, the customs duty is 100% of the original purchase price.  So, if you paid $20,000 for a car 10 years ago and bring it here, you must pay $20,000 in customs fees.  In my opinion, it’s best to just sell your car before coming to the Philippines and buy a new one here.

Now, keep in mind that the law says you must pay customs on anything over $7,000.  So, if they decide to charge you, you have to pay it!  But, in practice, myself and others that I have heard from have not had to pay any fees on the value over $7,000 in personal goods.

Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur. Bob is an American who lived in Mindanao from 2000 until 2019. Bob has now relocated back to the USA.

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Ross
Ross
14 years ago

I have discarded my plans of shipping all of my stuff here in the US in a container after reading and getting feedbacks from other sources. Due to electrical voltage uncertainty we can not operate stateside appliances and will eventually break down. I have accummulated a dozen balikbayan boxes ready for shipment when our house is sold. We will have approximately 30 balikbayan boxes to be shipped out. These are very important stuff that we are bringing to the Philippines and we will just buy appliances and other stuff there where it is cheaper.

Bob
Bob
14 years ago

Hi Jenny – Just about anywhere here in Davao can get DSL now. I like living where I do, in the Marfori Heights Subdivision. Sorry for my late reply, I must have overlooked your comment!

Hi Ross – I think you have made a sensible decision. Good luck with your move!

Jenny
Jenny
14 years ago

Bob,

I am coming to Davao, Philippines in a few weeks and have found the information on your blog really useful. I've never traveled there, but currently live in Kuwait where there are a lot of Philippino ex-pats, including my maid. Thanks for the posts, it's hard to plan a move to a place you've never been and your blog has cleared up a few questions for me.

Jenny

Bob
Bob
14 years ago

Hi Jenny – glad to be of assistance! If you have questions about coming to Davao, be sure to let me know! I'd be happy to help any way I can.

Jenny
Jenny
14 years ago

Bob, In some of your other messages you mentioned that realiable internet can be found, but that one needs to check out to see if the neighborhood has access. My most important priority when looking for a home is reliable internet access. My husband works abroad and this is my link to him and the rest of the outside world. Also, I will be moving with two small children and my maid from here. If you have any recommendations as to a good, safe area of town with internet or a particular part of the city I should avoid I… Read more »

Mitch
Mitch
14 years ago

How did you ship your items to PI? We are looking for a shipping company that we can load maybe a 20foot shipping container. My big questions are how does customs work. Who can I contact?

Bob
Bob
14 years ago

Hi Mitch – when we moved, we just contracted with an international moving company. It was a little more expensive than packing up the container and doing all the legwork yourself, but I think it was worth it. If you want to go that route, just do an internet search for "international moving company" or something like that, or just check your local yellow pages for moving companies and start making calls. If you prefer to do it yourself, you need to look for a shipping company that can move your container. Look at Maersk and see if they can… Read more »

Cecilia
12 years ago

I am not sure if you have already discussed this somewhere in your site, but what can you say about bring your vehicle…esp. tax-wise? Thanks!

Bob
Bob
12 years ago

Hi Cecilia – Unfortunately, I would say that it is not a good idea to bring a vehicle here. There is a 100% tax on vehicles coming in. So, if your car cost you $20,000, even if it is 10 years old, you will have to pay a $20,000 tax to the Philippine government to bring it in. Better to just purchase a new car here.

Dave
Dave
8 years ago

Hi Bob. According to Manila Forwarders, the tax is a bit more complex than you say, “8 IS THE IMPORTED VEHICLE SUBJECT TO TAXES AND DUTIES? Yes. Whether brand-new or used, purchased or donated, the imported vehicle is subject to 40% Customs duty, 10% VAT and Ad Valorem Tax from 15% to 100% depending on its piston displacement. Its book value serves as the tax base and not the purchase price nor the acquisition cost. The book value is sourced from universally accepted motor vehicle reference books such as the Red Book, Blue Book, World Book depending on the origin… Read more »

MindanaoBob
8 years ago
Reply to  Dave

Hi Dave. As I am sure you are aware, laws change over time. What the tax was when I wrote this, and what they are now may have changed. I will say this, I do not consider Manila Forwarder a reliable source, I have had some bad experiences with them in the past.

My take is that it is not a good idea to import a car to the Philippines.

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