Shipping Household Goods (HHG) to the Philippines

Keep in mind the date of the original posting of this article (June 2013). While it does indicate the complexities that are involved with shipping HHG to the Philippines, one should do updated research on requirements as they apply today. For example, rules, as applied to Balikbayan shipping, have since changed. Use this post only as a guide to what you should be researching for your own situation. Best Wishes!

Previous to this post, I wrote 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 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.

I 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


Part 1 – Holder of Philippine passport


– Each is entitled to an 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 is 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


 – 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.


–  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)
  • A 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 the 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 the 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 an 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 the 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.


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  


– 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

The 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 a 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 the 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 canceled 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 the 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 the 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 the 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 costs aside from storage fees at the port.

6. Shipment is subject to physical examination

7. The village entrance fee is excluded and the client must coordinate with their Admin. Office
to secure the delivery permit. Please furnish us with a copy receipt or permit so we can
present it to the gate upon entry of our truck with the 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
and all packages will be re-loaded to a 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
the final depot of P12,500.

9. We recommend that you or your representative is present during the 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 they 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 shipper to verify any updated information because they deal with the same requirements on a day-to-day basis.


10 thoughts on “Shipping Household Goods (HHG) to the Philippines

  1. Hello,

    Thank you for your post. My husband and I are planning to ship our household goods to the Philippines and wondering what shipping company did you used. We live in Illinois, southwest of Chicago and can’t find any shipping company near here in our place. One moving company quoted us for almost $20,000.00 (for 20ft container) after insurance, packing, crating and loading. Door to door as well.

    Also, how long it take you to get the 13(a) visa?

    Thank you and I really appreciate your help,


  2. Hi Alona. We are using Allied Van Lines and they came to the house and loaded everything. Where we saved money is in packing about 40 boxes ourselves. They are marked Packed by Owner (PBO) and are our responsibility. We went to the local newspaper printer and purchased end rolls of paper and tore it into squares to wrap everything for boxing. We probably saved about $900 in labor and materials by doing that over the course of a couple months. They loaded and took it to Memphis where it is booked through Lanigan Worldwide Movers and further consigned to Goetz Moving & Storage in the Philippines. We received quotes from Allied, United, and some other local company. Although Allied was slightly more expensive, they seemed to have their act together, and that was important to us. Another way to save $$ is to not over insure. Insurance is very expensive. We took the minimum required (when was the last time you heard of an ocean cargo ship sinking?) Anyway, we went with the odds. Where are you actually living? We also lived SW of Chicago in the late 80’s (Frankfort). It will take about 3 weeks to get my 13A Visa but could be faster for your husband because you are so close to the consulate.

  3. Hello,

    Thank you for your reply. The quote I had received for almost $20,000 was from Allied Van Lines, but this was for 40ft and not 20ft as mentioned in my earlier reply.
    We live in the quad cities, where Mississippi river is a boarder between Iowa and Illinois. We are 2 1/2 hours SW of Chicago.
    Also, I am wondering why a foreign husband needs to get a 13a visa for tax exemption. I would think that the Filipina wife will cover both exemption. (for husband and wife). Is your wife a dual citizen?


  4. No, my wife never obtained U.S. Citizenship as there are absolutely no advantages IMO, and only places her in an additional taxation situation. She will get her Social Security regardless. Returning Filipinos (Balikbayan) only get an exemption on the first PHP10,000 of value. Doesn’t seem fair, but that’s the way it is. You might have to do what we did…have 3 large moving sales and get rid of some stuff. 😛

  5. Randy,
    Good article on shipping household goods to PH. Great that you managed to slip in a kayak along with all your asawa’s things. I did manage to ship a 13-ft kayak in a balibayan box. However, it was a Folbot folding kayak that folds into a suitcase size bag. I am sure that you have not had a chance to paddle yet in PH, but let everyone know how it goes when you do. We will be in PH in January and February of 2013, and will be spending a week on Boracay kayaking and sailing in rented boats.

    Mike H.

  6. Have not retrieved my shipment yet from Customs. Tomorrow we head to Manila for that adventure. I have already scoped out a good launch site just a short walk from the house. I also have my eye on some local paddling routes. I seen a video of that Folbot yak but was a bit pricey for me starting out. Maybe we can meet up in Boracay at the turn of the year.

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