Friday, August 4, 2017

Should you ship your car to the Philippines?

Classic 1959 Chevy Corvette
     People have the different attitudes towards their car. Some are personally attached to it as it invokes fond memories of a loved one. Some cars are considered like a pet, a baby, and give them special names.
In fact, some people joke that they treat their car like their wife or husband.

     I know of someone who shipped an old Crown Victoria, not because she would drive it in the small streets of Metro-Manila but just to keep it in her garage to remind her of the memories of a loved one that she can look, feel, smell, and reminisce.

     For a returning resident to the Philippines, who is allowed to ship one automobile, this may become a difficult choice.

     For practicality, it is worth comparing their similar brand to what is available at Philippine Market. There are now a number of websites in the Philippines that would give you a general idea of a similar brand auto in the Philippines, if available at all.

     One of the most popular sites is

     It is a known fact that all cars intended for the US market have gone through rigorous quality control compared to other countries, like the Philippines.

     Therefore, a consumer product intended for the US is different from the same brand consumer product available in the Philippines.

     If a similar car is not available in the Philippines at all, that is a very good indication that the vehicle is worth shipping.

     With the advent of the internet, the spare parts requirements is no longer a problem as there are some businesses that offer buying and shipping services to Philippine residents. 

Please see:

     Whatever one's reason is in contemplating of shipping their car to the Philippines, one must be aware of the very important details.

     Only qualified individuals may bring in a used motor vehicle which shall be duly covered by a prior authority to import. Under appendix 1-D of BSP Circular-Letter, Series of 1995, dated October 19, 1995, the importation of used vehicles continue to be regulated and would therefore require prior authority from the Bureau of Import Services (BIS), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

     Pursuant to Sec.3 of E.O.156 and Sec.1, Part II of the  Implementing Guidelines, shipping a used vehicle to the Philippine is a privilege limited to holders of dual Philippine citizenship, or holders of 13G, or 13A, or Special Resident Retiree's Visa ( SSRV ), or holder of 47A and 47A2 issued to awardees of Special Government Project/s (SPG).e.g. Philippine Retirement Authority and Balik-Scientist Program

The following conditions must be met to get an approval for importation:

1) The vehicle must be left-hand drive:

2)  The vehicle has a gross vehicle weight (GVW) not exceeding three (3) tons; Please check the vehicle information located on the driver's side door frame of your vehicle;

3) It is covered by an authority to import (Certificate of Authority to Import) issued under the No-Dollar Importation Program by the Bureau of Import Services (BIS);

     There are some requirements that need to be obtained from the originating country prior to this application. Your local consulate or freight forwarder is the best source for this information.

4) It is personally owned and registered under the name of a returning resident or immigrant  ( Qualifying individual ) at least six (6) months prior to the date of application for the permit to import with the BIS ;

5) Must have passed Smog Inspection;

It is for personal use;

7)  It cannot be resold for at least three (3) years.

     It is a common misnomer that vehicle importation to the Philippines is tax-exempt. For those who qualify, only household goods are tax-exempt.

      For auto, 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 of the imported vehicle.

     It is advised that you get the accurate tax valuation before making this decision. It can be done by going to the Bureau of Customs located at Tondo, Manila:

One Stop Processing Center

Motor Vehicle
Manila International
Container Port
North Harbor, Manila, Philippines

       There is a company that offers this services online for a fee without any obligation to ship. See

      One might have heard of horror stories of those who shipped their vehicles to the Philippines. However, those who had problems are those who did not follow the procedural requirements. Some perhaps listened to their compadres or uncle who claimed they can handle it without following the process. Some might have used a foreign based company that is not familiar with the Philippine regulations.

     Contrary to some belief, vehicle shipping to those who qualify is a very simple and easy procedure if guided by a qualified freight forwarder and customs broker.

     The decision is based not on money alone as most of those returning back to the Philippines are into their 50's and 60's that have saved enough for their comfortable retirement and wise enough to use the exchange rates in their favor.

Manila Forwarder shipping vehicles of returning residents.

     Once that car is gone and you have sold it, it is gone.

     If you have some relatives that are staying behind in the US and willing to care and keep it for you, it's fine. You may just have to report it as non-operational to your local DMV.

    This is a once in a lifetime privilege given to a few. If you can afford it, use it properly. If not, there is always a tricycle or Uber in the corner.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Relocating to Philippines

     It is now a growing trend among citizens of developed countries to retire overseas. One need not be on the average retirement of 60's to enjoy a simple retired life. It all boils down to ones wants and needs.
     There are a number of nations that ranks top as retirement haven- Belize, Costa Rica, Mexico, Thailand, and the Philippines.
     In planning your retirement move, one may opt to leave everything behind and just take a suitcase. One might think of just shipping a few boxes, and some might opt to ship a whole container or two.
     Let me limit myself on my expertise- relocation to the Philippines. Other destination might be similar to the Philippine condition but a few checking will not do any harm.
     I served in the US military and have done a number of relocation myself. I also did such professionally with Manila Forwarder until a few years ago when I decided to retire.
     First and foremost for someone who is contemplating of retiring overseas is determining ones priorities. Write things down so one can contemplate on it every now and then until the actual D day (Shipping day). Make sure to include your loved one's input on this, if appropriate. Of course, some might be doing this to get away from them (he he he).
365 days before D day: 
     Get the total picture of your situation. Make a manifest in excel format all your assets, put an estimated value on each item.  Highlight the items that are priceless to you. Determine if some items are worth shipping. How much is it really worth in your present location and how much will it be on your destination country. Update this accordingly.
     You might also start to ask around or Google around. Look for a site or a company that provides free advice with no obligations. Call if possible.
     Some online container shipping company will immediately give you a rate of around $2,500 without asking pertinent questions that would affect the total price. Be wary that there might be a lot of hidden fees on this. The year 2016 average all inclusive cost of shipping a 20’ container from the US to Manila is $6,000 and $60 for one balikbayan box.
     Also check your travel documents including US and Philippine passport.

364 to 180 days before D day:
     Visit the location where you plan to retire. It is worth the plane ticket and most likely that it will be fun to see the place yourself before making a final decision. If you still do not have a place in the Philippines, start looking for one, either a rental or a purchase.
     I have handled a shipment from an American who met a Filipina online and he shipped all his belongings on a 20' container without personally meeting the girl. As the shipment takes around 30 days, he flew to Cebu, where the girl was living, immediately after he loaded the container. Lo and behold, the romance did not work out so even before the arrival of his shipment to Port of Cebu, he already asked me to arrange the return shipment to the US. Of course he has to pay for both shipments. 
     While in the location, start checking your manifest and contemplate on which is worth shipping. Most likely, you will notice that imported furniture and appliance are expensive in the Philippines but domestic products are cheaper. This is also applicable to late model used automobile which is allowed to be imported only by holders of Dual Citizenship, 13G and 13A Visa. There is no restriction on importing a brand new automobile.

120 days before D day:
      Look for a realtor if you need to sell or rent your property. 

100 days before D day:
     Start talking to a reputable freight forwarder that will ship your items. It can be just a few boxes or a few containers. Get one that knows the Philippines.  Call them and ask questions. 

90 days before D day:
     Contact the nearest Philippine Embassy or Consulate in your area and start the dual citizenship or visa application. If shipping a vehicle, prepare the appropriate forms (see: before coming over so you can get everything done in one visit. 
      Schedule a yard sale to dispose of things that you do not need to ship. IN the same token, buy items that you will need to ship. This might include solar panels, emergency generators, bathroom fixtures, space memory bed, among others that is expensive in the Philippines. Also note that most modern appliances are now auto volt (110 and 220 compatible). Ask the seller for details.

60 days before D day:
     Submit pertinent documents to your chosen freight forwarder. Vehicle shipments require documents from the Philippine Embassy/consulate that needs to be submitted to Philippine office of Department of Foreign Affairs. It takes time to mail those documents and ones vehicle cannot be shipped without this approval.

30 days before D day:
     Check with your realtor and freight forwarder if everything is set. Are all the documents submitted? Are you in schedule? At this time, rescheduling is still possible.
     Would you need a hotel after your furniture has been loaded in the container? Now that you have a firm schedule, book your airline ticket and accommodations, if needed. See this:

14 days before D day:
     Double check everything. Call or email everyone that needs to be called. Visit friends and loved ones. You may also ask them for a "working party" to help you pack your things. Doing the packing and container loading yourself will save you money.
     Notify the following of your relocation, your bank, post office, friends, loved ones, online accounts delivery, among others.
      See this program for Philippine-based P.O. Box service:
      If doing a ditty move (does it yourself), reserve a Penske truck with a lift gate so that you can prepare the shipment a day before and you will not have to lift any heavy furniture to the container which is 1 meter above the ground.

7 days before D day:
     Double check the list and if you have done everything, relax.

3 days before D day:
     Contact your freight forwarder for any updated information.

1 day before D day:
     If one is doing a ditty move ( do it yourself ), start preparing your shipment by loading it on your rented Penske truck so that when the container arrives on D day, you just back up the Penske truck to the back of the container and just transfer its contents. Make a note that it will be loaded on reverse (First you put in will be the last to be in the container).
     Update the manifest while doing this.

D day:
     Load the container or let the professionals do the work.

     If you use this checklist, this will provide you with ease during the whole process. Moving is fun. The move itself may create anxiety and stress. Preparation is the solution.  People are also encouraged to add more pointers to this blog.