Customs and duties are some of the most hotly contested topics on local blogs recently, and I can’t help but relate it to my (our?) hobby of amassing toys and CDs produced in Japan. I’ve been hit by the tax man pretty hard too, so of course I’d do everything legitimate in my power to save a buck or two.
If you’re wary of your parcels from online stores getting taxed, there are two ways to avoid them — however keep in mind that this isn’t guaranteed to work 100% of the time. One way is to keep your shipments small, at just under USD 50. These are considered low-value shipments and are less likely to be taxed. Another way is to have the parcel shipped via SAL — which is much slower and not trackable, but is also more likely to fly under the radar and reach your doorstep without getting taxed.
So how do you know if your parcel is being held for customs? If your parcel was sent via EMS and has not reached you three days after it was mailed out, then it was probably flagged for inspection. You can confirm this via three methods: 1) you can check the JAPAN POST or USPS website to check on your parcel via its tracking number; 2) you can wait for your claim voucher to arrive via snail mail; or 3) you can call the EMS call center at (+632) 854-3580 and give them your parcel tracking number for confirmation.
If your parcel is detained at the Bureau of Customs, you have to trek all the way to their office at the EMS Sorting Facility on MIA Road, Pasay City (MAP). Don’t forget to bring your claim voucher, or a printout of the page on the tracking website, and two valid IDs. Once there, you will be asked to open your parcel to determine the value, and then taxes and fees will be levied on the contents.
Generally, the calculations run like this:
[total USD value of parcel * 10% customs dues] + [total USD value of parcel * 12% VAT] + [PhP 750 customs miscellaneous fees] + [PhP 35 Philpost releasing fee]
So if your item is valued at USD 100, and assuming that the conversion rate is PhP 50 to USD 1, you have to pay: [USD 10] + [USD 12] + [PhP 750] + [PhP 35] = PhP1885. Good luck trying to fish that out of your wallet without weeping silently.
I know that it’s my duty as a citizen to pay taxes and dues, and it really wouldn’t be such a big deal if they weren’t so high. Also, I could live with myself better if I knew that the money was going to good use, like building schools or shoring up local businesses. Instead, they go to the pockets of corrupt government officials and greedy politicians.
It’s a lose-lose situation for regular folks like you and me :(
Starting 31st December 2010, I may no longer be able to regularly reply to queries posted on this thread. However, most cases have already been tackled previously, so I suggest you read through the comments log to find your answers, instead of posting a new question. Thank you very much!