Philippines Customs Releasing Procedure Updated

Tips on Dealing with Customs and Duties on Japanese Import Toys and DVDs in Manila

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.

Tips on Dealing with Customs and Duties on Japanese Import Toys and DVDs in Manila

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!

Author: magnetic_rose

Accountant by day, Supervillain by night. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!


  1. I will never go with EMS. I’d rather take the risk with SAL or even better, registered airmail. It also helps if the seller is willing to under declare the value of the item.

  2. lol i prefer EMS for the security and peace of mind it offers me, but the taxes really have been a bitch lately and i have resorted to the more nerve-wracking SAL shipment method.

    stupid “fundraising” for the stupid 2010 elections <.<

  3. I got sorely burned with EMS once, and I’m not going to do it again. Actually, my 20-dollar package from HLJ was taxed an extra 1,500 pesos thanks to awesome Customs numeral and monetary acrobatics…

    In any case, I’ve taken the liberty to link to your blog (for quite some time now, actually). Incredibly relevant to my interests. This is the girl who bought both Yoshiko and Suu Space Invaders, btw. :)

  4. hi there mai :D thanks so much for dropping by :D i hope you’re enjoying yoshiko and suu <3

    anyway — i feel your pain when it comes to the customs office :( anything that comes in an HLJ, AMAZON, or MANDARAKE box gets them salivating.

    i think i can only count on the fingers in one hand i got away with a parcel that wasn’t taxed. it’s so so frustrating XP

  5. I regularly buy @ YesAsia and always use the free shipping option. It never gets delivered straight to my home though. I always pick it up at Manila CPO.

    I’m actually having problems with one of my packages, my 2nd order arrived here but the 1st one is missing T_T.
    It’s been 5 weeks now. You think its time to report it? My kartero just keeps on telling me to wait for the white card (which I didnt get cause someone stole our house number!).

    Its funny they were being rude to me at first but when they saw the package they were looking at it so intently. Salivating! Yes :D

    I did a little arte though..and said that I didn’t need the receipt. And all I had with me was 500php. Haha. I got away with 700php ^^

  6. hmm give it one more week, and then e-mail YES ASIA to report a lost parcel. they should be able to assist you with recovering or resending your parcel. good luck! :D

  7. Im due to receive an item as well its a portable atomiser. Its around 20 usd includiny shipping. You think they’ll tax me for it? I used Ems. If so how much am I looking at?

    • it depends first if the customs office deems your item taxable or not. if it is then the calculations start. it also sounds like you’re trying to import agricultural or medical equipment — if so then a different table of taxes will be applied. if it’s hobby-related (like an airbrush kit) the the usual taxes as calculated above will apply.

  8. so if i would like to buy multiple items from ebay…(the thing is i don’t have paypal)…then would it be more practical to buy one at a time?

  9. ah EBAY is actually less of a problem than online stores. if you are purchasing multiple items from the same seller, you can simply ask them to under-declare the value of your parcel (say USD 20 instead of the actual USD 60) and mark it as a gift. most sellers agree if you ask nicely. if they do both there is a huge chance that your parcel gets sent to you directly without having to go through the customs office :) good luck!

  10. I ordered an item two weeks ago from china and it was sent through EMS… up to now my parcel didnt arrived… im from davao city and im just worried with my package. I used to purchase items from ebay using registered mail and im having no problems dealing with custom fees as they’ll charge me only Php 35.00. and all my items arrived less than 3 weeks, fastest was 8 days. I chose EMS shipping with my last order because i thought it will arrived within 3-5days… this is my first experience with EMS. 15 days have passed and still nothing. i used the tracking number on EMS website but it only stated the day it left china. I inquired with our local post office here in davao and they said they have not received my item yet. if all EMS shipment will be stocked at EMS office in Pasay, what should i do? im from mindanao.I dont know what to do now? help me pls….

    • i think there is a different EMS depot for the visayas and mindanao regions, and i have no information on them so i’m afraid i won’t be much help. what i can give you though is the phone number for the metro manila depot (in pasay), so perhaps you can phone them to ask for additional information on the status of your davao-bound parcel? their trunk line is (0632) 8543580. good luck!

  11. Hi magnetic rose, My friend from japan sent me a parcel via EMS, I checked the tracking number and says departure from inward office of exchange (manila) since sept. 15, does it mean that it is already left pasay EMS depot and in transit to my address in laguna? I’m a bit concerned, why is it taking a long time to be delivered?


    • EMS shouldn’t take more than seven working days tops; if the parcel is still not there please try calling the pasay depot to confirm that it has left there and is on its way to laguna. good luck!

  12. Update on my package
    Received a notice from EMS brought by the kartero yesterday and I was told to claim it in pasay depot.

    I called EMS pasay today (without telling that I received a notice) and followed-up the status of my package and was told it took a long time in customs and probably will be delivered tomorrow. I asked if I need to pay anything, replied not sure maybe upon delivery of the package I might pay some dues.

    This people in EMS are really unbelievable, they really don’t know what is happening in their office.

    Oh well I decided to wait until friday, if it will be delivered, if not no choice but to go to pasay and claim my package and hoping they will not charge me with a sky rocketing custom charge.

    I will update this until my package is in my hand and I will share my misadventures with Philpost.

    BTW: sorry for the rant.

  13. hi there magnetic rose, i recently bought an item at ebay which is around $90 including shipping expense and i used ems. do you think i’ll get taxed? the last thing i saw in my tracking number was it already “arrive at inward office of manila”. thanks

  14. i can’t really say — but it is a rule of thumb that that larger the parcel the more you should be worried. the customs office is more likely to keep an eye larger boxes and tax them than smaller ones (which does not mean that they don’t tax them — small parcels also get taxed, just not all the time).

    for now all you need to do is sit tight. if the status of your parcel doesn’t change in the next day or two, go ahead and call up the pasay EMS facility to check if your box has been detained by customs. if they confirm that it is there, you can go ahead and claim it by presenting them a print out of the tracking website instead of waiting for the official notice via snail mail.

  15. thanks very much. its only a small box though, a box a figma. ^^ so i’ll be doing what you said.

  16. Hey, thanks for the informative post!

    I recently took advantage of HLJ’s sale with free EMS shipping, and that map you have was of great use in finding the PhilPost CMEC for picking up the package. Also, that formula also proved helpful; the postage for the package I received was 3500 yen and I had to pay around 2000 pesos for customs and storage :(

    It is “interesting”, to say the least, seeing how they compute the customs charge… manually. When there’s a computer right in front of them :P

  17. ouch — PhP 2000 for a JPY 3500 parcel?! hngh it’s christmas time and they must really be milking it for all it’s worth :/

  18. I guess I’m luckier though… the person who got to customs before me had to face a 17,000-peso fee for what seems to be a package of construction materials :(

    Also, since the EMS shipping was free, my budget for that simply just transferred to the customs tax. It would be a long while for me to order and ship through EMS again though lol, at least until my other shipment of Gundam markers and sandpaper come via SAL.

  19. Argh, wish me luck. I am going there later Orz *sigh* It’s a 76 USD package and it would cost me roughly 1,561PhP. I dunno, I might end up stocking up in someone’s house in Japan or Singapore until I know someone who’s going home to the Philippines to bring home everything.

  20. it’s really pain in the ass to ship here in the Philippines

  21. hello.i also used ems to my package from china.dec 10 when my supplier send the package.So 8 days na now, di pa nmn updated ung website ng ems everytime i’ll track the package. But my supplier from china said it’s already left to their country,What will I do?

    • try to call the EMS office in pasay at 02-8543580 to ask for a status check on your parcel. have the tracking number ready when you call. parcels are probably delayed because it’s christmas and there is a huge volume of incoming packages from overseas, so the EMS sorting facility is taking longer to process them.

  22. I just ordered a toy from Play-Asia and it is scheduled to arrive yesterday via Fed-Ex but it didn’t. According to the site, it have CLEARANCE DELAY. And it’s worth $30.

    How can I deal with taxes?

    • your shipment is probably under inspection at the fed-ex facility; all parcels have to be inspected regardless of the declared value. now, if your fed-ex parcel has been held up by customs, fed-ex will take care of all the arrangements — all you have to do is pay them the appropriate tax so they’ll release your parcel to you.

  23. sis 27 na la pa rin dumrting pckge skin.10 days delay na. bkit kya? cnsgot nmn nung supplier ko despatch na from china nung tumtwg nmn ako sa pasay main office,everytime bnbgy ko ung trcking no. snsbi nila no info dw.hai. bkit kya?

  24. hi — china’s postal system is notoriously unreliable so this is probably not the local EMS office’s fault.

  25. wat do u mean sis?

  26. Hi, as far as I know this is just a personal blog and I am certain that the owner is not working for the post office nor an affiliate.

    Anyway, it would be much better if you type out your words more clearly. You are using a full keyboard, all the letter are there, please use them.

  27. sorry glaine but i’ve done all i can to help you. i really don’t have all the answers to your questions so i’m afraid you’ll have to figure this one out for yourself.

  28. ok.thanks

  29. I’m wondering if it’s ok to get my item shipped now? I got some free toys via HLJ and I will send it through Air Mail. Less fees, right?

    • should be better now compared to the christmas season — but no guarantees of course because you never know what those customs guys are thinking on any given day >.>


  31. hi there. unfortunately if the post office cannot help you, neither can i. i can give tips on how to claim your parcel, but tracking down one is impossible as i do not have access to the EMS computer system.

    lastly, please refrain from using all-caps when commenting; it is bad netiquette and is the equivalent of screaming at someone offline.

  32. I have a package arriving using air mail and it’s probably going to be a bit big because it has posters (total value is around 6000 JPY). I am really worried I might get taxed.

  33. hi..i have a package from Thailand via EMS and I’ve been waiting for it for two weeks now, when I called up our local post office they referred me to EMS Pasay so I called them up, I gave them the tracking number and they said that it’s ready for pick-up but needs to go through inspection’s just a bunch of binoculars and headwear with you think they’ll charge me for it? costs 54USD or 1550Baht..and also do you think I should tell them the amount in USD or Baht?..or there won’t be any difference at all..many thanks..I’m glad I found this site, really helpful..

  34. hi there — just declare the amount in baht first since the parcel was from thailand. in case they don’t have the daily conversion, they’ll ask you if you’re okay with the USD conversion instead.

  35. Hi, I just had my parcel shipped from China, and also just got a notice from EMS to claim my parcel at the Pasay Office. Would anybody know how much tax would they charge on a pair of shoes? The value of the shoes was $42 originally (Adidas) I don’t want to arrive there unaware.


  36. Thanks Magnetic Rose

  37. hi, I have a very big problem now. I am from La Union and I am expecting a packgae from thailand thru EMS. now, the package costs about 10000, how much will I pay then? oh noh! please someone help me.

  38. do I have to go over to Pasay? to get the package then?
    or they can deliver it in my house?

  39. if the parcel has been flagged for taxes, you have to claim it from the pasay depot. if not, then philpost will deliver it directly to the address indicated.

  40. Thank you for the info. I was planning to buy something @yesasia too but now, I’ll think twice. I’ve mailed some very important docs through EMS.It’s been 22 days now. My docs has not yet arrived to its destination. I’ve inquired @ my local postoffice as well as ‘that office’ in Pasay but they both can’t give me a valid response. I asked for a refund saying that it’s passed the supposed date of arrival but they said “Hindi sa amin may problema.Nasa ‘groundhandler’…” In short, don’t trust them.

    • like i suggested in the main post (i hope you read all of it) you can go ahead and pick it up without the notice as long as you have the tracking number.

      the calculation given above is for the tax bracket [TOYS and COLLECTIBLES], but it also applies to [CDs and DVDs].

      as far as i know, personal electronics belong to a different class so although you have to pay the same amount for VAT (12%) and processing fees (PhP 750), the percentage for customs dues will be different.

    • twenty two days is unusual. i used to receive EMS parcels in tokyo three days after they have been sent from manila. you should bring your concerns to the the PHILPOST main office, they may be able to help you there.

  41. Hi. I ordered a cellphone from china which costs $138. Its been over a month now so i called the EMS hotline and gave them the tracking number. They said the package is already there and i can pick it up. I told them i will wait for the notice. Should i wait for the notice or should i pick it up? How much should i pay them for tax etc. Is it the same as the computation above? Please help… I don’t want to be scammed by the people from the EMS office. Thank you.

  42. when reading through the comments, it seems we ALL have a problem buying stuff abroad. haay, sana naman kasi may nakasulat somewhere na madaling mabasa sa protocol nila noh…

    i’m planning to order a toy camera from japan (shipped accdg to the seller thru EMS) BUT before i go through that, i have to clarify something. Not all packages get delayed and have to be picked up at the EMS office at pasay ‘di ba? Meron bang tinatransfer to the local post office? and are there instances where it would be delivered directly to your doorstep?

    haay… pasensya na kung naririndi ka na sa dami ng nagtatanong :D thanks!

    • yup — not all parcels are taxed. it’s like playing russian roulette with the customs people — sometimes you get hit, sometimes you don’t :)

  43. I just wanted to share how incredibly helpful this is (I searched the net for the specific location of that Pasay office to no avail) :)

    So far with my EMS experience, everything was delivered to my doorstep within 3 days from Japan (they were one light doujinshi at a time from ebay, declared at Y500 and I didn’t even have to pay P35). Even small things using airmail got delivered to me without tax (even when one was declared Y2190), but when I had multiple small items via airmail I had to pick them up (for only P140 tax though). It really is important to declare them as gifts and keep them small.

  44. I stumbled upon your website because of fear for my next shipment though. The items are really small, but pricey (because they are two limited figures and two limited doujinshi, all Y10100 combined). I used a Japan shopping service this time, which is why they refuse to under-declare items. So, I’m in a pickle in deciding to opt for EMS or airmail, and to which items to lump together as a strategy to combine shipping.

    Sigh the troubles of collecting DX

  45. hi laika — i’m so glad you found the post helpful. and i hope that your next parcel doesn’t get taxed, given how expensive it is >.> it’s so hard to be a collector in this country :/

  46. Hello po..

    I have been receiving parcels since March this year from my aunt and fiancée from US and Australia, the custom’s office at Novaliches City charged us a fee of more than 1000 plus each for the parcels.. My aunt send me a box of medicine last two weeks and they were asking for another 2,500 pesos charge for that.. is it the normal process? I have some relatives from Tarlac City and they only pay 35 pesos for the same parcel sent by my aunt. Thank you so much for your help.

    • there’s no hard and fast rule — sometimes they tax you, sometimes they don’t. if you’re having trouble with your shipments why not have all your parcels shipped to your tarlac relatives, and pick them up from there? at the very least you’ll save yourself two, maybe three thousand pesos…

  47. hi

    this blog has been helpful. now i understand about all those tax.
    is it better then to use fed-ex? cause if i have a tax to pay fed ex would pay for it, and i would pay it to them.
    pasay is far from baguio.
    my package was declared with a 26 usd will i get taxed?


  48. This was really very helpful information. I ordered computer items from the US amounting to $300 including shipping via USPS. its been two weeks now and from their tracking website it only says it left the US april 1st. So i assumed that its already here and is being held by customs, called customs and was said to call the central post office, called them talked to a girl named catherine (who was really polite) and told me their really behind schedule since they manually search for each package (which got a huge laugh out of me). They would contact me once they locate it on monday. I’ll let everyone know what turns out and how much i would pay for taxes..cheers

  49. hi, as i read all the comments, i was so afraid for the tax. i don’t know how much i will pay once the items arrive. and also, i used ems as a shipping courier, baka maya ang tagal tagal dumating nun :(

  50. Hi, Just found your site today due to my frustration as to why my EMS package still hasn’t arrived. Last time my order of Pinkys arrived at my door step without any hassle. I called them up and they said if it hade “held by customs” as the status you’d have to pick it up at their office. Tomorrow I’m on a march to a hostage negotiation to get my new Pinkys at that dreaded facility. The commute will be long and difficult, to top that all I still have work by 10am, good luck much indeed -_-;
    Failippine postal system truly sux, does HLJ have FedEx? I’d be willing to pay those outrageous fees, given they deliver it to my house. If not they should at least be open on Saturday, even if only for half a day.
    Is there a difference between SAL and airmail? I also order a lot of stuff from Play-Asia and I don’t have to go through this insane process at customs when using their free shipping method.

    • lol i feel your pain >.> okay, let’s take your concerns one by one: 1) yes, HLJ now offers fedex; 2) the EMS sorting facility is, like all government offices, closed on saturdays; 3) SAL goes by ship so it takes much longer, about two or three weeks more; 4) PLAY-ASIA uses the hong kong postal system and ships in small packets which is why they are usually not caught :D

      i wish you all the luck in the world!

  51. So I just got my Pinkys earlier and have them with me in the office, I just left the box heh. The tax man seemed to be much better compared to the one I was talking to over the phone yesterday. The computation of taxes are indeed painful ._. tho he gave me some discount… He also gave me some tips on how to avoid having the item “supected” or something so that EMS would just send it to your door. Total Price of everthing more or less amounts to the same if I were to purchase the items locally, at least I was able to get a rare artbook that I haven’t seen anywhere ^_^ so that alone is already worth the trouble of trekking to that lonely facility by the airport.
    I guess I’d just order my anime figures from play-asia, how I wish play-asia had Pinkys in stock too.

    Oh btw, question on HLJ’s FedEx, how come I don’t see it listed as a shipping method when I view an item? I want to see the extimated freight charges if I were to ship with FedEx. I’m awaiting the May Pinky releases, I wish they’d be available locally so that I wouldn’t have to hassle myself again >_>

    *Off topic:
    Any one with a white yukata Pinky that I could borrow or buy?

  52. Hi, I have a question, for example that my order shipped through EMS doesn’t get taxed, do they deliver it to my home or do I still have to go and pick it up?

  53. thank GOD I found your site!!!

    I was looking for information about EMS…

    I’am planning to buy from EBAY and the seller is from JAPAN..

    I want to buy a camera worth $169, most probably i would get taxed right?

    packages lost during shipment are rare right? please help.

    • if it’s shipped via EMS no matter how expensive the parcel it is it never gets lost. and yes, based on the declared price of the item it will most likely be taxed. you can ask your ebay seller to lower the declared price of the item to save on customs fees, but that will also reduce its insurance value — so if the item is broken during transit you can’t reclaim its full value.

  54. What are the chances that I will get taxed? Is it safe to assume that if I just keep the package under $50 I won’t get taxed? Will it always work? Thanks.

  55. keeping the parcel under USD 50 works most of the time, but not all of the time.

  56. Hi!

    I am from Iloilo, I ordered 14 pairs of shoes from China. The packages were sent on the 26th and 29th of April. They were sent through EMS. My questions are:

    1. How many days would it take for the package to arrive here in the Philippines?

    2. Where should I claim my package? The local post office or the Customs House?

    3. If it wont arrive here in Iloilo, should I go to the EMS office at Pasay?

    Thank You!

    • EMS should take about 3-7 business days, however since the parcel was sent from china (and they are notorious for delays) you’ll need to wait up to ten days or so.

      as far as i know, visayas and mindanao parcels are cleared through a local customs depot in cebu — you’ll have to wait for the notice from them before proceeding with the claiming.

      the pasay clearing office is mostly for parcels for manila and luzon, but occasionally they also get large parcels meant for vis-min. it’s best to consult with your local post office by giving them a call.

  57. help! my package was send to my house but i wasnt home and they said that i should go to the post office and just pick it up there, will my package be ok? you think they would tax me?

  58. i think not since your parcel was already sent to you, you just weren’t around to receive it. you just have to pay the php 35 phil post fee and you’re free to take your parcel home~

  59. should be I the one accepting the package or can someone else (for example, the guard at my building) do it for me?

    • the addressee has to receive the parcel. if you need someone else to sign for it, you need to make out a letter of authority stating that the bearer has been authorized by you to receive the parcel for you. then both he and you need to supply two IDs each for verification purposes, plus photocopies of all of them since the post office sometimes asks for those too. hope that helps~

  60. hi magnetic rose,
    good day, i find your qas very helpful in enlightening people with EMS, honestly, i also experienced this hell day with them.
    i bought 2 louis vuitton from ebay, the items are from japan, the seller declared less than the priginal price i bought, but apparnetly the old custom lady shark officer with her aweful angry face charged me with a jaw dropping P4, 000.00, it was really a big amount.
    well, i got my lv bags and went home with a broke wallet.
    i would not suggest EMS, because it was a very horryfying experience.
    more power to you and godbless.
    warm regards,

    • wow that is pricey — but think of it this way: you still saved some money by buying luxury goods on ebay instead of from a store :) enjoy your new handbags :D

  61. ordered some stuff from korea amounting $200. :/ It’s a bunch of shoes, cds and nail polishes. <3

    Going to customs tomorrow. Will update you on what happens.

    I'm bringing a lawyer with me just in case. Hope they won't harass me then. :D

    • bringing a lawyer might be a bit much ^^;; just act cool and don’t be too confrontational so that they don’t notice you and overcharge your parcel. good luck!

  62. i ordered 3 shoes and 1 bag from this seller from china. $180 in total including shipping fee, but he said that he declared it $10 each item and as gift.

    i also ordered 13pcs of clothes from china but from a different seller, worth $109 including shipping fee.i’m not sure if it was declared as gift but the seller said it will be declared in lower value.

    both are paid same day and shipped same day.
    both packages’ status on ems tracking is “despatched from sorting center” and it’s been like that since may 16, 2010, and it’s not yet delivered. i talked to them (May 20)and said that it’s on its way to manila.

    will i receive both packages on the same day?
    will i be charged for tax?
    and is there other way for me to track my packages?
    thank you:)

  63. i already have the tracking number, and the status is still the same, “Despatch from Sorting Center ” it’s been like that since may 16. how will i know if my items already arrived here in manila? it’s hard to contact the PO..they’re also not answering

    • i believe your parcels are still in china. if the tracking site says “arrival at central post office” it’s already in manila and is either on its way to you or being held by customs for taxation. as for the EMS office, they accept calls from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM from monday to friday — just keep hitting redial until you manage to get someone since the trunkline is always busy and there are only two or three people in their call center.

  64. A parcel containing two tennis rackets were sent to me from China through EMS, the actual cost plus shipping was $112. The address indicated was Los Banos, Laguna. Three weeks after the parcel was sent a notice from the local post office came telling me that I had to pay taxes of P 3000. I learned that customs valued the items at $300 and computed the taxes based on that value. Is there any way that the taxes could still be reduced or should I just treat this as one of the many sad stories of EMS?

    • ouch — it looks like someone from the office knows how much tennis rackets are worth and jacked the prices up accordingly :( anyway, once customs officers have made the initial calculations there’s pretty much nothing you can do but pay up :(

      P.S. what model rackets were they? :) just curious, you don’t have to answer if it makes you feel uncomfortable :)

  65. 1 week in china? darn! i need the items this week :( last may 21 i asked where’s the package because the status is still in “DESPATCH” status, he said that its on its way to manila and he said that he also checked it to ems, it’s already sent “daw” here in philippines. how long does it take ba dapat para dumating dito sa pinas?

  66. That’s the sad part these rackets from China are the knockoffs of the real ones, or clones. Their playability is not the same as the real one but they are made in the same factory. The actual value is only $84 plus $28 shipping. The rackets are the current BLX models from Wilson, K-Tour 90 and K Six One 95. The form from the customs was attached to the parcel when it was sent from Pasay to Laguna, in fairness the calculation was itemized (same as the formula you shred with us) and written on a Standard form (BC Form No. 116, Statement and Receipts of Duties Collected on Informal Entry). I was hoping to make an appeal to them but going by your experience maybe this will be a futile exercise.

  67. @ Moe

    Just to share, basically we had the same problem, my item was dispatched from China May 1 (It read “despatch from sorting center”), after that the the tracking information was not updated anymore. I also tried calling EMS here but to no avail. Then on May 18 I received the claim note from out local post office informing me of the taxes I had to pay. It seems that even though item are declared gifts the customs people still open them up and have their own valuation scheme. Most probably your items were held for inspection just like mine. Most probably it is already in the country. I just hope they don’t tax you excessively.

  68. Correction the rackets are BLX Tour 90 and BLX Six one 95.

  69. @ alex ah original k-sixs are expensive, especially in the local market. i understand why you’d like to settle on a cheaper version, so its doubly sad that the customs office are eliminating your savings by taxing you.

    also, friends and i used to play on yonex rackets, because coming from japan the prices and the shipping cost less even if they were original :)

    @ moe unfortunately the chinese ems office is not as reliable in sending out parcels as the japanese (3-7 business days) or the americans (7-10 business days).

    if the parcel has not been delivered after fourteen days, chances are your local customs already has it and are just waiting for you to pick them up (they do sent a written notice) and pay for the dues.

  70. My package is marked at tracking as “In Customs”. Does it mean I’m supposed to expect a claim voucher soon? The gundams I ordered only total to about 7600yen. I’m guessing I would have to pay taxes? If so I’m dead, i’m just a kid who asked his dad to buy online since I promised it was cheaper.

  71. oh my…kailangan panaman ng customer ko ung dress before 29th. hahaaaay.may nabasa din ako in some forums na, talagang pinapatagal nila yung items sa customs so they can charge you ng malaki sa storage fee? is that true? i also read that some receives their package within 4days lang daw from china also. :( customs, customs, customs, mga buhaya talaga..

  72. @ magnetic_rose, with the tax I still had a relatively good price..really Yonex rackets are less expensive coming from Japan, Yonex are some of the best quality rackets in my opinion

  73. if inaddress ko ba yung package to UST post office, dadaan pa ba sa Pasay yun? or mas mapapadali ko makukuha yung item?

  74. @ Moe

    I think the problem begins by choosing EMS, usually ito offer ng Chinese sellers because of the big discounts they get, kaso pag dating dito sa Pinas it is sadly unreliable. The people at the local post told me everything passes through customs so it might be very difficult to get these items without such problems. Even with DHL, Fedex etc. the items will still pass customs, except that the couriers pay the tax in advance and charge it to you. One option is that if you have a friend in China who has a forwarder you can request him to ship the item through that forwarder, that way yung charge nung forwarder sa kanya all in na wala ng sakit ng ulo, but you have to have that contact in China.

  75. ow, yun ang prob, i don’t know any friends/relatives in china..i’m going back to school na, nakadorm ako, eh i’m still planning to continue selling online. okay ba kung sa UST post office ko nalang i-address then pick it up there? kasi kung iaaddress ko pa sa dorm ko, malamang hhold pa ulit un, then baka ipapick up pa sa lawton post office okaya sa pasay…so hassle. eh kung papapick up rin lng naman, naisip ko UST post office nalang, is that a good idea?

    kasi tingin ko (correct me if i’m wrong)
    pag private couriers ang pinili ko, malaki din bbyarang tax, then di kapa makakahaggle, kasi diba you’ll pay kung magkano man ang chinarge sakanila..but faster and reliable and door to door..
    pag EMS naman, you can haggle the tax, un nga lang you have to pick it up. and matagal.

  76. all parcels held up by customs for taxation need to be picked up at the pasay sorting facility regardless of where in metro manila it was addressed, so i don’t think it will make much difference if you choose to address it to your permanent residence or your dorm facility…

  77. I’m thinking it’s less likely that they’ll jack up the taxes if I buy from online sites right like HMV, CDJapan? There’s no way they’re going to say it was undervalued.

    Has anyone ever tried using EMS from CDJapan? I’ve tried HMV’s and I wasn’t taxed so I’m kinda hoping the same happens for my parcel from CDJapan.

    • actually, the customs office is just as likely to tax purchases from online stores, especially if the store logos are emblazoned on the shipping boxes. the taxation depends on whether it was a large shipment , and not from the store that shipped it. i’ve had parcels from both HMV and CDJapan taxed as well as untaxed, and the larger the shipment the higher chance of it being caught in the customs drag net and charged with the appropriate taxes.

  78. What I mean is, should I be worried that they suddenly overvalue my parcel even if it came from online shops? I’ve read cases (like the one above) that they charge a lot for tax because they claim the parcel was undervalued.

    • @skylight online stores usually include a shipping invoice so there’s no danger of the item being overvalued during the tax calculation, unlike — say, EBAY purchases.

      @moe sorry but that is an addressing concern and not a taxation problem, and i’ve had no experience tackling those kinds of situations so your guess is as good as mine.

  79. i mean, sa Post office ng UST ko nalang iaddress? like have P.O. box there. or kung pwede kahit hindi na P.O. box, basta naka address sa UST post office..?

    anyway this is my update regarding my package

    tumawag ako sa post office para tanungin kung andun na ung package ko.
    sabi OO, pwede na ung package ko. ung isa ha ung puro damit.
    ready napala ipick up (as of May 21 pa!) pero wala pang pinapadalang claim stub, anu bayan!

    tapos tinanong ko narin ung isang package na puro Replica boots, at isang bag na regalo ko sa mama ko.

    me: “ha? eh pano yan? asan na ba?”
    cs: “wala po nakasulat, kaya po nakahold”
    me: “nasa Philippines naba?”
    cs: “yes ma’am, kaso hindi maideliver kasi walang address”
    me: “kahit ano walang nakasulat? kahit Manila? paranaque?Philippines?”
    cs: “wala po talaga ma’am, tracking number lang talaga”
    me: “okay teka ha tanong ko sender ko”

    me to sender: “there’s a problem with the package you sent”
    sender: “what?”
    me: “the post said, there is no name and address written, just the tracking number”
    sender: “post there in philippines?”
    me: “yes”
    sender: “that’s amazing, how they do that! i wrote your name and address by myself”
    me: “i don’t know, that’s what they told me”
    (oo nga ano! chaka diba, kung walang address, irereturn to sender yun?di makakalabas ng bansa yun)
    me: “wait, i’ll talk to the customer service again”

    me to customer service ng Philpost:

    me: Ms, sabi ng supplier ko..pano daw nakarating dyan kung walang name and address”
    cs: “di ko nga po alam eh, baka po nagkaproblema lang sa something” (she really used the word something)
    me: eh pano ngayon yan?
    cs: sbhin nyo po sa sender nyo na iemail samin ung Name and Address pati Tracking number para malamn w/c package un, pati po yung name ng sender
    me: okay, ano email?

    me to sender:

    me: they told me to ask you to send my whole name, address, tracking number and your name too as a sender.
    sender: okay, what’s the email?
    sender: okay, i’ll send it now. i’ll also send it to you
    me: thank you so much
    sender: okay, check your mail!
    eto yung email:

    Dear You:
    Good day for you.
    I am so sorry about my friend Monique Sison checked all over,the parcel of tracking number of EE285017910CN now is in your post and without name or address.that you cannot send the parcel to the can refer to the attachment that the scan of the bill.the parcel noted”GIFT 10$”
    Here is my friend name and address detail.
    First Name : Monique
    Last Name : Sison
    Country : Philippines
    Shipping Address : (sorry, can’t post my address here)
    Paranaque City, Metro Manila
    Postal Code / Zip : 1700
    Email Address:

    Phone Number: 0916*******

    My name is Zhuangli(my chinese name) from phone is 86-0136669*****,you can freely to call me any time to check all.
    . Looking forwards to handle all the things,and let my friend get the parcel soon,
    Thanks very much
    Best regards

    me to customer sercive ng philpost:

    me: hello eto yung kanina, ung sa package na walang name and address
    cs: yes ma’am
    me: diba hindi masesend yung package kung wlang name and address?? pano nakarating yan dito? diba return to sender dapat yan?
    cs: ma’am di ko po kasi nakikita ung package mo mismo, pero sa record mo no name and address, eh may name and address po dapat yan sa record.
    me: eh pano nga nakaratin yan dito?
    cs: baka po accidente natanggal
    me: ano bayan, pakiayos nalang ha kailangan ko kasi yan ngayon na sana.
    cs: di napo kasi makukuha today 5pm napo kasi
    me: bukas pwede na?
    cs: yes ma’am isabay nyo nadin sa pagkuha ng isa, pakifollow up nalang ng email.
    me: nasend na ngayon, pakicheck, sinama pa ng sender ko yung resibo ng EMS sa email ha! baka pa ano pa idahilan nyo
    cs: sige po ayusin po namin yan bukas
    me: sige. pakiayos na ha!thank you
    cs: you’re welcome ma’am kinausap ko rin kuya ko regarding this..sabi nya, baka daw kasi gusto kunin talaga ng post office since branded boots yun.(replica nga lang) medyo may alam kuya ko ssa customs kasi balak din non mag customs eh HAHA kaya ano tingin nyo? bakit nga ba walang name and address? eh pinadala sakin ung resibo nung EMS package ko sa email.. sooooo?

  80. I hope you don’t mind me asking, what did you order from CDJapan and HMV that got you taxed? How much was parcel value?

  81. i’ve had a lot of parcels sent to me, but the two latest were a photobook from HMV (untaxed, JPY 8000 value), and two DVDs from CDJapan (taxed, JPY 10000 value).

  82. I’ve only had 2 orders from HMV and both weren’t taxed and I’m thinking maybe it’s the way they packed my items using only an envelope?

    CDJapan on the other hand usually puts them in a box so I’m quite hesistant to use EMS whenever I buy from them. Also there are items which have free posters and they get shipped in a larger box so I’m afraid it might catch the eye of customs.

  83. @magnetic rose

    Due to my experience with China sellers I am planning to buy this time from Singapore. If the seller ships through Singapore Speedpost will this still pass through the dreaded customs crocs? Or will this just go straight to the local post?

  84. So its really like Russian roullette with customs….

  85. hlo. how many days do i expect for may package to be staying at the customs? i tracked it and it says its been with customs for three days now :-(

    • if it’s been with them for the past three days, you can go ahead and pick it up without waiting for the notice by making a print-out of the tracking page plus bringing two valid IDS (and the cash for the taxes >.> ) with you to the pasay EMS sorting facility.

  86. tnx so much magnetic_rose.

    my seller declared that the bag is worth %100 and she emailed me a custom form declaring that it is a gift worth $100 for a used bag. will i still be taxed? and the computation is same as above: [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]

    i called EMS and they told me to email them whick they will forward to customs to release/clear my package and an authorization for the package to be delivered thru the local post office.

    what will be the best thing for me to do? go to MIA road or just email EMS…

    i think this will be my first and last online shopping…

  87. unfortunately if the customs office get a hold of it you will be taxed the full cost of your purchase :( to claim it, you will have to go to the pasay office and pay the customs dues. please bring a print out of the tracking page plus two IDs, and the cash you need to pay for the fees.

  88. grabe ang customs d2 sa Pinas…masyadong CORRUPT!! I got a package from US actually its just my prize for a nail art contest that I joined.. the parcel value is 60$.. I am so surprised when they computed the total parcel value including shipping & insurance of $100.58!!!! ganun ba tlga ang computation pati shipping & insurance sinasama sa total value of parcel??? theyre asking me to pay 1,540 for the package that I won for a nail art contest which only consist of 4 nail polish, 2 mary kay mini eye shadow, 2 mary kay lip gloss!!!grabe!! sa laki ng babayaran kong tax parang binili kona rin ung prize ko!!!!!ok lang sana magbayad ng tax tama lang sana ung computation saka kung may nakikitang improvement sa office nila… ang abgal na nga ng proseso nila sobrang init pa & mga mukhang pera!! i couldnt image na ung computation nila na pinakita sakin eh nasa scratch paper lang!!!! lahat ba ng registered mail sa ems exchange center bumabagsak???

    • so sorry to hear about what happened. however, if i remember correctly medical goods and equipment, personal electronics, and luxury items like apparel, handbags, accessories, and yes — cosmetics, are given a higher tax charge than the 10% given to CDs, books, DVDs, and toys :(

  89. hi… this is still concerning my package from hongkong via ems.

    i checked the tracking and it says IN TRANSIT after 7 days in customs for inspection. doest it mean they will deliver it to me at home here in pampanga? and does it mean i will not be taxed? :-)

    ive been calling ems office to no avail…

    this is my first international transaction and much of the info that i have are purely from the internet.

    tnx so much

    • @ruri — yup, it’s on its way to you and you will not be taxed. congratulations!

      @sig — ouch, that sucks for you and your friend both :(

  90. A few months ago, I ordered a kendo gi online from a shop in Los Angeles. The product cost US$40 and the customs bureau didn’t charge me a peso for the shipment.

    However, with the Bogu i ordered online, it was a different story.

    I bought bogu online from a shop based in Korea. When DHL delivered my ordered product, I got charged Php3,800 for the parcel with declared value of US$130 (the true price of the bogu is US$450. Cr@p! That’s quite a fortune! But I guess I’m still lucky. A batchmate of mine in Kendo purchased his bogu online as well and when dhl delivered his ordered product, he was charged Php6000 by the customs bureau.

  91. After reading all the posts above, I really worry the amount of tax these customs crocs will charge me. My parcel was declared USD 344.26 or JP Yen 31,500.00 from Niiza Japan and was sent thru japan post EMS. Based on the computation, I’ll have to pay Php 4,344.62. That’s about 27% plus the value of my parcel.

    All the more praying that a 7.2 x 3.1 x 11.9 inches (W) x (H) x (D) size box would just be invisible and passby the eyes of these customs people.

    Keep you posted.

  92. i had a package from china sent thru ups last may 31 and it arrived june 5 delivered to my home, i had to shell out P2,423 for taxes for a package worth only 150$, 37% of the package already.

    my new package from china was sent thru ems unfortunately, i don’t have any idea reagarding its services,(good thing i read this blog, thanks miss magnetic_rose), the package was shipped last june 7, based on the online tracking,it left china on the 10th (despatch from sorting center,beijing), so assuming that it reached phil. by the 11th or 12th, it hasn’t been taken care of the phil. ems due to the long weekend,(i was already talking to my supplier in china, i was upset because the package was taking too long and since i paid for a UPS shipment,i was expecting it to be shipped by UPS and not by EMS,because if it was shipped thru UPS, i would’ve gotten the package last june 11/12) i went to my local post office and they advised me to call the pasay office, and damn! i wasn’t able to get thru the busy line,hoping to be able get thru their busy line,i’m bracing myself for the taxes, the value is only 100$, hopefully, within p1k only.

  93. =_= I find the computation strange. I bought a book from Amazon UK ( 18Pounds) and only paid 35Php for the Customs fee. Then, I bought 2 volumes of Manga from AmazonJP (390*2 +3,000 Yen Shipping Fee) and I must pay custom charges amounting to 2,000 Php.

  94. Hi,

    I ordered a cd in a dvd case in cdjapan. It costs 3619yen plus 1200 shipping. The total is 4,519 yen or $49.05. Do you think i will be taxed?? And in case i will , there is always an ems delivery in our post office, and there is also a customs personel inside the parcel office (before walang ganun), do you think i dont need to go to Pasay and just pay my tax here in Marikina City? Thanks.

  95. After reading all you thoughts and experiences towards EMS, I hurriedly email cdjapan to change my shipping method. from EMS to Registered Airmail. I will never get my orders delivered thru EMS. I am very scared trying their service. Thank you all peeps for all your posts especially to magnetic-rose. Thanks!!

  96. hey magnetic_rose

    I just had a package from japan sent to me last June 10. While tracking it, the page says it arrived in the Philippines on the 14th and is now “In Customs”. A couple of days later, on the 16th, it says “retention”. what gives? does that mean they suddenly became interested in my gundam model?

    • @dion sometimes parcels worth less that USD 50 sent via EMS are not taxed. but if you don’t feel comfortable with EMS then registered mail is a good alternative.

      @jedd the package has been retained by the customs office, and you have to pay taxes for it to be released.

  97. @magnetic_rose no seriously? oh well, thanks for the help. It didn’t help I guess that the seller marked it as a “gift”.

  98. Thanks magnetic-rose. I will never use EMS ay my shipping method after i read the things about ems in this forum. Thank You all!

  99. My package arrived here last June 2. It’s a seiyuu magazine and a shoujo manga magazine (with a 付録ストラップ) I ordered through Amazon JP and asked a friend to resend. I still haven’t received it or gotten a notice and according to the tracking site, there was no one to receive it and they brought it back.

    6月2日 ご不在のため持ち戻り

    Still no update on whether it’s in customs or not, but I have a huge feeling it’s in the Pasay office. I haven’t called them up yet because it’s really hard for me to call here. (I’ve got no landline at home)

    Think I should just head straight to the Pasay office armed with my tracking number and IDs?

    I seriously don’t want to lose this package… That mag’s out of stock everywhere and the next issue’s already gonna be out soon. :|

    • since the parcel was returned to the sender according to the tracking site, it’s possible that the package is not with customs, but rather — it was wrongly addressed and therefore sent back to your friend in japan. check with your friend in japan if he or she has received the returned parcel, and have it sent to you again — double checking the address this time.

  100. No, no… It says the addressee is not around. And checked in the English tracking site which has funky English, it says something that doesn’t even serve as a translation to 不在–“Attempted delivery”. I doubt they’ll send it all the way back to Japan just because the addressee wasn’t around.