When I visited the site and post of Manuel Quezon III on the customs duties on books, I read paragraphs on taxes on books ordered online and shipped to the Philippines. Following is my experience last November. This is basically a repost done after I realized that unkown to me I shouldn’t have been taxed for my book purchases. The post:
Last week, the registry notice of my order from Amazon arrived. Per Amazon, estimated date of arrival should have been 7 November. It came a few days late, I think on the 12th. Not bad.
Unlike in the past when the registry notice had the info that I should pay P35 upon claiming, this time it said “Pay P____. Being the proverbial optimist, I thought, uhmmm, maybe I won’t have to pay anything.
Then lo and behold, when my son was at the post office this pm, he called, “Mama, may babayaran. P1400.” Deja vu. I think I wrote a post some time ago about how a scholar of Mama who’s now a nurse in the States and doing very well sent a package of various items I didn’t ask for and was alarmed, just as I was, that the Philippine post office charged me over a thousand pesos for claiming the same. She had paid duties on it from her end. Now this, for 3 books. Not because I’m bragging but strictly for info’s sake, here are some details:
Book A – $32.97
Book B – $16.47
Book C – $10.20
S & H : $31.96
Total : $91.60
Fine, such was what I paid Amazon using my credit card.
Now to the post office’s charges:
Customs Duty Tariff Heading: $49.01
$91.60 (Dutiable value) x 49.35 (exchange rate)
Php 4,520 (dutiable value in peso) x 5% (Rate of duty)
Php226 (Total Customs Duty)
Expanded Value Added Tax
Php 4520 (dutiable value in peso)
Php226 (Customs Duty)
Php250 (Import Processing Fee)
Php250 (Customs Documentary Stamp)
Php15 (BIR Documentary Stamp)
Total Taxable Cost Php5261 x 12% (Evat rate)
Total Payable VAT Php631
Customs Duty Php226
Import ProcessingPhp 250
Customs Stamp Php250
BIR Doc Stamps Php15
Any comments? Luckily my son had enough money but was left with zilch after. The man behind him couldn’t get his package because he was asked to pay P1700 and he didn’t have enough. How inconvenient.
Is it not possible for the Post Office to indicate duties in the registry notice to prevent surprises, unhappy and big surprises? Maybe shocks would be a more apt word.
Moral of the story: When you go to claim a parcel at the post office, do bring lots of cash. The computation I presented above should give you an idea how much. Note that rate of duty for books is 5%. For DVDs it’s 10%, I was told. Be warned.
Have been trying to get into the website of e-2door so I can compare which would have been cheaper: getting the books direct from Amazon or through e-2door. Unfortunately, its system must be down. Promise I’ll get round to that as soon as their site works.
PS: Lest you think any money went to the PO personnel, I don’t think so. He gave an OR plus a flyer entitled “THe Bureau of Customs Postal Service”, a primer on the most frequently asked questions and answers from the Tariff and Customs Code and National Internal Revenue Code.
The Bureau of Customs website is www.customs.gov.ph
Note: I paid my credit card an equivalent of P4467.24 for the $91.60 transaction with Amazon. So this plus P1372 gives P5839.24
Finally, e-2door worked. Here’s a summary of the payments I would have made had I gone e-2door instead of direct from amazon:
Item Unit Price Shipping and Handling Tax and Duty Total Price Peso Equivalent
Book A $16.47 $12.64 $6.75 $35.86 Php1803.64
Book B $32.97 $15.28 $11.19 $59.44 Php2989.74
Book C $10.20 $11.63 $5.07 $26.90 Php1352.92
TOTAL $122.20 Php6146.29
So while I spent P1372 + P4467.24 = Php5839.24, the transaction would have set me off by Php6146.29 via e-2door, for a difference of Php307.05.
If government had charged me P35 like it did a few months ago for a book that cost less than $50, amazon direct would be the way to go. But for beyond $50 purchases, it would be worth considering e-2door given the convenience of having the parcel brought to your doorstep and no shocking duties to pay. At least from the very start, you would know how much you’d need to shell out.
If you are interested in e-2door, go to this site For most packages they can deliver within 2 weeks, but once I experienced a delay. Back in May 2008, I ordered a book from Amazon that cost $19.50. Shipping and handling cost $9.98 for a total of $29.48. For that purchase I only paid P35 in the post office. Oh well, lesson learned.
But imagine if government abided by the Florence agreement, then how much would I have saved going either way? Sigh.