Home Business Ideas Importing and Exporting Business in the Philippines (Step-by-Step Guide)

Importing and Exporting Business in the Philippines (Step-by-Step Guide)


Imported products are goods purchased from foreign countries and is used in another country. These goods are commonly transported or shipped by plane. Importing and exporting business of goods is one way of providing goods to customers that are not available locally.


However, there are factors that regulate importing of goods in the Philippines that concerns the public health and safety, international commitments, national security, and rationalization/development of local industry. The common goods that are imported into the Philippines are gadgets, cosmetic materials, and apparel.

How to apply for registration of importers

Importers can file their application at the CIIS or Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service. The Department of Finance had issued a Department Order 012-2014 that pertains to the accreditation process for importers. All declared importers either individual broker or organization should secure the following documents:

  • Accreditation from the Account Management Office and Bureau of Customs
  • Bureau of Internal Revenue Importer Clearance Certificate

How to qualify as an importer?

To qualify as an importer, an individual or an organization must meet the criteria listed below:

  • An existing place of business in the Philippines and registered with SEC
  • Complies with BIR registrations
  • No cases pertaining to payments of tax
  • No records of any delinquent account
  • No record of any tax-related or criminal case
  • Must regularly using the eFPS or the electronic filing and payment system in filing all the required tax returns and payment of taxes
  • Submit regularly all information returns

Documentary requirements

  • Mayor’s permit
  • VAT or Non-VAT certificate
  • TIN Card of the principal officers
  • By-laws and articles of incorporation (for corporations)
  • Articles of partnership and by-laws (for partnerships)
  • Certificate of registration with the Cooperative Development Authority (for cooperatives)
  • Proof of registration with DTI (for sole proprietorships)
  • 2×2 photos of principal officers with signature at the back

Other supporting documents are the following:

  • Audited financial statements ( for the previous three years)
  • Summary of importation
  • BIR and BOC clearance of principal officers
  • Certificate of registration with the Philippine Board of Investments
  • Income Tax Returns ( for the previous three years)
  • Affidavit of statement of assets and liabilities
  • List of items regularly imported

How to file the application form?

  • If the head/main office of the importer is located in Metro Manila, the application form shall be filed with the Office of the Assistant Service Director for Administration.
  • Those importers outside Metro Manila may register with the Office of the District Collector of the Port/Sub-Port Collector that covers the physical location of the main office of the importer.
  • The documents of the applicant will be assigned to an agent for verification or validation.
  • A certificate of registration along with the assigned registration number will be issued to the applicant after the approval by the Director.

Customs procedures in importing products into the Philippines

All imported items involve import taxes, except those covered by another regulation or cited in the Tariff and Customs Code. The importer must file the entry form at the Customs Office within 30 days after unloading the last package. Otherwise, the cargo will be confiscated by the IPSO.

There are three classifications of imports such as:

  • Regulated commodities
  • Freely Importable Commodities
  • Prohibited or banned commodities

Documents required for importing goods to the Philippines

  • Pro forma invoice or commercial invoice
  • Air waybill (for air freight) or bill of lading (for sea freight)
  • Certificate of origin
  • Packing list
  • Special certificates or import clearance/permit
  • Commercial Invoice of Returned Philippine Goods or Supplemental Declaration on Valuation
  • A duly accomplished Letter of Credit transaction
  • Import Entry Declaration for Advance Customs Import Duty
  • Pro-forma invoice such as Draft Documents against Acceptance (for non-L/C transactions)

Import Procedures

Pursuant to the import procedures, there are products that require special certificates such as animals, plants, medicines, foodstuffs, cosmetics, and chemicals. However, sensitive products like poultry meat, corn, pork, coffee, and sugar are under the Tariff-Rate Quotas.


How to register imported cosmetics in the Philippines

  • There should be an appointed Licensed Pharmacist

Anyone who is applying for a license to operate a cosmetic company must have an appointed licensed pharmacist. This is to ensure that the person who will sign the papers is knowledgeable about the safety of the products and complies with the standard operating procedure or SOP.  The SOP must follow the FDA Requirements of Good Distribution Practice.

Likewise, the FDA requires the presence of a pharmacist during the inspection in the company and to sign the LTO application form.

  • The ingredients of the cosmetic products should be properly checked

To ensure that the cosmetic products are safe for human, the FDA mandates that the products must not contain ingredients that are not approved by the FDA. The applicant should have the list of the ingredients when applying for the Certificate of Product Registration. While the application is not yet approved, the applicant is not required to conduct laboratory tests.

  • Continuous registration process

The registration process for cosmetic products takes longer time. The registration process doesn’t stop after your application for the License to Operate as Cosmetic Distributor/Importer was granted. You still need to register every single cosmetic product and it would take about 12 weeks. This means that it would take time before you can see your products on the market.

Read: BDO SME Loan -Small Business Loan

Prior to applying for registration, it makes sense if you seek some advice so that you’ll be guided during the application process, thus avoid denial letter from the FDA.