Export, Innovate, Invest - The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service

Import Regulations - Philippines

Introduction

The Philippines is a member of the WTO and APEC and has made market access commitments under both the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) and a number of bilateral agreements of various types.

General

Import Tariffs and Customs Rules

Directories of the Philippine Bureau of Customs' Executive Orders, and Memorandums and Circulars, are available online.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, through the Multilateral Market Access Division (TMA), offers market access information like tariffs, taxes, rules of origin and some entry procedures to Canadian exporters.

For further information, please click on the following link:

Information can be obtained also by contacting TMA directly by fax at (613) 944-0757, or by email at TMA@international.gc.ca.

Guidelines for Importers

The Department of Trade and Industry lists the following guidelines for local companies negotiating an import contract:

  • Only companies with a registered business name are allowed to import.
  • The necessary business permits for importation are issued by the Bureau of Trade Regulation and Consumer Protection (BTRCP) (for sole proprietorship businesses) and by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for partnerships or corporations.
  • The products to be imported should be classified according to one or other of the following categories:
    • Liberalized;
    • Regulated;
    • Prohibited items.
  • An "Application for Importation" then needs to be made. An Importer can apply for importation through a Letter of Credit and Non-L/C Import Arrangement, namely: Open Account (OA), Documents Against Acceptance ((D/A), Documents Against Payment (D/P), Direct Remittance (D/R), Self-Funded (S/F), No-Dollar Import Arrangement and Importations on Consignment basis. Many of the larger local banks handle the necessary documentation for their customers.
  • Release of Shipment is usually affected by the Bureau of Customs.

Labelling

Every imported or locally manufactured product must display the following information:

  • Registered trade or brand name;
  • Duly registered trademark;
  • Duly registered business name;
  • Address of the manufacturer, importer or re-packer of the consumer product in the Philippines;
  • General make or active ingredients;
  • Net quantity of contents, in terms of weight, measure or numerical count in the metric system;
  • Country of manufacture, if imported;
  • If a consumer product is manufactured, refilled, or re-packed under license from a principal, the label must state this.

The following additional information may also be required by the government agency responsible for specific sectors:

  • Whether the product is flammable or inflammable;
  • Directions for use, if necessary;
  • Warning of toxicity;
  • Wattage, voltage or amperes;
  • Process of manufacture used, if necessary.

Information on additional regulatory requirement in selected sectors is provided below.

Non-Tariff Barriers/ Trade Risks

Non-tariff barriers and trade risks can be a concern in an environment such as the Philippines. In certain sectors, the level of piracy can represent a non-tariff barrier, or at the least a commercial risk to exporters, while in others smuggling can represent a serious competitive impediment. Public sector project can suffer from delays for a variety of reasons, including slow and complex decision-making procedures. In addition, exporters and investors in a variety of industries complain about bureaucratic corruption and red tape.

Specific Sectoral Regulations

Agriculture & Agri-Food Products

Live Animals

Like Canada, the Philippines is a signatory to CITES, a convention protecting endangered species and limiting trading in the products derived from them.

Import protocols exist for traditional food and pet animals from Canada which include but are not limited to bovine, porcine, poultry, equine, ratites, and other domesticated ruminants. However, a Veterinary Quarantine Clearance(VQC) which serves as an import permit needs to be secured first from the Bureau of Animal Industry.

Given the BSE occurrence in Alberta in May 2003, imports of live bovine animals and their meat and meat products are presently subject to conditions which are largely based on OIE guidelines.

Given the February 2004 incidence of avian influenza in the Fraser Valley, B.C., the Philippines has temporarily banned the importation of live poultry and its meat and meat products from the province of British Columbia.

Agricultural and Food Products

All bulk agricultural product shipments must be accompanied by a corresponding export/sanitary certificate from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or an appropriate agency (e.g. Canadian Grains Commission for food and feed grains). All federally inspected meat and food processing plants in Canada are allowed to export to the Philippines.

Processed food and beverage products are required to be registered with the Bureau of Food and Drug prior to being sold commercially in the Philippine market. Generally, food regulations are based on guidelines of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Product registration is the responsibility of the Philippine importer/agent/distributor.

Fisheries and Marine Resources

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Department of Agriculture

Computer Software - Intellectual Property Protection

Software piracy continues to be a big problem in Asia, including the Philippines. The Business Software Alliance office in the country is urging the government to protect copyrights, step up enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) and increase awareness of using legal software.

The Optical Media bill regulating the use of optical media in the country was passed by the Philippine Congress. This will help curb piracy by limiting the materials used to propagate intellectual property-infringement. It will require companies or individuals engaged in the reproduction of compact disks and other "optical media" to secure licenses and institutionalize a "source ID code system".

Forest Industries

Forest Management Bureau, Department of Environment & Natural Resources

Health Industries

Local importers and distributors of medical equipment are required to obtain a license from the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD), which is under the control of the Department of Health (DOH) to operate. Philippine laws require pharmaceutical firms to label their products with their generic names and doctors are obliged to prescribe medicines by their generic names instead of their brand names.

Cosmetics

Cosmetic products that do not contain active ingredients are required to undergo product listing. Cosmetic products that contain active or restricted ingredients are required to seek BFAD registration and undergo laboratory testing before they can be sold locally.

Consumer Products

Bureau of Product Standards, Department of Trade & Industry

Chemicals

Republic Act 6969 (RA 6969) requires notification by way of a technical data package to the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for chemicals not included in the country chemical database or the Philippine Inventory of Chemicals and Chemical Substances (PICCS). Prospective importers should contact the DENR for more information. The DENR considers PICCS to be complete. However, there are still omissions and errors. This situation results in costly and time-consuming notification for chemicals that have legally been on the Philippine market for many years. Similarly, certain hazardous substances such as arsenic compounds, are subject to Chemical Control Orders (CCOs). CCOs are issued by the DENR. They regulate and limit the use of certain compounds. Specifications in CCOs vary from product to the next. To date, there are no restrictions with regard to chemicals that could be used in the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction or related explosives. However, this could change in the near future subject to anti-terrorism legislation.

November 2012