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!


  1. tabs says:


    I don’t have any experience ordering a little over 50 USD. What kind of shipping are you going to use? As far as I know, any package and shipping combined that totals over 50 USD will get you taxed.


  2. tabs says:


    I don’t have any experience ordering at YesStyle. But as I checked the site, I noticed they are going to use FedEx (in which I had nothing but bad experiences with) for their international shipping. If I am not mistaken, and based on personal experience of ordering a package of around 150 USD (item and shipping combined), I got taxed around 2600-2800. You cannot negotiate with FedEx taxes (which is higher taxes than local PO) since they will claim that they already paid for it.

    The problem here, assuming you ordered 150 USD total of items, and they pay for the shipping, estimate of 49 USD, then that would total around 200 USD. Hence, you will get taxed higher. Remember, taxes are based on ITEM COST + SHIPPING COST, not just the items ordered. It would be a good idea to contact them and asked them if they will declare the shipping as FREE, or not. Hope this helps.


  3. kooka says:

    Hello, I believe this thread is still alive.

    I am planning to order CDs and DVDs from Yesasia, and it is my first time ordering something from the internet–please orient me with the basic procedure of international shipping. Sumakit na nga ang ulo ko kababasa ng mga unfortunate experiences ng ibang tao.

    Anyway, Yesasia offers free shipping for products greater than USD39. Does anyone know what courier Yesasia uses? They also said that you can specify FedEx, DHL and EMS as the courier, but you would shoulder the shipping fee if you do so.

    The total amount of the items I plan to buy summed up to USD200. Do you think it’s better if I ordered them separately (since it’s free shipping naman), so the declared value of each parcel would be lower (at hindi gaanong pag-initan ng customs if ever may mapunta sa kanila)? But then again, it’s harder to deal with numerous separate packages than just one.


  4. tabs says:


    I’ve ordered from YesAsia a few times way way back. Unfortunately, I cannot recall my experiences with them (taxes and shipping method). I do believe I didn’t have any problems though.

    Ordering from the net, Internationally is rather simple, you simply have to pay a high amount of shipping cost and tax. Since YesAsia offers free shipping, you just had to deal with the tax. Wait time varies, sometimes, the indicated time will not be followed. I am lucky enough to not have experience lost packages.

    Please do note that nowadays, taxes are getting more and more notorious. I would assume they will use FedEx. If given the choice between FedEx or EMS, here’s how I would break them down.

    .// FEDEX – Door to door, higher tax, cannot negotiate tax, shorter wait time since they have their own logistic
    .// EMS – Claim at Pasay PO, can negotiate tax, longer wait time since you will have to wait for the PO notice

    So if you prefer door to door service, and doesn’t really care about paying for more taxes, then get FedEx, otherwise EMS. I have no experience with DHL. If possible, get UPS, I had nothing but good experiences with UPS.

    For an order of 200 USD, assuming EMS, your tax will be on an estimate of 2985 PHP (I’m no expert, I just estimate it based on my recent EMS purchase receipt). BUT, if they declare the shipping cost, it would increase your tax more. I would clear it with the website if they will indicate the shipping as FREE or not.

    Splitting the products are okay, but some websites will not allow it since they will spend more on shipping that way. You can try e-mailing them and ask them if it is possible, or order your packages every week and split them to 50 USD and below only. =p


  5. eun says:

    uhm hi~ I just wanna ask.. Will a package from China to Philippines using SAL shipping method still be handed over to customs? I used EMS before and it was handed over to customs. I was charged 2000php for a package. If possible, I want to avoid paying “high” extra charges…


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