Saturday, May 16, 2009

Clarificatory Guidelines for the Duty-free Importation of Books

The DOF are now in the hot seat and widely ridiculed by the blogging world for the issuance of its new policy on the importation of books. Last March 24, 2009, the DOF issued the Department Order 17-09 titled, "Clarificatory Guidelines for the Duty-free Importation of Books".

That is quickly followed by importation of books FAQ.

What does it says?

1. Only books that are educational, scientific and cultural materials listed in Annex A to E in the Florence Agreement and not for sale, barter or hire has 0% duty. The one who will determine and certify that the books falls under the Florence Agreement is UNESCO.

> When you purchase books or other materials online (must not be in commercial quantity), you must now need a certificate from UNESCO addressed to the DOF that the book you are importing is educational, scientific or cultural.

>ONLY IN THE PHILIPPINES!!! UNESCO is functioning as a regulating agency for the Philippine government. BTW, UNESCO is an NGO! Pero ok na din kaysa nmn ang BOC mag determine!

2. The economic, technical, vocational, scientific, philosophical and historical books that is not for sale, barter or hire which is duty and vat free as mentioned in Section 105(s) of the TCCP will need certification from DepEd or CHED.

> Yes! May bagong pagkakakitaan na naman ang DepED at CHED.

The duty and vat free imported books which can be sold, bartered or hired under RA 8047 are only those books solely used for book publishing. When our congress people wrote the law, the intention was to promote the book publishing industry daw.

>WTF?!! First of all why will somebody import books for book publishing? Parang sinabi nila na yung user's manual lang sa paggamit ng printing press at book binding ang duty at vat free.

4. Books are still vat free but you need clearance from DOF -.-". According to the DO:

The guidelines herein provided do not cover the treatment of imported books for Value-Added Tax (VAT) purposes as section 109(r) of the 1997 Tax Code, as amended, provides that the importaion of books is VAT-exempt, though applicant /importer still needs to secure DOF confirmatory-exemption clearance for this purpose.

5. If you import books that is for sale, barter or hire, then it is subject for duty. 1% for educational, scientific, cultural, economic, technical, vocational, philosophical, and historical books. 5% for other books.

> This one is really confusing. How will you say a book is not educational? Base on their definition:
Educational books - consisting essentially of textual matter of any kind, and printed in any language or characters. This includes textbooks including educational workbooks sometimes called writing books, with or without narrative textx, which contain question or exercises. Such books, with or without narrative texts, which contain questions or exercises. Such books may be bound (in paper or with soft or stiff covers) in one or more volumes, or may be in the form of printed sheets comprising the whole or a part of the complete work and designed for binding. Educational books are instructive and informative books; it relates to teaching and learning. Examples: Textbooks, workbooks, writing books for grade school, high school and college students and used as a basis for study in the academe.

From my point of view that according to their definition, all books are educational, even fictional books like Twilight. Heck, even tantric texts like Kama Sutra is educational.

If fictional books are not educational then why are we required in school to pass book reports.

Why do we even have a subject in college called world literature?

Honestly, what kind of brains does DOF people have? Why are we encouraged and sometimes required to read works like Tom Sawyer, Odyssey, Count of Monte Cristo, The Alchemist and many more. Maybe 'Twilight' is a special case because they think that books that contains mythological characters is not educational.

Also, it is not stated in the Florence Agreement that it should be books for personal use only that is duty and vat free

Book publishing industry? How about the retail stores? Aren't they a domestic industry also?

Tips for my fellow countrymen: say goodbye to Fully Booked and National Bookstore and say hello to and


  1. uhm but if i get books online i still get taxed by customs when i claim the books from the PO.

  2. Get a copy of the pdf file then print it. Show it to them. If they ask where you got that department order, tell them from bureau of customs website. If you object thoroughly then they have no choice but to give in. Basta marunong ka mangatwiran wla silang lusot.

  3. Hi there! I just downloaded your calculator and i just found out i was overcharged at the PO. Aaaargh! Can you please help me out?!? I used the the regular mail so i just go to the PO nearest to my place and would usually pay only P35. That's why i was shocked when they charged me P1,365 for cosmetics. Do you happen to know how much is the legal fee for cosmetics, books and CDs/DVDs? Can you also tell me what is the legal amount of the package for them to charge me taxes and is shipping cost included in the calculation? And lastly can you teach me how to calculate manually so that i can check if i am being swindled by the old people in the PO. Thanks so much for the help! Oh, i really appreciate all the hard work you've done with the calculator!

  4. depends on what kind of cosmetics. you have to be specific. books are duty and tax free but they may ask for dof permit before they do so. before you buy books, go to dof first and furnish a duty and tax free exemption. dont know how much it is going to cost but better go there so you can weigh your options next time. if they do charge u with the books. 1% - educational, 5% - non educational. cd/dvd is 0% if there is nothing on it (as in blank) but if there it has recorded content, its 10%. btw next time, ask for the tariff heading/tariff code per item so you will know that they know their stuff and not just making up things to put you on a bind.

    ok back to studying.

  5. may ADVALOREM TAX ba ang vintage cars kung i-import to? san i babase ang pag compute ng AVT? sa year model ba? o ca classify ung vintage car as non-essential goods (20% of dutiable value ang AVT)? hope you can answer my question...
    hindi kasi nasagot to ng prof ko nung college eh

  6. hmm. d ko alam paano i-approach yung question na to. yung vintage car ba e for display lang ba or may possibility pa tung tumakbo? tanong ko din sa prof ko.

  7. @ezekiel

    AVT yung excise tax nya inde sa non-essential goods. kasi gaano kaluma, motor vehicle pa rin sya.

  8. so mababa lang pala ang babayaran na AVT sa vintage cars...

    salamat po

  9. hi. i know this issue has been resolved quite some time ago but I still have some questions as to whether taxes/duties are imposed on imported used books meant for resale/distribution in the philippines. if you could clarify the matter for me i would be deeply appreciative. thanks! = )

  10. Actually d pa rin sya na resolve kasi yung department order is still effective. wlang bagong order nilabas na nag suspend sa directive na yun. before the do, what is in practice is that if its for commercial purposes they charge duties and taxes even though there is no distinction written in the law. I suggest that you get tax exemption certificate from the department of finance. If they refuse, fight for it. Its in the law -- Section 105 of Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, as amended and Section 109 of National Internal Revenue Code. There are instances kasi na kailangan mo makipag debate. Wag ka matakot to fight what you think is right.

  11. So basically if i want to open a bookstore and need to import books for that purpose I would have to pay 1% or 5% duty on them depending on their classification, according to the guidelines set right now...Thanks for the clarification. = )

  12. Hi. I'm from Korea who live in Davao. I bought a book from a Korean bookstore in Korea by on-line and sent here by DHL. The book costs around $10 and sending fee was around $15. But Manila customs chaged me P1,530 duty for it. So I asked Davao DHL office to look into it. It took more than 12days to get call from DHL. Both(customs and DHL) quite annoying! The answer was that they upgraded my parcel from $10(+sending fee $15) to $60. And DHL said I have to pay. So I claimed everywhere I could do... like the bookstore and Korea DHL, and Manila DHL Customer center. And finally I got last fee P548. Still annoying. It took more than 20 days.
    Anyway the thing that I want to know is that how much Hi. I'm from Korea who lives in Davao. I bought a book from a Korean bookstore in Korea by on-line and sent here by DHL. The book costs around $10 and it is not for sale. Sending fee was around $15. But Manila customs chaged me 1,530 Pesos duty for it. So I asked Davao DHL office to look into it. It took more than 12days to get call from DHL. Both(customs and DHL) quite annoying! The answer was that they upgraded my parcel from 10 $ to $65. And DHL said I have to pay. Even they do that, it's still not for sale and it's about anthropology.Very educational. Pls, can you tell me what to do?
    I'm still waiting for the answer from Manila DHL customer center...
    Anyway the thing that i want know is that how much dutiable value for an imported article is. Can you tell me how much it is? Some said it's P2000 and some said $50. If you tell me I can post the correct price on the korean websites so people can be careful when they send something to the Philippines. Sorry for my English and thanks a lot.

  13. Sorry for above post. All messed up. I tried to rewrite it but I couldn't. Sorry again.

  14. hi, i'm planning to buy some disney dollars online for my nephew which is around $23 + $4 (shipping). can you tell me the tariff rate (or the duty rate) for bank notes? and is it subject to excise tax? or since the total amount, including the shipping fee is below $50, the taxes are waived?

    btw, can you tell me the duty rate for the breast pills (worth $30 + $5 shipping fee. weighs around 400mg). i'm planning to buy it also kc. hope to hear from you soon. thanks for taking reading!

  15. Hi Katsky, i'm chloe. do you happen to know if Customs has a new regulations about importing cosmetics from china? i have a friend who imported cosmetics from china and she was asked to have those items checked by bfad. i personally ordered cosmetics from china last feb but i didn't encounter the bfad checking thing. can you tell me if you have a new announcement about this? Thanks

  16. i dont know any new orders but from what i know there are certain cosmetics na need ng bfad permit. i think its something got to do with quality control policies of the government. maybe they are a little bit cautious especially about the notoriety of goods coming from china (melanine, lead paint, etc.). check bfad website maybe you can get help there or call their hotline. try checking with dti also.

  17. hellow, im a customs ad student , do you have previous regulations of customs, like CMO's and CAO's of 2008. kindly upload it or send to my email specially the regulation of PASS 5. Thankyou.

  18. hi katsky. im new into importing and i need to know how much ang customs tax sa ladies shoes? i tried finding it sa website,, and i found MFN numbers. I dont understand how this works though, could u give me the rate?

  19. katsky, do you have a list of cosmetics from China that needs to be checked by BFAD? I'm planning to order Benefit cosmetics from china but I'm kinda worried about the customs policies, if there are. Do you have a list of brands of cosmetics that needs to be checked first?