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How To Ship Your Car To The Philippines & Why You Shouldn’t

Want to ship your car to the Philippines ? Importing a car here is complex and loaded with paperwork. Read this step-by-step guide to avoid hassles and fines. minutes

04/10/24

  Mins Reading Time

About the author

Hi, I'm Marco Sison. I worked in finance for Fortune 50 companies before retiring early at 41 years old. I have been an expat for over 10 years, living in over 50 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries outside the USA. I am a trusted resource on personal finance and overseas retirement for US News & World Reports, HuffPost, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Association of MBAs, the iTunes documentary Seeking FIRE, and the Amazon Best-Seller- Abroad: Expats That Thrive.

This post may contain affiliate links. I may get a commission if you purchase something using my link. Please note, there is NO ADDITIONAL COST to you. For more information, please see my disclosure.

Importing A Car Into The Philippines

You are excited to move overseas. You have done all your research on living abroad, studied the neighborhoods in Manila, applied for your SRRV visa, and now you want to know how to ship your car to the Philippines.

You have probably never shipped a car abroad before. Most of us haven't. Realized that shipping anything overseas is never as simple as we think it will be. Shipping a car to the Philippines isn't like sending a letter in the mail.

Both you and your car must meet specific criteria before moving to the Philippines. There are laws to follow, agencies to contact, and to be honest, costs are not cheap. But, if you are attached to your car, there are ways to import it into the country. 


Before we get into the "How you ship," let's start with "Can you ship your car to the Philippines?"

LIVING IN THE PHILIPPINES: QUICK FACTS <click to expand>

Currency: Peso

Languages: English and Tagalog

Capital: Manila

Cost of Living

Average Cost of Living, including rent, is ~65% LESS than the US. Manila, ranked 109th out of 210 cities in the world, is the most expensive city to retire to in the Philippines. 

Health Care

A two-class system skews the ranking for the Philippines. Access to healthcare is available to Filipino citizens for free, but at low levels of care. Private insurance offers better quality, but still affordable healthcare similar to the US private insurance model. The high-quality, lower-cost (compared to the US) private healthcare system has put the Philippines on the map for medical tourism.

English Score

The world's leading location for English speaking outsourced call centers. 64% of the country's population speaks English. Most Filipinos under 35 will speak fluent English with a neutral accent.

Quality of Life

Dense city living leads to high pollution, long traffic times, and drives a lower Quality of Life. Living on the islands, in smaller towns, or out in the countryside increase this score dramatically.

2024 Philippines Online Annual Reporting Requirement Guide for Expats
Expat Life in the Philippines: An American Expat’s Pros and Cons
Foreigner’s Guide To Prenuptial Agreements in the Philippines- Protecting Your Money
A Comprehensive Guide To Philippines Health Insurance For Expats
24 Facts About Healthcare In The Philippines Every Expat Must Know
How Do I Send Money to the Philippines? My Remittance Rundown
Best Places To Live In Manila- An Expat Guide To Metro Neighborhoods
An Expat Guide On Where To Eat In Manila [Best Restaurants and Groceries]
Can Foreigners Buy Property In The Philippines? [Options, Tips, Laws]

Page [tcb_pagination_current_page] of [tcb_pagination_total_pages]

Are You Trying To Ship A New Car Into The Philippines?

New cars are easier to bring into the country than used cars.

Regulations make importing a new car more manageable, but "new" has a specific definition when importing cars.

  • Customs only considers a car "new" if:
  • The car is a current or advance year model
  • The car has 125 miles or 200 km on the odometer
  • The car has never been registered
  • You are the first owner
  • If your car doesn't meet the criteria, then it is considered "used."

New or used, shipping a car to the Philippines is loaded with bureaucratic paperwork.   Get a FREE Philippine Motor Vehicle Importation checklist to keep track of every government required document.

Can I Import A Used Car Into The Philippines?

Importing a used car is trickier but still possible.

"Under appendix 1-D of BSP Circular-Letter, Series of 1995, dated October 19, 1995, the importation of used vehicles continues to be regulated and requires prior authorization from the Bureau of Import Services (BIS)"

The criteria for importing used cars falls under Executive Order 877-A. I'll save you from having to Google and read the entire Order. The part you care about states:

Vehicles imported under the "No Dollar Import" program (NDI) – a motor vehicle personally owned by a returning resident or immigrant with GVW not exceeding 3 tons in accordance with the Program's guidelines. 

Short answer to importing a used car is "Yes, you can." You need to follow the procedures to import your car under the "No Dollar Import" program (NDI). 

What cars fit the 3-ton Gross Vehicle Weight (GWV) limit? Cars smaller than a Toyota SUV would be under 3-tons. Image Source

How do I ship my motor vehicle under the No-Dollar Importation (NDI) program?

  • Most Americans and foreigners qualify if they are Special Resident Retiree's (SRRV) Visa holders (under the Philippine Retirement Act).
  • Otherwise, foreigners need a 13g or 13a visa or be United States/Filipino Dual Citizens, or
  • 47A2 Visa holders (Balik-Scientist Program), or
  • A Filipino citizen who has lived abroad for at least one year 
  • Philippine Bureau of Customs
  • Motor vehicles imported under the NDI program must be:
  • Be a Left Hand Drive
  • Have a Gross Vehicular Weight (GVW) under 3-tons/ 3,000 kilograms
  • Must be registered under your name for at least six (6) months before you apply to the Bureau of Import Services (BIS)
  • Have a Certificate of Roadworthiness and Emission Compliance (CREC) issued from the country of origin 
  • Emission Certificate (CREC) must be authenticated by the nearest Philippine Embassy abroad (under RA 8749).

Do you and your car meet all the criteria? Great, now let's talk about costs.

 INSIDER TIP : The NDI program is a one shot deal. You are only allowed to use the NDI program once and you can only bring in one car per family. Don't bring a clunker into the Philippines. Use your allowance wisely. 

What Is The Cost For Shipping A Car To The Philippines?

This is the surprising part. Remember when I said importing a car is not cheap. Car shipping costs roughly $3,000, but that does not include import taxes and fees. We can talk about ways to lower the shipping price, but first, let's break the expenses down into cost for shipping and Taxes, Customs, and Import Duties.

ocean cargo ship to the Philippines

Ocean Shipping Cost to the Philippines

Depending on where you are moving from, transportation costs roughly $2,500 and $4,000 to ship your car to the Philippines.

Here are some budgetary estimates for shipping a car from select cities in the US to Manila. 

Shipping Rates- United States to the PhilippinesGround Shipping RatesOcean Shipping RatesTotal CostEstimated Shipping Days
Denver, Colorado$825$2,200$3,02533
Memphis, Tennesse$850$2,200$3,05047
Miami, Florida$975$2,200$3,17548
Dallas, Texas$1,075$2,200$3,27533
Los Angeles, California$400$2,200$2,60031
Las Vegas, Nevada$500$2,200$2,70031
Portland, Oregon$525$2,200$2,72532
Columbus, Ohio$600$2,200$2,80046
New York, New York$250$2,200$2,45047
Chicago, Illinios$725$2,200$2,92547

Get A Free Quote To Ship Your Car To The Philippines

Follow these directions to add a car to your international moving quote.

  1. Use Complete Household if you plan on combining your car with household goods.
  2. In order to get a quote for a car, select either complete household or part of household as the moving size.
  3. Use Part of Household if it’s only a car.

In the remarks field write exactly what you plan on moving.

Ensure you note down type of car, so our system matches you with a proper mover.

Fill out your contact details to get no-obligation quotes from 5 International Moving Companies

Sit back and wait for the shipping quotes to get emailed to you. Easy-Peasy!

 INSIDER TIP : Ship Your Car + Household Goods To Save The Most Money 

  1. The prices above are for a dedicated 20-foot container load- If you are bringing personal belongings to the Philippines, you can add clothes, furniture, and other household items into the same shipping container.
  2. SAVE EVEN MORE- Retiring to the Philippines under the SRRV program gets you Tax and Duty-free import of your household goods and personal effect (excluding auto).

Partner with a certified international moving expert to ensure competitive rates and no hidden fees.

There are two additional ways to save money on your shipping rate:

  1. The prices above include ground transportation costs- If you drive your vehicle from your city to a port, you can save $300 to $1000, depending on how far you need to drive.
  2. Don't use a container- Your car can be driven on to the ship instead of being loaded inside a shipping container. Ask your car shipping company if RoRo shipping (roll-on/roll-off) can lower your rate.

    WARNING: RoRo means your car is not protected from weather or any external conditions. Make sure you understand what responsibility the shipper accepts to keep your car safe. 

Customs, Taxes, and Duties to Import Motor Vehicles Into the Philippines

Avoid heavy penaties for missing documentation. Download this FREE Shipping A Car To The Philippines checklist to ensure you don't forget a single form. 

Here is where it gets stupid expensive. The Philippine government wants you to buy a motor vehicle locally, so the Philippines gets an economic boost. The import taxes are steep to encourage local purchases.

How to estimate the import tax on your car

  • You will pay three different taxes and duties shipping your car to the Philippines:
  • Customs Duty- 30% for most passenger cars (9-seater or below)
  • VAT- For passenger cars the rate is 12%
  • Ad Valorem Tax- from 15% to 100% depending on engine size

Customs calculates the Duty and VAT taxes based on your car's accepted book value (think Kelly Blue Book, if you are from the US). It does not matter if you bought the car for a laughably low price or if your crazy rich uncle gifted it to you. You are going to pay tax on it.

 INSIDER TIP : Customs will also tax any imported spare parts for repair or replacement. If you are moving to the Philippines long term, another check if spare parts are locally available. Even if you avoid accidents in the country's chaotic traffic, parts will eventually need replacement. 

  • Other Import Fees to Consider
  • Import Processing Fee (IPF)- IPF rates range from $5 to $20 or PHP 250 to PHP 1,000  
  • Documentary Stamp Fee (DSF)- DSF rate is fixed at $5 or PHP 265.
  • Container Security Fee- If you ship your car inside a container, the CSF rate is the peso-equivalent of USD 5 (for 20-footer) or USD 10 (for 40-footer).
  • Certificate of Payment Fee (CPF)- CPF rate is $2 or 100 PHP 100.

 INSIDER TIP : Don't try to calculate your taxes yourself. Contact the Bureau of Customs for help calculating fees and import duties to import your car. You will need your car's:

  • Make
  • Model
  • Year
  • Piston displacement
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), or
  • Chassis number

There is a new process for getting duty fees and import tax estimates. Email your car information directly to the Bureau of Customs at [email protected]The One Stop Processing Center and the Valuation Center no longer provide tax estimates. 

#1 REASON YOU SHOULD NOT SHIP A CAR TO THE PHILIPPINES <click to expand>

real World Import Tax Estimate From Philippine Customs

I emailed the Bureau of Customs to get an estimate on a standard 2018 Toyota Corolla. For a car with an estimated Kelly Bluebook value of $15,000, the estimated import taxes and duties were OVER $12,000. When I say that you should not import a car into the Philippines, it is because your taxes can equal the value of the car!


What Are The Required Documents To Import My Car To The Philippines?

First, it is extremely important your car is covered by a Certificate of Authority to Import(CAI). The CAI, previously named the Prior Import Authority permit (PIA), is your import permit to bring your car into the Philippines. The CAI complete PRIOR to importing your car. Customs can confiscated, impounded, and heavily fine cars without a CAI. 

  • Get your CAI by submitting the following documents to the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau- Import Regulation Division:
  • Completely filled-out and notarized FTEB Application Form
  • Completely filled-out and notarized Affidavit of Undertaking
  • 2x2 Passport Picture
  • Picture of your car
  • Processing fee of ~$30 / PHP 1,500
  • Documentary Stamp Tax Fee $1 / PHP 30.00
  • Motor vehicle registration showing the motor vehicle has been in your name for at least 6-months
  • NOTE: The closest Philippine Consulate to your home city must authenticate all documents.

Submit your CAI application to the FTEB:

Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau- Import Regulation Division

ADDRESS: 1-2F UPRC Building 315 Sen. Gil J. Puyat Ave., Makati City.
TEL: (+632) 811 8231 or (+632) 403 1417
EMAIL 1: [email protected]

EMAIL 2: [email protected]

  • Additional Documents Required To Import Your Car To The Philippines:
  • Foreigners under the Philippine Retirement Act (SRR Visa holders)- Original or authenticated copy of passport, stamped with a valid SRR visa.
  • Foreign Passport Holders (13A & 13G visa Holders)- (1) Original or authenticated copy of passport, stamped with a valid 13A or 13G visa, and (2) Immigrant Card (I-card).
  • Filipino Dual Citizens- (1) Original or authenticated copy of Philippine and Foreign passport, and (2) Original or authenticated copy of Identification Certificate or Oath of Allegiance issued by the Bureau of Immigration or Philippine Consulate/Embassy in lieu of a Philippine passport.
  • For Filipinos/Foreigners of Filipino Descent under the Balik-Scientist Program (47A2 Visa holders) - original or authenticated copy of passport, stamped with a valid 47A2 visa.
  • Philippine Passport holders- Original or authenticated copy of pages with entries of both old and new passport.
  • NOTE: It is helpful if you are present at the port when your car arrives because customs can search your car

Ship Your Car To the Philippines Key Takeaway: 

Don't Bother. Shipping a car to the Philippines is an expensive luxury. I know some expats who abandoned their car at the docks when surprised with a tax bill higher than the car value. Given the shipping rates, onerous taxes, and the bureaucratic documentation process most expats simply purchase a car locally.

Unless you are particularly attached to your car or have money burning a hole in your pocket, skip the red tape and purchase in the Philippines. Not only are you saving money, but helping the local economy as well. 

If you miss a form or forget a step, shipping a car to the Philippines can involve expensive fines and the government seizing your car. Get your step-by-step FREE How-To Import A Motor Vehicle Into The Philippines checklist to organize your application and avoid penalties. 

 INSIDER TIP : Unless you feel the need to drive a 67 Mustang on potholed streets, or just love dealing with government agencies, save the frustration and buy local. You can purchase a new Toyota Corolla from a Philippines dealership for ~$20,000, the same price as the US.

FAQs: Shipping Your Motor Vehicle To The Philippines

Are there restrictions to importing a personal car to the Philippines?

There are restrictions on both the person importing the car and the car:

Vehicle Owner Restrictions: Must hold an SRRV, 13g or 13a visa, be a Dual Citizen, under the Balik-Scientist 47A2 Visa holders Program, or a Filipino citizen who has lived abroad for at least 1 year.

Motor Vehicle Restrictions: Cannot be Right Hand Drive or over 3-tons / 3,000 kg Gross Vehicular Weight (GVW). Motor Vehicle must be registered under your name for at least six (6) months and have a Certificate of Roadworthiness and Emission Compliance (CREC). 

Other Restrictions: Only one (1) motor vehicle per family, the NDI program can only be used once, car must be for personal use, cannot be resold for at least three (3) years, and you must make a personal appearance at the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau prior to Customs releasing your car. 

Get complete details on ways to save on shipping costs at https://nomadicfire.com/shipping-car-philippines/#ndi

What is the cheapest way to ship a car to the Philippines?

Car shipping costs are between $2,500 to $4,000. There are three ways to reduce shipping rates:

  1. Drive the car to the port of departure yourself. Ground transportation costs $300 to $1,500, depending on how far you live from the port.
  2. Use the entire 20-foot container load to ship your additional belongings.
  3. Don't use a container at all. Use RoRo shipping instead. 

Get details on ways to save on shipping costs at https://nomadicfire.com/shipping-car-philippines/#savings

Do I have to pay taxes if I bring my car to the Philippines?

Yes, you are responsible for all customs, duties, and import taxes. The main taxes include: customs duties, Ad Valorem Tax (AVT), and Value Added Tax (VAT). Get a complete breakdown of all the taxes and fees to import your car to the Philippines at https://nomadicfire.com/shipping-car-philippines/#taxes

How much does it cost to ship a car to the Philippines?

Depending on where you are moving from, car shipping costs roughly $2,500 and $4,000 to transport your car to the Philippines. This price does not include any customs, duties, or import tax required for the car. 

You can see a real-world example of the tax costs of importing a car in the link below. https://nomadicfire.com/ship-your-car-to-the-philippines#tax-reason

Find and click on the RED TOGGLE that says 

"#1 REASON YOU SHOULD NOT SHIP A CAR TO THE PHILIPPINES"

What documents are required to import a car to the Philippines?

There is lots of paperwork involved in importing a vehicle into the Philippines. Document required include: a notarized FTEB Application Form, Affidavit of Undertaking, car registration showing the car has been in your name for at least 6-months, passport, and Certificate of Roadworthiness and Emission Compliance (CREC) issued from the country of origin.

Next Steps: Are You Thinking About Moving To the Philippines?

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Useful External Resources For Importing Cars To The Philippines


About the author

Hi, That's me. I'm Marco Sison. I am a survivor of the corporate rat race. I started Nomad FIRE to show you an alternative to the stress and grind of 70-hour weeks to pay off a mortgage, student loans, and countless bills. After getting laid off in 2015, I said screw it all and retired early at 41 years old. I have traveled the last five years to over 40 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries for 70% less cost than the US. I have been featured in: US News & World Reports, Huffington Post, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Best Life, CW Network, Dr. Wealth, and others. [view press...]

Join The New Expat Forums- Connect

We moved the comments to our new Philippines Expat Forums

  • Michael Clark says:

    so roughly 6k to ship and all the taxes but its the same or more to buy the same car locally

  • Hi Marco that was impressive take back thank you for sharing. I would never bring a vehicle to Philippines. But i have looked around for Jet Skis and Ski Boats and prices are ot of hand. In USA you find a good but used Ski Boat or Jet Ski for around 5,000 US dollars. The same Fiberglass Boat similar but not original made (made in the backyard) in Philippines would cost 1.8 million php. I’m tempted on shipping a Boat but I can imagine the headaches. Are there any companies that will do the Taxes and registration for a fee like a legal Fixer.

    • Hi David,

      Thanks for the feedback. I’ve never looked into bringing a boat into the Philippines, but wow, that price difference is big. Let me check with my network and see if I can get you a contact on importing a boat.

      Cheers,

      Marco

      • Steven Jenkins says:

        Marco,
        I’m also interested in shipping a boat to the Philippines for the same reasons mentioned above by David. Mine would be an 18ft dive boat on a trailer. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
        Aloha,
        Steve Jenkins

    • Hi Jay,

      Will you be shipping any of your other belongings to the Philippines or just your car? The international moving company I work with recommends combining the shipments together into a single shipping container to save costs. If you would like a free quote to move everything I can introduce you to a specialist to discuss all the options when moving to the Philippines. Let me know.

      Cheers,

      Marco

  • Ryen E Tarbet says:

    Same question as Jay — I cannot find ANY shipping lines. Can you please list a few?

    Absolutely superb post!!!! Thank you!!!

    • Hi Ryen,

      One of the reasons you are having problems is that importing a car to the Philippines is so expensive, literally many people abandon their cars at customs, rather than pay the taxes.

      Many shippers don’t bother responding to an RFQ (requests for quotes), because they consider it a waste of time as the client almost never accepts the price.

      With that in mind, I can ping my network, but realize that the import duties and taxes will likely more than the value of the car. Are you okay with that?

      Sorry it isn’t better news.

      Cheers,

      Marco

  • JaeMIn Lee says:

    Hi
    Just one question.
    How can I take used car(almost 7 years old car) from South Korea to the Philippines?

    • You can get some quotes to ship your car to the Philippines using this link

      Follow these directions to add a car to your international moving quote.

      1) In order to get a quote for a car, select either complete household or part of household as the moving size.

      2) Use Complete Household if you plan on combining your car with household goods.
      3) Use Part of Household if it’s only a car.

      4) In the remarks field write exactly what you plan on moving. Ensure you note down type of car, so our system matches you with a proper mover.

      5) Fill out your contact details to get no-obligation quotes from 5 International Moving Companies

      6) Sit back and wait for the shipping quotes to get emailed to you. Easy-Peasy!

      Let me know if you have any questions.
      Cheers,

      Marco

  • How much will it cost me to ship my Tesla to the Philippines considering this is non-piston vehicle? Will the government incentivize my car as part of the Environmental promotion for clean air and sustainable energy?

    • Hi Ryan,

      I am unaware of any tax breaks or incentives for electric vehicles. I suggest asking the Bureau of Customs for help calculating fees and import duties to import your Tesla.

      Send the

      Make
      Model
      Year
      Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), or
      Chassis number

      Directly to the Bureau of Customs at [email protected].

      See what they say.

      Good Luck.

    • ChaXologist says:

      Why would you even think of that?

      First of all, it is extremely rare if not impossible to find or set up charging stations in the Philippines specifically for the Tesla vehicle so its close to useless as a method of transportation there.

      Secondly, who are you trying to impress there by paying practically 100% import tax rate which would be at least $40 thousand bucks if it is second-hand?

      Thirdly, some components of the Tesla also require as much maintenance as a regular vehicle if not more. Add to the fact that they are unique and can only be replaced by importing spare parts in Tesla-serving countries to which you have to pay importation taxes on, easily costing you thousands more dollars!

      Unless you are incredibly wealthy and doing it to show off, knock yourself out!

      • non-retard says:

        #1, 90% of all charging is done in the home, ya know, long black wire, plugged into wall, in your house? Sure, if you are an expat living in poverty showing off to bar girls, it’s probably not for you. #2, he is specifically asking about EV since there is a program for green vehicles, so don’t assume 100% tax rate. yes, you are right, if it’s 100% it doesn’t make sense, you are also right if it’s 300% or 900%, but that is not what’s going on here. #3 Which specific components cost more to replace? not brakes or oil or transmission. wipers? yeah there is some repair costs of course, if you get in an accident, but, that goes the same for a Jeep (exotic??) or something other than a Toyota.

  • Dennis Castillo says:

    Wow! that is really EXPENSIVE!, no wonder why no one is doing expedition (overlanding) in the Philippines. Hmmm… disappointing I would like to bring my 4Runner to explore the Philippines (This place is a paradise for me). But still on my bucket list. 🙂

  • ChaXologist says:

    Hello, Marco

    Does this importation tax also apply to off-road UTV vehicles such as a Polaris General?
    How about importing its spare parts for maintenance purposes? Are those components also taxed?

    I’m just curious in this particular area because I contemplated wanting to buy and ship an American UTV vehicle to the Philippines. Upon hearing about the ridiculous tax importation rates as well as the tricky and grueling bureaucratic process to get it done, I abandoned such plan but I still want to hear from you if this counts as a full-fledged vehicle.

    If you are knowledgeable about this subject on motorized vehicles, then how about importing in an E-bike (only pedal-powered assistance) with a 250-watt motor powered by a 750Wh battery such as a Trek’s Rail? Will it count as a motor vehicle or just a bike with its lithium battery as the only component to worry about regarding shipping?

    Thanks for taking your time to respond to me!