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

11/23/2020

Nomadic FIRE Ship Your Car To The Philippines

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>

Living in the Philippines: Quick Facts

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.

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). 

Nomadic FIRE Toyota 4Runner GVW 3 Tons

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.

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 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 Cost
Los Angeles, California$400$2,200 $2,600
Las Vegas, Nevada$500$2,200 $2,700
Portland, Oregon$525$2,200 $2,725
Columbus, Ohio$600$2,200 $2,800
New York, New York$250$2,200 $2,450
Chicago, Illinios$725$2,200 $2,925
Denver, Colorado$825$2,200 $3,025
Memphis, Tennesse$850$2,200 $3,050
Miami, Florida$975$2,200 $3,175
Dallas, Texas$1,075 $2,200 $3,275
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 INSIDER TIP : There are three 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. 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.
  3. 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. 

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. 

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

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.

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 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.
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 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 boc.cares@customs.gov.phThe 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!

Nomadic FIRE Philippines Import Car Tax 1
Nomadic FIRE Philippines Import Car Tax 2


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: FTEB@dti.gov.ph

EMAIL 2: fteb_ird@dti.gov.ph

  • 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
Nomadic FIRE Philippines Shipping A Car 1

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. 

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 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 that will be required.

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?

Our Retirement Guides Have All The Insider Tips.

  • Want to know more about Living in Manila? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Retiring in Manila.
  • Do you already have a legal visa to live in the Philippines? Read about the SRRV Visa here.
  • Retirement Living Guides for Cebu and Dumaguete coming soon. Sign up in the box below for updates.
  • Download the FREE Shipping A Car To The Philippines Checklist using the button below.

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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, Hacknoon, CW Network, The Times of Israel, Dr. Wealth, and others. [view press...]

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