Customs Compliance for Philippine Importers: Things to Know About the Tariff System of the CMTA (Infographic)

On 30 May 2016, the Republic Act (RA) No. 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act was implemented signed, which amended many sections of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP).

This Act changed the course of the relationship between Customs and Trade by modernizing Customs rules and procedures for faster trade, reduce opportunities for corruption while improving Customs service delivery and efficiency of the supply chain.

Customs Compliance for Philippine Importers - Things to Know About the Tariff System of the CMTA

What Happened After the CMTA Was Signed?

From the CMTA, several new concepts emerged – all of which aim to facilitate a smoother transaction between businesses and the Customs, adoption of internal best practices, and simplified and harmonized processes, among others. These new concepts include:

  • Expansion of the customs mandate to include trade facilitation
  • Promotion of ‘paperless’ transactions through the use of information and communication technology.
  • Definition of “free zones” to harmonize rule and regulations governing all special economic zones, free ports, and similar authorities.
  • Provision for tax and duty status in on ‘relief consignments’ to, among others, promote donations and international aid during calamities and major disasters.
  • Provision for legal interests in case of non-payment of duties and taxes.
  • Procedure for an advance ruling to allow early resolution of customs issues even if there is no actual importation involved.
  • The provision on ‘Authorized Economic Operator’ or AEO, an expansion of the original concept of ‘Authorized Operator’ under the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) and adoption of the expanded program of the World Customs Organization (WCO) to promote both trade compliance and security in the supply chain.
  • Definition of ‘Alerts’ to harmonize and simplify rules of the apprehension of shipments, to make the process transparent for the trading community, and to prevent abuse by customs and enforcement officers.
  • Provision for summary remedies such as distraint on personal property and levy on real property to collect duties, taxes, and other charges arising from a customs audit.
  • Creation of a Forfeiture Fund for outsourcing customs functions, facilitating processes, capacity building, and modernization through automation; and
  • Creation of Congressional Customs and Tariff Oversight Committee to oversee the implementation of the CMTA.

Changes in Tariff System

The Tariff Administration and Policy (Title XVI) of the Act are composed of three chapters, with most of the provisions being based on the old code.

  • Chapter 1 – Tariff Commission

A major change in the old code provides the commission the power and function to issue an advance ruling on the tariff classification of imported goods and render rulings on disputes over tariff classification. This section also restates the jurisdiction of the commission over trade remedy measures – dumping, safeguard, and countervailing duties.

  • Chapter 2 – Flexible Tariffs

This section restates the old provisions on “flexible clause” and “promotion of foreign trade.” The flexible clause empowers the President to:

  • Increase, reduce, or remove existing rates of import duty.
  • Establish import quotas or ban imports of any commodity.
  • Impose additional duty on all imports not exceeding 10% ad valorem.
  • Chapter 3 Tariff Nomenclature and Rate of Duty

This section restates many of the old provisions of the provides the tariff classification and duty system for imported and exported goods. This chapter is composed of 3 sections as follows:

  • General Rules on Interpretation (Section 1610)
  • Tariff Nomenclature and Rates of Import Duty (Section 1611)
  • Tariff Nomenclature and Rates of Export Duty (Section 1612)

Implications of the Revised Tariff System

Under the revised tariff system, certain adjustments (depending on the INCOTERM used) may be made on the invoice price to arrive at the dutiable value. The classification process for regularly imported goods remains simple and straightforward, while the opposite can be expected for finished and processed goods as well as for new products that involve composites or mixtures.

The new product classification system provided is mainly based on the 8-digit ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN), the first six digits of which is based on the Harmonized System (HS) while the seventh and eighth digit codes are assigned to ASEAN subheadings with more than 10,000 tariff lines. Beyond the 8-digit level, member countries are allowed to create national subheadings.

How can Importers Make Sense of These Regulations?

All importers are encouraged to review this document on an annual basis to support their due diligence in exercising Reasonable Care in all international transactions with Customs.  Importers and their trusted brokers should work through the questions in this publication annually to ensure that both are using the information, tools, and guidance provided by BoC to submit accurate entries every time.

If you have further questions regarding the Tariff System under the CMTA, contact Excelsior Worldwide Freight Logistics Corp. by visiting our website at, or you may reach us by calling (063) 525-9775 or send us an e-mail through

Excelsior Worldwide conduct free orientation for those who are willing to learn about importation & exportation. It is our advocacy to share our knowledge & experienced for 17 yrs. in the business.

How to Release Imported Item from Philippine Customs

In this post, we will walk you through the steps by step guide on how to release your imported shipments from the Philippine Bureau of Customs (BoC)

Step 1: For new company or individual who wants to import any commodities with commercial value and or in commercial quantity, you first need an Import Clearance Certificate from the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Then you need to apply for Importer’s Accreditation to the Bureau of Customs. Only accredited importers have the privileges to imports any commodities whether regulated imported commodities or freely imported commodities.

Step 2: Import documents required for shipments to the Philippines include:

1. Commercial invoice/Pro-Forma invoice

  •  Should include a detailed description of the goods i.e. what is it made of, what is it part of, what is it used for.

  • The value indicated must be correct. If the shipment consists of more than one item, the importer must provide a value breakdown and ensure that the total amount tally to the total value of the shipment.

  • The value must be transaction value – the price paid or payable – for the item/s in case the item has been provided free of charge or as a gift.

  •  Putting “No Commercial Value” will lead to Customs asking the consignee to provide value evidence such as proof of payment, purchase order, or telegraphic transfer.

  • The invoice should also include the quantity, weight, unit price, currency and country of origin (COO).

2. Bill of lading (for sea freight) or air waybill (for air freight)

  •  Should be filled out completely and accurately.

  •  Make sure all the information is consistent with the commercial invoice.

  •  A revision in the declared value once a shipment reaches the destination port is subject to Customs approval.

  •  Make sure to include a reachable consignee contact so the destination port can easily inform them about the shipment’s arrival and advise of any necessary clearance paperwork.

3. Packing list – A document that details the merchandise in the shipment, along with information on how it was packed, how the items are numbered, the serial numbers, and the weight and dimensions of each item.

4. Applicable special certificates/import clearance/permit depending on the nature of goods being shipped and/or requested by the importer/bank/letter of credit clause, e.g., Food and Drug Administration (FDA) license; and

5. Commercial Invoice of Returned Philippine Goods and/or Supplemental Declaration on Valuation.

6. For a Letter of Credit (L/C) transaction, a duly accomplished L/C, including a Pro-Forma Invoice and Import Entry Declaration for Advance Customs Import Duty (ACID) is required. A Pro-Forma Invoice is required for non-L/C transactions (e.g., Draft Documents against Acceptance (D/A), Documents against Payment (D/P), Open Account (OA) or self-funded documentation).

7. Additional documents for certain imports – Importers bringing in animals, plants, foodstuff, medicine or chemicals must additionally obtain a Certificate of Product Registration from the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration.

Step 3: File an Entry
Entry must be filed in the Customhouse within 30 days from the date of discharge of the last package from the vessel, which shall not be extendible. Failure to file the entry constitutes implied abandonment and will result in the ‘ipso facto’ forfeiture of the goods/shipment.
You or your customs broker may have the software to file Bill of Entry at office or home. If you do not have such facility, you can approach private EDI (Electronic Data Information) service providers who can arrange to submit the data on behalf of you.

Step 4: Payment of Duties and Taxes for ATRIG

  •  An ATRIG is an authority issued by the BIR, addressed to the Commissioner of Customs, allowing the release of imported goods from customs custody upon payment of applicable taxes, or proof of exemption from payment thereof, whichever is applicable.

  • The BIR Revenue Memorandum Order (RMO) No. 1-2016 directs all applications for ATRIGs for excisable products be processed and issued centrally at the BIR National Office in Quezon City.

  •  Only applications of importer-applicant and broker-representative who are duly registered BIR taxpayers will be processed.

  •  An individual importer-applicant must present a photocopy of his/her latest annual income tax return together with the audited financial statements duly stamped received by the BIR. These will be used in the valuation of the individual importer-applicant’s financial capacity to import.

  •  Prior ocular inspection of the imported goods would be conducted if necessary.

Step 5: Release of Cargo
Upon satisfying all these requirements of, you can now retrieve your import goods from the Customs.

The import customs clearance procedure in the Philippines can be very lengthy and tedious, especially for those small and medium businesses. If you need a professional help to ensure a fast and hassle-free release of your import goods, contact Excelsior Worldwide Logistics Corp. today at (063) 525-9775 or send an email to


Dominguez readies Customs reforms

Magtulis, Prinz (2016, June 15). The Philippine Star. Dominguez readies Customs reforms. Retrieved from

In this April 2016 photo, Incoming Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon speaks at a press conference at the Philippine Star building in Manila. / Efigenio Toledo IV

In this April 2016 photo, Incoming Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon speaks at a press conference at the Philippine Star building in Manila. / Efigenio Toledo IV

To rid agency of ‘most corrupt’ tag

MANILA, Philippines – The incoming administration will initiate reform measures at the Bureau of Customs to rid the agency of corrupt practices, incoming finance secretary Cesar Dominguez said yesterday.

“The public is telling us something and we better listen. Are we going to change? Otherwise we will have to force it,” Dominguez said.

“The perception of Customs as the most corrupt agency has to stop,” he added.

Dominguez met with outgoing Customs commissioner Alberto Lina and his successor, Nicanor Faeldon to facilitate the transition at the agency.

ustoms’ tag of being “most corrupt” came from a survey of Social Weather Stations in August last year where it was rated “very bad” by businessmen. Lina could not be reached for comment yesterday. The Department of Finance (DOF) oversees revenue offices such as Customs.

Under incoming president Duterte, Faeldon said the BOC would focus more on trade facilitation instead of just revenue collections.

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The bureau, which traditionally accounts for a fifth of state revenues, had persistently fallen below its collection targets and was even down two percent from previous year as of the first quarter.

Specifically, Customs collected P90.5 billion as of March, lower than P92.3 billion raised in the same period last year, Treasury data showed.

“Performance indicators should contain grading on ease of doing business and facility of trade,” Faeldon said in the same statement.

Transparency will also be prioritized, Faeldon said, adding he will improve accuracy in product valuations by adopting a “trade transparency unit” similar in the US.

Valuations are used as bases for the amount of Customs duties. Under the present administration, weekly valuations of select products were made public through the Customs website.

According to Faeldon, there should be a “daily” monitoring of shipment valuation coupled with updated scanning systems to prevent smuggling.

On the flip side, Faeldon said he would keep the ongoing graveyard shifts and 24/7 operations of Customs personnel, which was meant to declog ports.

For his part, Dominguez said he would continue filing charges against smugglers and erring Customs officials under separate programs to deter illicit trade and raise revenues.

Dominguez, however, expressed dismay that no Customs officer has been fired despite pending cases with the Ombudsman.

As of May 15, there were a total of 282 cases against revenue officials filed by the DOF’s Revenue Integrity Protection Service, 157 of which were filed since 2010.

The cases involved 282 personalities, 216 of whom were sued before the Ombudsman, 61 before the Civil Service Commission and five were referred to their concerned agencies for action.

Of the persons sued, 24 were dismissed from office under President Aquino, while 29 others were suspended and six were fined, DOF data showed.

“We will file as many cases against violators… as we have evidence to justify such actions,” Dominguez said.

“As leaders of the institution, you have to send the message down…,” he said in the statement.

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