1.2 Philippines Regulatory Departments & Quality Control

The Philippines Bureau of Customs sits under the Department of Finance: Bureau of Customs website

The Bureau has the following duties under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (RA 10863):

(a) Assessment and collection of customs revenues from imported goods and other dues, fees, charges, fines and penalties accruing under the CMTA;  

(b) Simplification and harmonization of customs procedures to facilitate movement of goods in international trade;  

(c) Border control to prevent entry of smuggled goods;  

(d) Prevention and suppression of smuggling and other customs fraud;  

(e) Facilitation and security of international trade and commerce through an informed compliance program;  

(f) Supervision and control over the entrance and clearance of vessels and aircraft engaged in foreign commerce;  

(g) Supervision and control over the handling of foreign mails arriving in the Philippines for the purpose of collecting revenues and preventing the entry of contraband;  

(h) Supervision and control on all import and export cargoes, landed or stored in piers, airports, terminal facilities, including container yards and freight stations for the protection of government revenue and prevention of entry of contraband;  

(i) Conduct a compensation study with the end view of developing and recommending to the President a competitive compensation and remuneration system to attract and retain highly qualified personnel, while ensuring that the Bureau remains financially sound and sustainable;  

(j) Exercise of exclusive original jurisdiction over forfeiture cases under the CMTA; and  

(k) Enforcement of the CMTA and all other laws, rules and regulations related to customs administration.  

The Bureau of Customs has 17 Customs Districts (as enumerated below). Each Customs District is headed and supervised by a District Collector, assisted by as many Deputy District Collectors as may be necessary. A Customs District has a designated “principal port of entry”. Generally, a principal port of entry has its “sub-port(s) of entry”.  

Customs District  

Principal Port of Entry  

Customs District I  

Port of San Fernando in San Fernando, La Union  

Customs District II-A  

Port of Manila (POM) in Port Area, Manila  

Customs District II-B  

Manila International Container Port (MICP) in Tondo, Manila  

Customs District III  

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City  

Customs District IV  

Port of Batangas in Batangas City  

Customs District V  

Port of Legazpi in Legazpi City  

Customs District VI  

Port of Iloilo in Iloilo City  

Customs District VII  

Port of Cebu in Cebu City  

Customs District VIII  

Port of Tacloban in Tacloban City  

Customs District IX  

Port Surigao in Surigao City  

Customs District X  

Port of Cagayan De Oro in Cagayan De Oro City  

Customs District XI  

Port of Zamboanga in Zamboanga City  

Customs District XII  

Port of Davao in Davao City  

Customs District XIII  

Port of Subic in Subic, Zambales  

Customs District XIV  

Port of Clark in Clark, Pampanga  

Customs District XV  

Port of Aparri in Aparri, Cagayan  

Customs District XVI  

Port of Limay in Bataan  

Customs District XVII Port of Limay  

Please see the following link for a list of restricted items.

Please see the following link for a description of documentation requirements.


The taxing authority in the Philippines falls under Bureau of Internal Revenue

During times of emergency humanitarian goods can receive fast track customs clearance procedures and be imported duty free. However, that is on a case by case basis and importers should not assume that humanitarian goods will always receive those privileges.  

Exempt transactions

The following goods, services and transactions are exempted from VAT:  

  • agricultural and marine food products in their original state; 
  • fertilizers, seeds, seedlings, fingerlings, and feeds and feed ingredients; 
  • importation of personal and household effects of persons resettling in the Philippines; 
  • importation of professional instruments, wearing apparel, and domestic animals; 
  • services subject to percentage tax; 
  • agricultural contract growers and millers; 
  • health care services; 
  • educational services; 
  • agricultural cooperatives, and cooperatives that are non-agricultural and non-electric in nature; 
  • residential lots worth at most P1,500,000, or house and lots worth at most P2,500,000 
  • monthly lease of residential units at most P15,000; 
  • books and mass media publications (e.g. newspaper and magazine); 
  • transport services by non-Philippine carriers; 
  • cargo vessels and aircraft; 
  • financial services; 
  • sales to senior citizens and persons with disability; 
  • from 2019, drugs prescribed for diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension; and, 
  • annual sales of any other goods or services not exceeding P3,000,000. 


The Bureau of Food and Drug (BFAD) and the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Product Standards (BAFPS) regulate food quantity and import and export of agriculture products within the Philippines. Under the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, FDA was made responsible for the safety of processed food products while the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) made BAFPS accountable for fresh and primary agricultural and fisheries products. 

The Department of Agriculture is responsible for food safety in the primary production and post-harvest stages of the supply chain. The Department of Health is responsible for the safety of processed and pre-packaged foods, both locally produced and imported, and the conduct of epidemiological studies.  Local government units (LGUs) will monitor the compliance with food safety standards of food businesses such as slaughterhouses, dressing plants, wet markets, supermarkets, school canteens, restaurants, catering establishments, as well as street food sales.  The Department of the Interior and Local Government, in collaboration with the DA and DOH will supervise the enforcement of food safety and sanitary rules and regulations.  A Food Safety Regulation Coordinating Board was created to monitor compliance with the law, coordinate management and planning during food safety emergencies, and establish policies and procedures for coordination among agencies involved in food safety. 

The Department of Health is the executive department of the Philippine government responsible for ensuring access to basic public health services by all Filipinos through the provision of quality health care and the regulation of all health services and products. 

Organizations wishing to import medicine and/or medical equipment must check carefully the regulations provided by the Department of Health as certain items are prohibited: Department of Health website

The Philippines Government has trade agreements in place with ASEAN, an economic partnership agreement with Japan, European Free Trade Association Free Trade Agreement. The Philippines and EFTA members – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland – signed a free trade agreement in 2016 which is expected to enter into force in 2018. 

 Additionally, the Philippines has free trade agreements with China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Australia and New Zealand under ASEAN. Visit the Department of Trade and Industry website on Free Trade Agreements and the Tariff Commission website for a list of Philippine trade agreements and corresponding tariff schedules and commitments.  Other trade-related information is also available at the Philippine National Trade Repository website.

For more information on regulatory departments contact details, please see the following link: 4.1 Philippines Government Contact List



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