Foreign Donations to the Philippines



Philippine laws and regulations allow tax and duty exemption privileges for certain donations from overseas.

1. The Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (Presidential Decree No. 1464), as amended, provides for exemption from the payment of import duties for the following items:

2. Section 109 (y) of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 exempts from the value-added tax the "sale, importation, printing or publication of books and any newspaper, magazine, review or bulletin which appears at regular intervals with fixed prices for subscription and sale and which is not devoted principally to the publication of paid advertisements".

3. Presidential Memorandum Order No. 36, s. 1992 also authorizes the "importation and donation of food, medicine and equipment for use in the government relief and rehabilitation programs for calamity affected areas". Endorsement would be required from the Department of Social Welfare and Development for relief items, the Department of Health for medicines, and the Department of National Defense for rehabilitation equipment. The Office of the President issues the necessary clearances for donations under this facility, which will serve as basis for the Bureau of Customs to process and release the donation.

4. Diplomatic Notes No. 1071 of the US Embassy and No. 3001 of the Department of Foreign Affairs provide that the Philippine government will accord duty-free entry into the Philippines, as well as exemption from internal taxation, of supplies of goods approved by the US government, donated to or purchased by the United States voluntary, nonprofit relief and rehabilitation agencies qualified under United States government regulations, and consigned to such organizations, including branches of these agencies in the Philippines which have been approved by the Philippine government.

5. Article XIV Section 4(4) of the Philippine Constitution provides that "subject to conditions prescribed by law, all grants endowments, donations, or contributions used actually, directly, and exclusively for educational purposes shall be exempt from tax".


Donations from abroad may qualify for duty exemption depending on the donee/consignee or recipient, and the nature of the item to be donated.

1. The specified donee/consignee or recipient must be qualified to receive donations on a tax or duty free basis.

2. The items to be donated may be recommended for duty-free entry provided they are:

Note: Certification for duty-free importation is made on a per shipment basis to ensure that each request satisfies the policy guidelines of NEDA.


The following organizations and entities may qualify for duty free importation of donations:


The following items donated from overseas may be allowed duty free entry:

Note: Only non-profit religious and charitable (except civic and service) institutions, government agencies and hospitals, and private primary and secondary hospitals may be allowed to receive donated essential machinery and equipment including spare parts and accessories on a duty free basis.

Note: No pharmaceutical product intended for donation will be accepted or distributed unless it is registered with BEAD, in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act 3720. All donated drugs issued clearance by BEAD are subject to strict monitoring by BEAD for intended usage.

Important: Consumer items such as gas stoves, television sets, air conditioning units, refrigerators, office or home furniture, bicycles, towels, drapes / curtains, sheets, blanket, toys, among others, are not considered priority items for economic development and therefore do not qualify for duty exemption.

The importation of textile articles commonly known as used clothing from any country of origin is absolutely prohibited. (Republic Act 4653, Customs Memorandum Order No. 14, s. 1986, DSWD Department Order No. 28, s. 1999).


The following documents will be required in requesting for duty-free certification for incoming donations from overseas:

1. From the donor:

Important: The name listed as donee/consignee or recipient in the Deed of donation must be the same as that appearing in the shipping documents.

2. From the donee/consignee or recipient


The following additional documents would be needed, depending on the nature and type of the donation:

1.    For essential machinery and equipment

 2.    For books, magazines, newspapers and other periodicals

3. For computer equipment and other educational, scientific, and cultural materials

4. For medicines

o   Generic name/brand name

o   Formulation (with English translation)

o   Dosage forms/strengths

o   Batch/lot number and expiration date (shelf life of at least 6 months upon arrival in the Philippines)

o   Name and address of manufacturer

Note: The recipient or donee/consignee will need to coordinate with BFAD for the inspection and collection of samples for Lab Analysis prior to the issuance of the CPR or accelerated CPR.

5.  For medical equipment capable of emitting radiation, such as X-ray and ultrasound equipment:

o   Complete brochure/literature about the equipment model

o   For X-ray equipment, a copy of the license to operate an x-ray facility issued by the BHDT

o   Name(s) and credentials of the person(s) who will operate the equipment

6. For food and other items


The donee/consignee or recipient files a letter of request for duty free importation either with the NEDA or the DOE. The NEDA processes, evaluates, and endorses requests for duty free importation for machinery and equipment. The DOE processes, evaluates, and endorses requests for duty free importation of relief goods (medicines, food, among others) intended for DSWD accredited and licensed non-government organizations, as well as books, publications, and education-related materials/equipment.

The letter to NEDA is addressed to:

The Director
Trade, Industry, and Utility Staff
National Economic and Development Authority
Amber Ave., Pasig City

The letter to DOE is addressed to:

The Secretary
Department of Finance
Attention: Revenue Operations Group
DOE Bldg., Roxas Blvd., Manila

Important: For books and publications, the letter to DOE must be addressed to the Secretary of Finance (Attention: Mabuhay Lane).


Upon receipt of the endorsement by the agency concerned for the duty-free certification on the donation, the DOE issues the appropriate clearance and forwards the same to the Central Records Division, Bureau of Customs (BOC) by official messenger. A duplicate copy of the DOE clearance may be furnished to the donee/consignee or recipient upon request.

The Tax Exempt Division of the BOC endorses the release of donation and forwards this document to the Informal Entry Division of the District Office concerned (South Harbor, MICP, NAIA, etc.). The Informal Entry Division checks/verifies, appraises and examines the donated shipment.

After completing the documentation and the payment of processing fees and charges (i.e., terminal handling fee, stripping, arrastre/wharfage, among others), the Bureau of Customs releases the shipment to the donee/consignee or its authorized representative. Processing for the release of donation at the Bureau of Customs usually takes about two to three (2-3) working days if all requirements are complete.

Important: Donations, even if accorded duty free privilege, are still subject to value added tax (VAT), which is computed at 100/0 of the landed cost of the shipment.


lorence Educational Scientific and Cultural Agreement, Italy, 1950, UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines

General Guidelines on Donation of Pharmaceutical Products, Bureau of Food And Drugs Memorandum Order No. 004-88

Guidelines on Availing of the Tax Incentives Provision of the Adopt-A-School Program; Guidebook on Procedures and Requirements Governing Importation of Donations, Department of Education, Culture and Sports

Procedural and Document Requirements for the Processing and Clearance of Donations by the Department of Health

Rules and Regulations Implementing Section 4(3) Article XIV of the New Constitution, Department of Finance Order Nos. 137-87, as amended

Primer on the Availment of Duty/Tax Exemption by NGOs, December 1989, National Economic and Development Authority

Primer on the NEDA Rules and Regulations Governing the Implementation of the last Clause of the Last Paragraph of Section 105 of the Tariff and Customs Code and NEDA Board Resolution No. 58 s,1988.