Six must-know documentation when shipping to & from The Philippines

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Today, many businesses are tapping into the e-commerce trend and businesses in the Philippines are no exception.

According to a report by the International Trade Administration, e-commerce market sales in the Philippines reached US$17 billion in 2021. This huge sum is expected to soar even higher with a growth of 17%, reaching approximately US$24 billion by 2025. 

However, with the complex laws and regulations governing the e-commerce industry across different countries, many businesses are still struggling to develop a strong export segment out of the country. One way to make the export process easier for your e-commerce business is to familiarise yourself with the procedures and essential cargo documents needed for customs clearance. 

By making the necessary preparations ahead of time, you avoid shipping delays and frustration and grant yourself a smooth approach to your international shipping journey from the Philippines altogether. 

Read on to learn about the shipping documentation process.

Types of Shipping Documents

Apart from making sure you have the right packaging when exporting, it is always good to familiarise yourself with the different types of shipping documents. This ensures that your goods are not seized or returned to the Philippines upon arrival at customs. Additionally it is your due diligence to ensure that the following shipper documents are all correctly filled out, and abide by the Philippines’ export regulations and laws. 

1. Exporter license

If this is your first time shipping items from the Philippines, you will be required to register with the Client Profile Registration System (CPRS) of the Philippine Exporters Confederation to obtain an exporter license. Depending on the type of goods you are exporting and the location you are exporting your goods from, you might need to apply for additional licenses as well.

For instance, if you are exporting certain types of goods, such as coffee, you will have to register with the Philippines’ Export Marketing Bureau. If you are exporting at free port zones, you may register within the specific free port itself for a shipping license and other necessary documents.

Upon completing the appropriate license registration processes suitable for your intended export goods, you will receive a Unique Registration Number (UEN) within 15 business days to carry out your export activities.

2. Commercial invoice

Similar to a regular tax invoice, a commercial invoice for export is a shipping or freight document that contains the description and details of the goods you are exporting. In addition, it also indicates the amount your buyer is required to pay upon receiving the goods. 

Having a commercial invoice completely and accurately filled up upon reaching customs serves as physical proof to the customs officers that you are conducting a transaction between your business and your buyer. In addition, by indicating the type and quantity of goods crossing the border, you will be able to acquire a quicker customs clearance, as the authorities are able to refer to your invoice to determine the value and condition of your goods. Lastly, in the event of damaged or missing goods, you may also utilize your invoice to obtain insurance claims or re-delivery.

3. Packing list

Besides a commercial invoice, you want to ensure that you have prepared a packing list. This document should contain all the contents of your packages, and include each good itemized by its category. It should also include the numerical values and descriptions of your goods such as the weights, measurements, and quantities.

Moreover, ensure that you have prepared two copies of your packing list. One should be attached to the exterior of your package so that freight forwarders are able to determine the necessary weights and freight costs. The second should be kept inside your package as a form of reference copy for your buyers or suppliers along the way in the supply chain.

4. Certificate of origin

To determine if your goods are eligible for import or if they are subjected to custom taxes or import duties, you are required to produce an international trade document to identify your goods’ country of origin. In this case, as you are shipping from the Philippines, mark your goods with “Made in the Philippines” so that customs can clearly identify that your goods are wholly acquired, produced, manufactured, or processed in the Philippines. 

By doing so, you will be subjected to the correct types of duty rates, trade agreements, and sanctions or export quotas based on the country of origin of your goods.

5. Customs export declaration

You will be required to submit a customs export declaration form upon or before the arrival of your goods at the port of export. With this form, you are providing essential information on the goods you are shipping out from the Philippines to the control exports at the customs. 

The customs export declaration form provides customs officers with the necessary information to assign your goods to customs-approved treatment, prepare them for the export procedure, and ship your goods out. In addition, this notice may help you compile any necessary statistical information about the foreign trade and policies of the country you’re exporting to, which helps you prepare in advance for additional shipping paperwork if any.

6. Bill of lading or domestic waybill

After your goods have been exported, be sure to ask for a domestic waybill or bill of lading (BL) from your carrier. This bill is typically issued by your shipping carrier as a confirmation that your goods have been exported, and serves as clear documentation that depicts the agreement between your business and carrier. In addition, it serves as a receipt of your cargo from your carrier, indicating that the cargo is under their custody and they are permitted to move the cargo to its destination country. The information presented on the bill of lading should summarise the terms and conditions of your shipping agreement, along with the responsibilities of your business as an exporter as well as the carrier as a transportation service.

Ship worldwide with ease through DHL Express

The importance of a smooth and fuss-free exports and customs process cannot be overstated in today’s globalized world. With the knowledge of the different types of shipping documents and forms needed for a smooth customs clearance at your fingertips, you are now better able to understand the shipping documentation process and navigate the exporting environment in the Philippines with confidence. 

Partnering with a leading shipping and logistics partner such as DHL Express is key to growing your e-commerce business and fortifying your success through having the proper expertise and solutions. Take the first step with DHL Express as we provide you with global international express door-to-door courier solutions such as our international shipping toolkit, shipping services covering over 220 countries, flexible delivery options, and preferential rates. 

To learn more, open a DHL Express business account today or find out more about our import and export services in the Philippines.

If you are looking to start a business to export overseas from the Philippines, why not check out our articles on the top five exports from the Philippines or things to note before exporting food out of the Philippines?