4 Things to Know When Shipping from the Philippines to the US

Four Things to Know When Shipping From the Philippines to the United States

By Nick Bartlett on March 30, 2022
Here's the basic information you need before you begin shipping from the Philippines to the USA

So you want to start shipping goods from the Philippines to your US markets. You’re in good company.

Besides close political ties with the US, exports between the two have grown significantly in the past five years. They hit a high of $11.5 billion in 2019 and over $10 billion in 2020 despite noticeable disruptions to the supply chain due to COVID.

But if you want to reap the benefits of trans-Pacific trade, you need to be aware of general prices, restrictions, and tariffs. That way you can get your business up and running efficiently with low overhead. 

We’re going to outline four important things to keep in mind when navigating international trade between the two. 

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What products can you ship from the Philippines to the United States?

Most consumer products you can think of can be manufactured and shipped from the Philippines. It has a booming industrial sector today and its primary exports worldwide are actually semiconductors and electronic products – a sign of a mature, increasingly-skilled workforce.

The top export categories from the Philippines to the United States in 2020 were electronic equipment machinery ($4.4 billion) and machinery ($2.8 billion).   

Besides electronics, the Philippines' top 10 exports to the US also include:

  • Optical and medical apparatus
  • Leather and travel goods
  • Vegetables, fruits, and nuts 
  • Animal and vegetable fats and oils
  • Garments
  • Furniture and prefabricated buildings
  • Aircraft and spacecraft
  • Rubber
  • However, even though most goods can be manufactured in the Philippines, there are a number of restrictions on goods entering the US.

Laws and restrictions when shipping from the Philippines to the US

Some goods are prohibited from being imported to the US, while other goods have stringent restrictions. Prohibited goods are mostly related to:

  • arms and weapons
  • illegal drugs
  • counterfeit goods

Restricted items are a little more complicated. “Restricted” means that you need special licenses or permits in order to import the goods into the United States. Examples of restricted items include certain fruits and vegetables, animal products or animal by-products, etc.

The Philippines also has its own import prohibitions and restrictions. If your business is looking to ship back to the Philippines from the United States, see that you consider these restrictions too.

RELATED: From the experts: How to choose a 4PL provider

How much does it cost to ship from the Philippines to the United States?

So you know what you can ship – but how much will it cost? As with most international logistics, you’re going to have to add together average shipping rates with tariffs.

Tariffs on goods shipped from the Philippines to the US

Thankfully, the Philippines and the United States have long-standing trade agreements. Because of this, trade between the two countries continues to grow quickly while remaining relatively cheap for most businesses.

For import taxes, The Philippines benefits from the Generalized System of Preferences ( GSP) granted by the US, under which 70% of The Philippines’ exports to the country can enter with no tariff. Since The Philippines also has Most Favored Nation Status (MFN), many other goods can be imported to the USA with low tariffs averaging from 1-5%.  

Shipping costs from the Philippines

Shipping costs can vary widely depending on which carriers you use. Ocean freight is the least expensive. However, the cost depends on many factors such as cargo weight and dimension, if the goods are fragile or require special treatment, distance, and quantity.  

Average rates for ocean freight (as of March 2022)

  • For 20ft containers ~ $5,000 - 8,000 per container
  • For 40ft containers ~ $11,000 - $15,000 per container 

Quoted shipping prices often include additional expenses, such as:

  • insurance and tracking fees
  • custom clearance costs
  • local port charges.

Keep in mind that LCL shipping, or Less than Container Load shipping, is often less cost-effective than FCL, Full Container Load. With FCL you can pay a flat fee for the whole shipping unit whereas with LCL fees are subject to change.

Prices can also vary greatly between logistics providers, but the least expensive offer doesn’t always save you money in the long run. Port-to-port services cost on average less than door-to-door services. 

How long does it take to ship from the Philippines to the United States?

Time is money and your business needs to receive products as swiftly as possible. So how long does it take to ship goods across 8,000 miles of open ocean? 

Airfreight is significantly faster than other methods. Taking into consideration time for on-and off-loading, air freight from The Philippines to Los Angeles is between 5-10 days. Compare this to ocean freight which can usually range from 45-70 days, and the winner seems obvious. But the express service of air freight comes at a high price making it ineffective for most orders.

What are the best ways to ship from the Philippines to the United States?

There are several different logistic providers that your business can use, and each comes with its own pros and cons. 

The Philippine Postal Corporation, or PhilPost the national postal service, is the least expensive alternative. However, longer shipping times, lower volume limits, limited tracking options, and less security can make this option a risky one. Unfortunately, items are often lost, and there is very little you can do about it. 

Express couriers such as DHL, UPS, or FedEx are often used by small businesses to get the job done quickly. The downside is that the price per kilogram is often higher. Express couriers are also run by large international companies with their own schedules and priorities. They usually can’t make adjustments for your business if there are delays or you’re in a time crunch

To get more effective and flexible transnational shipping, a growing number of businesses are switching to a new type of logistics model: fourth-party logistics (4PL). A 4PL firm can provide your business with a single point of contact for managing your supply chain. That means you save valuable man-hours, increase cost-effectiveness, and can run a leaner operation.

Work with CBIP, a 4PL that knows the Philippines

When you’re looking for businesses to do your logistics between the Philippines and the US, you’ll notice they usually specialize in one market or the other. That’s just not good enough today.

As a global fourth-party logistics (4PL) firm, CBIP works directly with local providers in both the Philippines and the US so we can find the exact businesses with services that match your business´s needs. We even employ local staff on-site to make sure everything goes right.

When you work with us, we become your logistics team, consultant, and integrated software solution. You simply tell us what you need and we manage your carriers, haulers, warehouses, customs clearance, and more for you. Don’t like the prices and times we give you? We can go back to the drawing board and construct a new plan for you.

Send us your email today for a free, no-strings consultation about how your business can start shipping from the Philippines today.

About Author

Nick Bartlett

Nick Bartlett is CBIP’s director of sales and marketing. His expertise lies in marketing, supply chain management, and corporate retail experience. He honed his skills over 10+ years working across the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

Nick keeps a close eye on new markets and believes successful business operations come through value-based relationships.


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