To ensure that foreign donations extended to families and individuals affected by calamities will be managed and processed smoothly, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is reiterating its policies on the duty-free and VAT-free entry of foreign donations to the country.

“Ours is a country prone to natural disasters. As such, many generous individuals abroad usually send donations to the country to help our Kababayans who have been affected by calamities. To provide our foreign donors with a hassle-free experience, we would like to reiterate our policies on the duty-free and VAT-free importation of these well-intended donations under our Administrative Order (AO) No. 11 Series of 2012,” DSWD Secretary Virginia N. Orogo said.

The DSWD’s AO 11 s. of 2012 or the Revised Guidelines in the Management and Processing of Donations has put in place internal control measures to ensure an efficient and transparent system of processing, managing, utilizing, monitoring and reporting of donations.

According to the AO, national government agencies (NGAs), government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), local government units (LGUs) as well as registered, licensed and/or accredited social welfare and development agencies (SWDAs) are eligible to avail of duty and tax free of importation of donations under Presidential Memorandum Order (PMO) No. 36 of 1992.

Moreover, registered, licensed and/or accredited SWDAs are also eligible to apply for the availment of duty-free entry of foreign donations under Section 105(1) of Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP).

A SWDA refers to non-stock, non-profit corporation, organization or association implementing or intending to implement, either directly or indirectly, social welfare and development programs and services in the Philippines, and assessed as having the capacity to operate administratively, technically, and financially.

“There are policies that govern the availment of duty- and tax-free entry of foreign donations and failure to abide by these may result in non-entitlement,” Sec. Orogo said.

To avoid problems, the Secretary said it is very important for the donations’ consignees, which refer to those entities responsible for the receipt of foreign shipments, to inform their donors of the different requirements that they should comply with and the procedures that they have to undergo.

As the social welfare and development arm of the government, the DSWD is the certifying office for foreign donations that will be covered by duty-free and VAT-free entry. The Department works with the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) which issues the clearance for duty-free and VAT-free entry for donations made during a state of calamity under PMO 36, and with the Department of Finance for duty-free entry under Section 105 of the TCCP.


To facilitate the issuance of certification for duty-free entry, DSWD requires the following documents from SWDAs:

  • Authenticated Deed of Donation from the Philippine Consular Office of the country of origin, with the accompanying certificate as to the fitness of food and medicine for consumption and compliance with the country of origin’s sanitary and phytosanitary standards;
  • A separate Notarized Deed of Acceptance;
  • Copy of valid DSWD Registration, License and/or Accreditation Certificate;
  • Shipping documents such as original and/or duly certified true copy of Bill of Lading or Airway Bill and Packing List;
  • Plan of Distribution;
  • In case of medicines, a certification of the Department of Health – Bureau of Food and Drugs (now the Food and Drug Administration or FDA) that the commodities are allowed for free distribution and use by the intended beneficiaries without the need of a prior prescription and that these are safe for human consumption;
  • Notarized distribution report on the latest shipment previously received by the applicant; and,
  • In case of relief items other than food and medicines, proof of prior agreements or approved arrangements with appropriate government agencies.

The application form, together with these documents, must be submitted in three copies by the consignee at least two weeks prior to the scheduled arrival of donations in the country. The documents must be filed to the concerned DSWD Field Office where the intended distribution of goods shall take place. The processing fee is P1,000.

Foreign donations under PMO 36 that have been consigned to registered, licensed and/or accredited SWDA and LGUs require an additional certification from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) or the Local Sanggunian that the intended or proposed areas of distribution had been declared as calamity areas either by virtue of a Presidential Proclamation or a Resolution by the Local Sanggunian.

Acceptable donations

Acceptable foreign donations include food and non-food items such as mats, blankets, shoes, medicines, soap, and cooking and kitchen utensils. Food items should have a remaining lifespan of at least a year with sanitary and phytosanitary compliance.

To maintain the dignity and to safeguard the health of the people, donations of used clothing is strictly prohibited to safeguard the health of the people and maintain the dignity of the nation.

Sec. Orogo said that consistent with the provision of Republic Act No. 4653, the DSWD shall adhere to the “no used clothing donation” policy.

“We urge the consignees of foreign donations to follow our policies and processes to avoid any problem or delay in the distribution of relief items to families affected by disasters. Following these processes will also avoid cases of donated goods being wasted, like what happened recently,” said the Secretary, who is referring to the recent disposal by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) of four container vans of donated relief items intended for the survivors of Supertyphoon ‘Yolanda’ that had been left idle since being delivered to Cebu in 2014 due to lack of proper documents.

“We do not want another batch of donated materials to go to waste again. Our aim is for our well-meaning foreign donors to have a hassle-free donation experience and for the donated relief items to be extended promptly to our fellow citizens in need of help during times of calamities,” Sec. Orogo ended. ###