Apparently, all Express Mail Service (EMS) parcels are to be claimed at the Pasay branch of Philpost, particularly at the EMS Customs Unit. And from the word "customs", you're right to assume that there will be taxes.
Here's a step-by-step procedure of claiming a parcel at EMS Customs Unit of Philpost:
1. Wait for a notification mail from Philpost that will inform you that your package is ready for claiming.
Front view of the notice card.
Back view of the notice card.
The notice card will state where you should claim your package. The EMS Customs Unit is located at Domestic Airport Rd., 1300 Pasay City.
Don't forget to bring 2 valid identification cards when you claim your parcel.
2. Proceed to EMS Customs Unit.
Facade of EMS Customs Unit at Pasay City.
They're open Mondays to Fridays, from 8:00am - 5:00pm. But make sure you arrive before 4:00pm. They will not entertain you beyond that time. The notice card says that the EMS office is open on Saturdays and holidays from 8:00am to 2:00pm. But to make sure, call them first at 854-3580 or 854-4621.
3. Enter the EMS Customs Unit and submit your notification card to a staff that's situated on your right.
Present your notice card here.
Unfortunately, procedure on claiming is not clearly stated anywhere within the area. Tables were not properly marked either. There's no choice but to ask for directions. However, don't expect people to be accommodating.
4. After submitting your notice card, wait for your name to be called. Benches are provided outside the main entrance.
Proceed to this table that is located on your left upon entering the EMS Customs Unit, when your name is called:
Package claim and inspection counter.
Every package will undergo inspection under the supervision of a Customs officer. The parcel will be opened and scrutinized in front of you to make sure there are not prohibited items. After inspection, the parcel will be wrapped and taped again.
Inspection of parcel.
5. You will be asked to follow the Custom's officer to an airconditioned office after inspection of parcel.
This is where the horror (!) begins. The officer who inspected your items will then compute for the taxes you need to pay before you can claim your package. Be prepared to see the computation. Really!
My parcel had a total value of US$60 which was approximately Php2600.
Here's a computation of my 12% VAT:
12% VAT computation.
I have no idea where the $98.34 came from when the package stated a value of $60! The 44.093 is the dollar to peso conversion rate upon the time of claiming. From this computation alone, my parcel costs Php4,336.10. What?!?
Even with this breakdown of computation, I still can't understand what all the charges are for! I tried to ask for details but the officer in-charge just said to look at the receipt. Well, based on what they handed me, initials of charges are not helpful. I was not in the mood to complain since I know nothing good will come out of it anyway. It's either I pay for the taxes or leave my items.
To think these are just nail art brushes and a set of acrylic paint! I was taxed more than half of what I paid for!
And so, lesson learned, I'd rather not opt for a registered mail for an online purchase if it is not so important. Waiting for a month to receive a package is better than being over taxed for a nail art kit! I can only imagine how much the Philippines Bureau of Customs will tax imported gadgets!
6. After paying for your taxes, go back to the area where you submitted your notice card. You'll be asked to pay Php40 postage tax.
7. Finally, proceed to the area where your parcel was opened and inspected. Present your notice card and tax receipt to claim your item/s.