Buying books and shipping them to the Philippines

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Reading, one of life's great pleasures


Here’s a suggestion that may help make it more affordable to ship books the the Philippines. And, let’s face it, unless you live in Manila, the Philippines is a bibliophile’s nightmare.  Iloilo, one of the larger Philippine cities with a dozen or more  colleges does not have anything approaching a decent bookstore.  If you want a specific books (unless it’s about nursing) you are not going to find it here.  If you want the book you’ll have to have it shipped from a US, UK or European on-line book seller.  What comes to mind is, but Amazon will not ship to the Philippines and a few other “high risk” destinations.

Barnes and Noble may ship to the Philippines but its charges are high.  For example, if I want to buy a used copy of “Peace of Mind in Earthquake Country”, the books is available for $3.97 but shipping is $19.95 for a total of $23.92.  Another online bookseller charges $12.99 for international shipping

I’ve had the best luck with  If memory serves me right, ABE used to be American Booksellers Exchange, but now it’s owned by  Although owned by Amazon, it has a much more favorable policy on international shipping.  ABE serves as a clearinghouse for hundreds of independent book sellers.  Most do ship to the Philippines.  Each seller sets his own shipping rates to the Philippines, so you can compare shipping costs to the Philippines from any or all of the booksellers offering the book you are interested in.

One ABE seller, Better World Books seems to stock a lot of books and offers quite favorable shipping rates.  For example, “Peace of Mind in Earthquake Country” (just an example but an excellent book) costs $3.97, the same as Barnes and Noble but Better Word only charges$4.97 to ship it. to the Philippines, a saving of $15 over Barnes and Noble.  When you go directly to BetterWorld’s website you’ll find that they offer FREE international shipping.  “Peace of Mind in Earthquake Country” costs $7.98 including free international shipping, a small saving over buying through ABE.  We have bought books from BetterWorld and have good luck.  They do, in fact, arrive at the friendly, minuscule Tigbauan, Iloilo post office.  Sometimes we have to pay a small amount of duty, other times we are not charged duty.

Finally a tip on shipping purchases to the Philippines.  Items shipped standard mail via a foreign postal service (US, UK, EU, OZ etc) are delivered via the Philippine Postal Service “PhilPost”.  It’s our understanding that customs duties on items via PhilPost are locally determined.  If you ship via FedEx, UPS, DHL duties and customs brokerage fees are set by customs in Manila and they will likely be higher, possibly much higher.  We were even charged customs brokerage fees on our own mail forwarded by DHL!

The same comment on shipping apply to prescrition medications shipped to the Philippines.  Read about that HERE

Hope this helps our readers!

Comments (21) Write a comment

  1. Good day po! i would like to ask if i can track my order or how do you get notified if the books has arrived? Thanks!


  2. Hi! I’ve seen that you’re paying taxes and custom fees for your books so I want to link these to you:

    All of these say one thing: BOOKS ARE TAX-FREE AND DUTY-FREE.
    You should not be paying them P100 per parcel or anything. I’ve seen people pay P35-P40 which is for “storage/handling fee” (which is still sketchy for me, as they should be delivered straight to your address).

    Hope this helps.


    • Dan,

      Thanks for sharing this information. I am not sure what to do with it. My post office is very small and the staff very kind. On certain books (regular mail?) they don’t charge anything for books. On other they charge P100 + VAT of P12. I hate to upset my applecart with them.



  3. Hi po, I’m from iloilo din po?, ordering from abebooks to iloilo po ilang weeks po yung shipping?and ng provide po ba sila ng tracking number?


    • Shipping times vary. Generally about a month. Shipping is economy with no tracking number.


  4. Even if you buy from Book Depository with free shipping, won’t you still have to pay tax via customs when you pick it up from the post office? How much would it be if you ordered around 5 books?


    • Normally we pay P100 + P12 VAT for each shipment of books, be it one book or six. But we do not pay this for books from the Book Depository. The post office says their shipments are regular mail so no duty is due. We don’t understand why this is but are happy not to have to pay.


      • Sa booksdepository ko din po balak bumili nung book kaso out of stock na. Kaya nag abebooks po ako. Thanks for the info ???


  5. Sir/Ma’am, ask ko lang po kung directly ba na ishi-ship sa bahay yung books na galing abebooks? If kung hindi, malaki po ba ang tax sa customs? Thanks sa sasagot.. 🙂


    • In our case we pick books we buy from and the Book Depository at our local post office. We pay a P100 + P12 VAT for each package, no matter how many books in the package. Books shipped by regular mail — no fee.


  6. I’m planning to order a book from barnesandnoble but I’m not sure if it will arrive safely on my doorstep. Does anyone here experience buying at barnesandnoble which is going to be shipped here in the Philippines? Thanks


    • Personally, I would not order through either Amazon or B&N for shipment to the Philippines. It will likely make it here but shipping costs are high and you might be hit will charges and delays in customs. Do not let them ship via UPS, DHL or FedEx. Have them use the U.S. Postal Service. Better yet buy a used book from


  7. You can get Amazon to ship you books to the Philippines.

    When shopping on Amazon USA from the Philippines the biggest problem is finding items that Amazon will ship outside the USA. Essentially you can ship stuff other than books including dvd’s, clothing, health, tools. watches, jewelry, shoes, electronics, handbags, toys and more to most countries outside the USA including the Philippines.

    There is a way to make this process as easy as possible. Follow a few easy steps to view only those items that can.

    *** Step 1
    Visit the official Amazon Global page at – This is not the main Amazon homepage so make sure you bookmark or favorite it in your browser now so you can come back to this page whenever you want.

    *** Step 2
    Login to an Amazon Account before you start shopping. If you dont yet have an account create one.

    *** Step 3
    Go into your account settings, click on Manage Addresses and setup your address in Philippines and then set it as the default address.

    *** Step 4
    Go Shopping – as you look at every item it will check to see if it can be shipped to your address. If it can\’t it will indicate so in red writing.

    *** Step 5
    International shipping rates by many merchants can be excessive so it is best to only buy from Amazon who have low shipping rates. In the left hand column click Amazon in the seller box to make sure you are only seeing items sold and shipped by Amazon


    • Glenn,

      Many thanks for taking the time to outline these Amazon shopping tips. I have to agree that the international shipping rates through Amazon and its merchants are just too high. I generally can find a seller on eBay, especially ones in Hong Kong and the U.K. who will offer international shipping for less and further will use Royal Mail or Hong Kong’s excellent postal service. Using postal mail avoids Philippine customs in Manila and generally will save quite a bit of money on customs fees. Using FedEx and DHL is a nightmare as their shipments use a customs broker in Manila.

      I realize mailing entails using the Philippine postal service. We have had good luck with the Iloilo and Tigbauan post offices. Many times there will be no or minimal duty. We are rarely charged ANY duty on books. Others have had problems with PhilPost. Ebay sellers with very high ratings will usually do ANYTHING to avoid negative feedback so if there is a problem with something getting lost, they will almost always give a refund for lost article.

      Thanks again!


  8. I buy books (and other items) from amazon and pay via paypal (where my PH credit card is linked to), have items shipped to a virtual US address provided by (works as a freight forwarder) which then ships my package door-to-door, skipping PhilPost altogether! My-shoppingbox gives me the option to ship by air ($5.99 per lb, 5-8 days) or by sea ($2.99 per lb, 40-45 days). You might have to add a few days if outside of Manila.

    There’s a small subscription fee of $25 per year, which is waived if you use your BDO credit card to register.

    I find this option more reliable than Philpost, and cheaper than those that offer consolidated shipping via balikbayan boxes. It’s a good alternative if you’re buying a few items at low cost from the US. The only downside is they don’t consolidate packages from different suppliers.


  9. Hey!

    I was looking for articles discussing how the Barnes and Noble Nook would fair in the Philippine weather then I found your blog post. Awesome! I’m also from Iloilo but I’m currently studying in the capital.

    Have you heard of They ship books FOR FREE! The shipping is slow but not that bad (according to friends). I’m buying several covers from the site soon! Just in case you’ll be interested.


  10. Pingback: Using a Nook or Kindle Fire in the Philippines | My Philippine Life

    • Yes, ABE is great! I always comparison shop for shipping rates for books shipped to the Philippines and almost always save money over what I’d pay on Amazon. Also you support some very fine small booksellers — a dying breed.


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