(Originally published in Live In The Philippines web magazine)

Shipping containers. Tax exemptions. One of the questions that comes up when you start thinking about moving to the Philippines permanently is: what do you do with all your stuff? Over the years, most of us accumulate large quantities of furniture, appliances, electronics, books, tools, etc. Do we store it? Give it to the Salvation Army? Hold a giant yard sale? Cram it all into balikbayan boxes?

It’s common knowledge that you’re entitled to bring in one shipping container of personal and household goods, exempt from VAT tax and import duties, if you get a permanent resident visa such as a 13A (spousal visa) or an SRRV (retiree visa). It says so right here: http://www.philippineembassy-usa.org/uploads/pdfs/DutyFreeImportation.pdf. (This also applies to returning overseas Filipino workers.)

In an unbelievably laborious and expensive experiment which I hope to never ever repeat, we have proved that this can actually be done. Continue reading . . .