The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has just announced that they are making it easier for Filipinos to bring a used car into the country by putting the application for Certificate of Authority to Import (CAI) online.

Yes, you read that correctly. Bringing in a vehicle is highly restricted (and heavily taxed), and that goes double for second-hand cars, but for some reason, the DTI is working to make it easier for those that can import used vehicles. 

The keyword here is qualified individual. Just because the form is easier to get, doesn’t mean you can go ahead and apply for a CAI. This is only for a group of people who fall under specific categories, including importers of trucks, buses (with specific gross vehicle weight requirements), and special-purpose vehicles. Generally speaking, this new process is aimed at returning residents of the Philippines, an immigrant, or an official of the Diplomatic Corps.

“Our shift to online transactions is in line with the government initiative on Ease of Doing Business and Government Service Act of 2018 which aims to streamline frontline procedures and reduce the processing time on securing permits and licenses in the government,” said DTI – Consumer Protection Group (CPG) Undersecretary Atty. Ruth B. Castelo.

The CAI is a requirement under Executive Order (EO) No. 156, signed by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo that must be secured prior to the importation of used motor vehicles. Another important thing to note, the vehicle being imported cannot be resold for at least three years.

Applicants for CAIs only have to remember four steps: connect, submit, pay, and receive. According to the DTI, the whole process, including the initial assessment by the DTI-Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau, the review of the Import Regulation Division Chief, and the final evaluation by the DTI-FTEB Director, will take only one to two days at the most. 

“We are proud to say that going digital made our operations more efficient and it is taking us further towards achieving our goal on customer delight because our Import Regulation Division (IRD), the division that administers CAI applications, received a 98.81% Client Satisfaction Rating (CSF) last year,” DTI – CPG Assistant Secretary and Concurrent FTEB Director Ronnel O. Abrenica underscored.

So don't get your hopes up about bringing in that Evo 6 you've been pining over at Japanese auction sites. Unless you are qualified, it would take an act of Congress before you can import that, and a lot of conversion work.