Friday, January 28News That Matters

Importing Live Chickens and Hatching Eggs from Outside the Philippines

One of the main reasons why other popular US heritage chicken breeds like Wyandottes, Cochins, Marans, and even Brahmas are rare in the Philippines is due to the fact that small-scale importing of live birds and eggs to the Philippines is regulated.

My neighbor from Northern California was scheduled to return home this August but because of the ongoing pandemic, they decided to cancel the trip. He supposed to hand-carry 30 eggs.

Bringing fertile hatching eggs to the Philippines is probably the only viable option to import these breeds unless you are connected to a big firm or company that does the import on a large scale like distributors of Hubbard, Cobb, and Dominant CZ.

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Buying hatching eggs online

There are several websites that sell hatching eggs online and ship to the Philippines like eBayDesertcart, and other hatcheries in the US but buying through them would be a bad idea due to the following reasons.

  • Eggs are regulated and you need to secure import permits from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI). Your package will be held in customs if you don’t have permits.
  • Not many shipping companies ship eggs.
  • Shipping would take at least 15 days to as long as 45 days.
  • The risk of breaking and destroying the eggs is very high due to prolonged shipping and handling.

Bringing eggs to the Philippines by hand carry

Bringing live birds by hand carry is not an option and is more difficult than bringing fertile eggs. As mentioned, live animals including eggs are regulated so technically, an import permit from BAI is needed. If you are in the Philippines and have someone in the US to hand-carry eggs, you should secure a permit under his name and send him the papers before his flight. He will show these papers upon arriving at NAIA. Many people, especially those who are engaged in cockfighting, are bringing eggs illegally by wrapping the eggs in aluminum foils and other materials to Xray to avoid detection. Although many had success doing this, this is illegal and is not advisable.

Apparently, US airports are not strict on departing eggs. Many people leave the US carrying hatching eggs without any problem.

Here’s what to do:

  • Secure import permit from BAI. The permit should be carried by the person carrying the live eggs. You can inquire through this page.
  • At the US airport, tell the Transport Security Agent (TSA) that you are carrying eggs and request for a hand check instead of an X-ray.
  • Upon arriving at NAIA, present documents when asked.

Why people carry eggs without permits

Truly, many people are bringing eggs to the Philippines illegally or bribing the local airport security. This is because securing a permit is not a joke. Although BAI could not give specific details on the estimated costs, a hatchery from Montana whom we contacted told us that their Philippine customers are spending around $400 for all paperwork. Although this includes priority shipping and not hand carry, securing a permit from BAI is still a big hurdle for small backyard breeders.

The Philippines’ import/export law is holding back not only the animal and agriculture industry but also the eCommerce industry. This is the reason why only big companies can import products from China and retail these products locally. Small online sellers have no chance even to dropship.

If you have someone in the US, the best thing to do is to buy eggs online and have them shipped to his US address before his flight. Buying hatching eggs online is not a problem if the shipping address is inside the US. Most hatcheries there ship eggs not later than 3 days. Make sure to do this 2 to 3 days before your friend or relative who will carry the eggs depart.

Can Xray kill the embryo?

This is one of the most common questions with inconsistent answers. In theory, live eggs have the same cells as any live animal and even humans. If a pregnant person can pass through X-rays, eggs surely can. Many people who brought eggs to the Philippines by hiding them inside the Balikbayan box or their luggage have their eggs hatched. Time is more dangerous than X-ray. Eggs are losing their fertility every day so the longer the time they spend outside the incubator, the lower the hatch rate.

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