The Department of Trade and Industry-Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (DTI-FTEB) reminds the public to be vigilant especially the Overseas Filipinos (OFs) and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) when sending their balikbayan boxes this coming holiday season as influx of shipments is expected.
The FTEB implements the accreditation of seafreight forwarders (SFF) as part of its mandate to protect consumers from fly-by-night or unaccredited companies and entities.
As of November 2023, the DTI-FTEB has issued 736 SFF accreditation of which 153 are engaged in Balikbayan box shipments.
From 2018 to December 2023, the DTI-FTEB received and mediated a total of 520 complaints involving undelivered Balikbayan boxes. The following should serve as tips to the public when dealing with sea freight forwarders:
- Check the list of Foreign Freight Forwarders and their DTI-accredited Philippine counterparts/agent from the DTI website to validate information:
consumers/accredited- seafreight-forwarders. email@example.com
- Take note of the items not allowed to be sent through balikbayan boxes (e.g., currencies, checks, jewelries, firearms, ammunitions and explosives, etc.)
- Declare all the contents of your balikbayan box per item and its corresponding value in the packing list.
- Secure shipping documents such as official receipt, cargo receipt, invoice, Bill of Lading, shippers’ declaration or waybill.
- Get the name and contact details of the foreign consolidator’s Philippine counterpart or agent-freight forwarder which should be accredited by the DTI.
- Beware of exceptionally very low rates.
- Beware of people posing as representatives of consolidators in your place. Ask for proper identification, check with the consolidators if they are an employee or authorized to represent the said companies.
- Monitor the movement of your cargo from origin to destination.
- Ask the consolidators on how to procure insurance for your cargoes.
- Inform your consignee to check your cargo with the Philippine agent even before it arrives.
DTI-FTEB Director Fhillip D. Sawali reminds the public to transact with accredited SFFs, especially during the holiday season as their legitimacy can be verified.
Freight fowarders and firms found to be in violation of existing policies on balikbayan boxes shall be penalized such as imposition of administrative fines, issuance of cease orders, or suspension of cancellation of accreditation pursuant to applicable DTI rules.
To ensure the delivery of balikbayan boxes, the DTI reminds the public to frequently visit the following sites:
konsyumer/accredited- seafreight-forwarders/ (list of accredited seafreight forwarders and their Foreign Agents sending Balikbayan Box) to get the contact information of Philippine agent-forwarder that should deliver the cargo.
customs.gov.ph/kiosk.php ( Bureau of Customs Parcel and Balikbayan Box Tracking System). The BOC may be reached through BOCCares@customs.gov.ph for inquiries if the shipments are not yet cleared for delivery from BOC.
DTI also encourages the consumers to report any unlawful acts and/or violations in relation to sea freight forwarding services. Complainants within the National Capital Region may file a complaint supported with documents, such as official receipts, cargo receipts, shippers’ declaration, house bills of lading, or waybills with the DTI-FTEB. Consumer complaints may also be sent through firstname.lastname@example.org email or by calling the consumer care hotline at 1-DTI (1-384).