As deliveries of packages and parcels from overseas Filipinos surge in time for the Christmas season, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has launched an online tracker that will enable recipients of Balikbayan boxes to check on the status of their packages.
“This is our way of helping our kababayan [countrymen]find their boxes when they encounter problems. We have received several complaints from OFW [overseas Filipino worker]families blaming BOC for lost boxes. With this tracker, the public will not be given the runaround by people responsible for delivering their Balikbayan boxes,” Customs Commissioner John Sevilla said.
The tracker contains the list of all Balikbayan box shipments lodged by local cargo forwarders with the BOC, the country of origin, port of entry in the country and the Bill of Lading (BL) number of the shipments.
Balikbayan boxes sent from abroad are usually consolidated into batches, and placed in one container van aboard a cargo vessel bound for the Philippines.
Each container van has about 400 Balikbayan boxes.
Shipments from within Asia typically arrive in the country in 15 to 20 days, while those from North America or Europe arrive in 55 to 65 days.
These container vans are filed in a Bill of Lading and consigned to one entity, usually a local cargo forwarder.
The forwarder handles Customs clearance of the entire shipment and handles delivery of each box to intended recipients in the Philippines.
To access the Balikbayan Box tracker, go to the Bureau of Customs website (http://customs.gov.ph) and click the “Balikbayan Box Tracker” banner. The tracker contains information on all Balikbayan box shipments lodged with the bureau, including its country of origin, BL number, name of the foreign forwarder, name of the local forwarder/broker, date entry filed, date cleared and current status.
Families expecting Balikbayan boxes should know the name of the forwarder and the BL number to be able to track the shipment where the Balikbayan box is included.
“The DTI fully supports the BOC in this initiative that can greatly assist consumers on the delivery and receipt of their Balikbayan boxes. Simultaneously, the tracker can serve as a venue for accredited Philippine sea freight forwarders to police their own ranks and prevent questionable acts and dealings,” Department of Trade and Industry-Consumer Protection Group (DTI-CPG) Undersecretary Victorio Mario Dimagiba said.
The DTI expects that the tracker can lessen, if not eliminate, consumers’ complaints on loss, non-delivery and pilferage of Balikbayan boxes.
As of November 2014, the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau of the DTI has accredited 64 Philippine sea freight forwarders that engage in door-to-door Balikbayan box delivery services.
An estimated 5.5 million Balikbayan boxes are sent to the Philippines each year, about 40 percent of which arrive during the so-called “ber” months approaching the Christmas season.
Approximately 65 percent of all Balikbayan box shipments arrive at the Manila International Container Port, while the rest are shipped through the Port of Manila (South Harbor), Cebu, Davao and Subic.