The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has clarified the role of consignees in procedures for the release of humanitarian aid and relief consignments to better facilitate international donations coming into the Philippines.
As a rule, all importations including donations are subject to customs duties and taxes, BOC said in a statement. BOC earlier advised the public to follow proper procedures when importing foreign donations to avoid unnecessary charges.
Under Section 800 (m) of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), imported goods donated to or for the account of the Philippine government or any duly registered relief organization not operated for profit, and for free distribution among the needy and certified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or the Department of Education, or the Department of Health, are exempted from paying import duties upon compliance with prescribed formalities.
Senders and consignees of international donations must be eligible for certain criteria and follow operational procedures in order to avail of a duty and/or tax exemption.
The consignee must be a national government agency (NGA), DSWD-registered, licensed, and/or accredited Social Welfare Development Agency (SWDA), foreign embassies and international organizations/specialized agencies; a non-stock, non-profit educational institution; a disabled person; or others, who donate the goods to foregoing parties.
Procedures for foreign embassies and international organization/specialized agencies as consignee are coordinated with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) or Philippine Embassy/Consular Office in the country of origin.
Once the goods arrive in the Philippines, the consignee or its authorized representative will have to submit the required documents such as authenticated/notarized Deed of Donation, Deed of Acceptance, bill of lading, packing list, invoice, import permit if regulated or restricted; Informal Import Declaration Entry and Permit to Deliver Imported Goods to BOC or One-Stop-Shop (OSS) and/or respective government agencies, if applicable.
The examiner, after examining and assessing the goods, issues an order of payment to the consignee indicating the applicable duties and taxes as well as customs charges for settlement.
Duties and taxes on donations consigned to or donated to NGA are automatically charged to its account. For donations consigned or donated to non-stock and non-profit educational institutions, disabled persons, and DSWD-registered, licensed, and/or accredited SWDA, the consignee must secure a Tax Exemption Indorsement (TEI) from the Department of Finance (DOF). The approved TEI will be transmitted by the DOF Central Records Management Division to BOC’s Tax Exempt Division for transmittal to the proper Customs collection district for processing.
BOC clarified that TEI only covers exemption from duties and/or taxes and does not include other customs charges and fees payable to private entities such as storage, demurrage, trucking/transportation, arrastre, warehousing, and stripping/stuffing, among others.
BOC said the sender or consignee must settle other customs charges and fees before the donation is released. Once payment is made, BOC will issue the order to release the goods.
Goods may also be donated in coordination with DFA and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council upon favorable indorsement of the appropriate government agencies.
Prohibited goods as well as restricted or regulated goods without import permit or clearance found during examination will be seized and forfeited in favor of the government.