Harmonized Online Freight Forwarding Accreditation in the works

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  • The Department of Trade and Industry has drafted a proposed joint memorandum circular to develop and implement a unified system for the accreditation of air and sea freight forwarders
  • To be created is a single digital system for accreditation of sea and air freight forwarders called Harmonized Online Freight Forwarding Accreditation
  • The draft JMC follows the signing in December 2022 of a memorandum of agreement between DTI and the Department of Transportation to harmonize sea and air freight accreditation

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is proposing the creation of a Harmonized Online Freight Forwarding Accreditation (HOFFA) under a draft joint memorandum circular (JMC).

The draft JMC seeks to develop and implement a unified system for the accreditation of air and sea freight forwarders.

Sea freight forwarders are currently accredited with the DTI Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) while air freight forwarders are accredited by the Civil Aeronautics Board, an attached agency of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

The draft JMC follows the signing in December 2022 of a memorandum of agreement between DTI and DOTr to harmonize sea and air freight accreditation.

Stakeholders have until May 31 to submit their comments or position papers on the draft JMC.

The proposed JMC will apply to freight forwarders engaged in the following category:

  • Domestic airfreight forwarder
  • International airfreight forwarder
  • Domestic sea freight forwarder
  • International sea freight forwarder
  • Non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC)
  • Cargo consolidator
  • Breakbulk agent

The JMC aims to streamline the accreditation of sea and air freight forwarders by creating a unified application form, streamline of processes, and the establishment of a single digital system for the accreditation of sea and air freight forwarders (HOFFA).

A technical working group will also be created to ensure the efficient and effective implementation of the JMC. It will be composed of representatives from DTI and its offices—FTEB, Information Systems Management Service, and Supply Chain and Logistics Management Division—and DOTr and CAB.

Under the draft JMC, all air and sea freight forwarders should, prior to operation or upon renewal, secure a Certificate of Authority (CA) through the single system, and apply for the renewal before or within the period prescribed.

A unified application form will be used in applying for certification by any person desiring to operate as a sea and/or air freight forwarder.

Documentary requirements for the issuance of freight forwarder accreditation will be reduced and posted in the single system in accordance with Republic Act 11032, otherwise known as Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.

All applications and documentary requirements should be reviewed, evaluated and validated within three days, provided that all requirements are complete based on the pertinent regulations of the DTI, DOTr, or CAB, as the case may be.

The CA will be valid for a period of five years unless suspended, cancelled or revoked whether by FTEB or CAB.

The amount of paid-up capital, partner’s contribution, or proprietor’s equity will be based on the existing guidelines of DTI and CAB.

The payment of fees will be made possible online after an agreement with digital payment providers is made.

The draft JMC notes that the exclusive jurisdiction over airfreight forwarders still rests upon the CAB, and the exclusive jurisdiction over sea freight forwarders and NVOCCs will be delegated to DTI.

If a stakeholder holds both airfreight and sea freight forwarding or NVOCC permits, CAB and DTI will have their separate assessment and evaluation through the single digital system and will still exercise their respective jurisdiction over such stakeholders.

Once approved, DTI and CAB should issue their respective guidelines, rules and regulations implementing the JMC within 30 days after its effectivity.

In 2021, DTI conducted the Logistics Services Philippines Project Streamlining to identify regulatory constraints in the freight forwarding sector. Among the key findings are the separate and redundant accreditation requirements and processes for sea and air freight forwarders.

DTI’s shared objective is to reduce documentary requirements, fees, and processing time and align with the standards set under RA 11032.

Earlier, CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla said through the unified accreditation system, freight forwarders engaged in both air and sea freight operations would not have to go to two different offices as there will be a single application form and single set of requirements, steps, and fees for accreditation.