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.
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.
“This is our way of helping our kababayans find their boxes when they encounter problems. We have received several complaints from OFW families blaming BOC for lost boxes. With this tracker, the public will not be given the run-around by people responsible for delivering their balikbayan boxes,” said BOC commissioner John P. Sevilla.
To access the balikbayan box tracker, just go to the Bureau of Customs website 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, Bill of Lading (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.
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 latter handles customs clearance of the entire shipment and handles delivery of each box to the intended recipients in the Philippines.
The Department of Trade and Industry, for its part, expects the tracker to lessen, if not eliminate consumer complaints on loss, non-delivery and pilferage of balikbayan boxes.
“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,” said DTI-consumer protection group (CPG) undersecretary Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba.
As of November 2014, the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau of the DTI, has accredited 654 Philippine sea freight forwarders.
The DTI also urges balikbayan box senders to contract the services of cargo forwarders accredited by the Philippine Shippers Bureau. The list can be found in the website of the DTI.
The DTI also urges overseas Filipinos sending balikbayan boxes to list and declare the contents of the box and be suspicious of cargo forwarders offering services at fees that are way below or way above current industry rates.
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.