MANILA, Philippines - Waiting for the balikbayan box your relatives sent from abroad? Now you can find out the package's status through an online tracker launched by the Bureau of Customs.
On Tuesday, the BOC launched an online tracker where recipients of balikbayan boxes can check on the status of their packages.
The online tracker can be found on the BOC Balikbayan Box Tracker microsite.
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.
To track the shipment of your balikbayan box, the recipient should know the name of the forwarder and the BL number.
"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," Customs Commissioner John P. Sevilla said.
While you can now track your balikbayan box, it is still likely that packages that were sent in October or November would arrive by early 2015 due to the port congestion. Cargo forwarders earlier said only balikbayan boxes sent on or before August will make it this Christmas.
The Department of Trade and Industry said it expects the online tracker to lessen consumer complaints on loss, non-delivery and pilferage of balikbayan boxes.
"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 Trade Undersecretary Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba.
The DTI urged Filipinos to contract services of cargo forwarders accredited by the Philippine Shippers Bureau. The list can be found in the DTI website.
The DTI also warned OFWs to be wary 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 in the months leading to Christmas season.