On importing books



I received a surprise present from Gari Camaisa, principal designer of Jugenstil Interior + Architecture in California. I had featured Gari’s work a couple of months ago. You can read about it here.

I didn’t expect to receive anything at all. But what he sent was completely appreciated and needed. I have been a secret fan of De Vera for years even shamelessly stalking his small boutique at Bergdorf’s years back. He is one Pinoy I really want to meet and hope his taste level rubs off on me by osmosis. This was the most perfect present anyone has ever given me. Gari’s gesture really gave me much needed inspiration.


The beautiful package was sent to me via Fedex.


The wax seal was scented. Details!


Limited edition book. I will treasure forever.


I hate to taint this story with a bit of controversy, but I feel the story must be told. I promise, it’s for a good cause.

When the courier came to my house, they were charging me P3,400 for a package that was declared as “Books $200”. I felt it was too high and too random, so I instructed the maid not to accept it. Since it was a gift, I didn’t even know what exactly was inside the parcel. But I definitely did not think P3,400 was a fair amount. I was going to go to their office to have it recalculated.

So I Tweeted about my perception of an anomaly at Bureau of Customs (BoC), which, incidentally, made it to Spot.ph’s Tweet of the Week. See #16 here. After a few retweets, it got to Ruffy Biazon, Commissioner of the BoC. He said that books should be exempt from duties and that he would look into this. Fast forward, I emailed him the invoice. One thing led to another and I found out that ALL BOOKS are supposed to be duty free.

Just last December 2011, the Department of Finance passed an Department Order No. 57-2011 declaring that all books – whether of commercial quantity or for personal use – are not supposed to be taxed. This is part of the Florence Agreement, which the Philippines signed.

If you want to read the Department Order in simple English, click here. If you are importing books for commercial reasons, you just have to go through some paper work at the Dept of Finance. The books are free of duty. If it’s a small personal importation, you don’t need any complicated paperwork. You simply have to declare the package as “Books”.

“Department Order No. 57-2011 dated December 9 particularly exempted books for “personal use” from any extensive documentary requirements, but such importations “should be cleared and released through the required declaration of goods as provided under existing rules and regulations.” said Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, explaining the order he signed. “One example is the one you have to fill out upon arriving at the airport. You need to check if you will bring in goods from other countries, but this does not necessarily mean that you will have to pay for it,” he added.

So, I got my beautiful book delivered two days later. And no, I didn’t pay the “taxes”.

If you think you are experiencing any questionable transactions or if you perceive some sort of unfair customs taxation you may report it in this website set up by Department of Finance – www.perangbayan.com or tweet @CommissionerBOC.

And now back to my beautiful book. Thank you Gari!





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