Posted on 22 May 2015.
With the onset of the typhoon season, many well-meaning individuals – especially those living abroad – usually send donations to the country to help the victims of calamities.
To ensure that donors will have a worry-free experience, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reiterated that it has policies to ensure that the applications for duty-free and VAT-free entry of foreign donations given during calamities will be managed and processed smoothly.
The DSWD, as the social welfare and development arm of the government, is the certifying office for foreign donations that will be covered by duty-free and VAT-free entry.
DSWD works with the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) which issues the clearance for duty-free and VAT-free entry for donations made during a state of calamity.
“While foreign donated relief goods are free from import duties and taxes, there are policies and processes governing the exemption; and failure to abide may result in non-entitlement,” DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said.
Sec. Soliman urged prospective consignees, or those entities responsible for the receipt of foreign shipments, to inform their donors of the different requirements that they should comply with and the procedures that they have to undergo to avoid problems with the donation process.
DSWD-registered Social Welfare and Development Agencies (SWADAs) are qualified to become recipients of duty-free donations.
Private organizations that want to avail of duty-free entry should apply for registration as SWADA with the DSWD to avail of the privilege. Organizations that are not registered can still become recipients of foreign donations but will not be processed for duty-free entry.
DSWD noted that goods are confiscated or held at the Bureau of Customs if consignees do not comply with the requirements and if they include unacceptable items.
For donations that arrive at the pier, consignees have six days to process the release papers. After six days, a storage fee of P5,000 per day for each container van will be charged.
On the other hand, donations that arrive at the airport should be released on the same day. Otherwise, these will be charged with storage fees by the kilo or computed per cubic meter, whichever is higher.
Foreign donations should be limited to food and non-food items such as mats, blankets, shoes, medicines, soap, and cooking and kitchen utensils.
Food commodities should have a remaining lifespan of at least a year with sanitary and phytosanitary compliance.
Donations of used clothing is strictly prohibited in order to safeguard the health of the people and maintain the dignity of the nation. The importation of used clothing is banned by the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines and Republic Act No. 4653.
To facilitate the issuance of certification for duty-free entry, DSWD requires the following documents:
- Authenticated Deed of Donation from the Philippine Consular Office of the country of origin with the accompanying certificate as to fitness of food and medicine for consumption and compliance with the country of origin’s sanitary and phytosanitary standards;
- Notarized Deed of Acceptance;
- Copy of valid DSWD Registration, License and/or Accreditation Certificate;
- Shipping documents such as original and/or duly certified true copy of Bill of Lading or Airway Bill and Packing List;
- Plan of Distribution which should be approved by the concerned DSWD-Field Office;
- In case of medicines, a certification of the Department Health-Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the commodities are allowed for free distribution and use by the intended beneficiaries without the need of a prior prescription and that these are safe for human consumption;
- Notarized distribution report on the latest shipment previously received by the applicant; and,
- In case of relief items other than food and medicines, proof of prior agreements or approved arrangement with appropriate government agencies.
These documents should be submitted in three copies to the concerned DSWD-Field Office for assessment at least two weeks prior to the scheduled arrival of donations in the country.
The application form together with the requirements shall be filed by the consignee at the DSWD-Field Office where the intended distribution of goods shall take place. The processing fee is P1,000.
The DSWD-Field Office shall review the application and requirements within three working days upon receipt.
Approved applications shall be forwarded to the DSWD Central Office for final review and evaluation. Otherwise, the application shall be returned to the applicant for further compliance.
The Central Office shall give its final evaluation on the application three days upon receipt from the Field Office.
If approved, the Central Office shall prepare the endorsement letter to the Office of the President-Presidential Management Staff (OP-PMS) indicating that the foreign donations to the concerned consignee may be allowed duty-free entry; conforme letter addressed to the applicant that they should comply with the post-facilitation requirements; and, letter to the concerned DSWD-Field Office informing them of the approval of the application and requesting them to monitor the actual distribution of goods.
During a state of calamity, especially for disasters of the same magnitude as Typhoon Yolanda, the government opens a One-Stop-Shop to process foreign donations instead of securing clearance from the PMS.
Concerned government agencies such as the DSWD, DOF, DOH, Department of Foreign Affairs, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council are housed in one roof to facilitate the release of the donations. ###