Have you heard of UNESCO Florence Agreement? I haven’t until now.

Have you heard of UNESCO Florence Agreement? I haven’t until now.

I’ve always been afraid of buying books on bulk online because of the customs fees/taxes they will charge me. It’s not about the act of paying (because that’s our duty as citizen of this country although it is kinda infuriating to know that it goes to corrupt politicians’ fat bank accounts); it’s actually how they charge you. Would you believe some people who had horrible experience of paying almost if not more than the amount of the book they purchased? It’s really disheartening to buy online if you need to spend so much money on even a single purchase.

It’s embarrassing to say that Bureau of Customs here is infamous for their corruption (and that itself it’s long, angry story). Making gullible citizens pay questionable fees. And because these people want to get the product they bought from their hard earned money they have no choice but to comply.

Many of Filipinos shop online. I, for one, love buying books/manga online (particularly the latter since some titles are not really available here). But I always restrict myself on how many should I buy; scared of the prospect of paying huge sum of money. But I stumbled across this Filipino group thread over at Goodreads stating that books should exempt from taxes under UNESCO Florence Agreement. For those who aren’t aware of it (like me so that’s the reason I opted to share in case some folks don’t know about this) under this agreement imported books are relieved from tariffs:

The Agreement and the Protocol provide substantial facilities for the importation of the materials they cover. Their central feature is exemption from customs duties. Contracting parties to the Agreement undertake not to apply customs duties on any of the numerous materials listed in the five annexes to the Agreement under the following headings: Books, publications and documents (Annex A); Works of art and collectors’ pieces of an educational, scientific or cultural character (Annex B); Visual and auditory materials of an educational, scientific or cultural character (Annex C); Scientific instruments and apparatus (Annex D); Articles for the blind (Annex E).
UNESCO Florence Agreement

If that didn’t state matters clearly, you should all know about the Department Order No. 57-2011:

“whereby contracting States undertake not to comply custom duties or other charges on, or in connection with, the importation of books and materials listed in Annexes A to E thereof.”

(Read: DOF clarifies tax and duty exemptions on imported books.)

Personally I haven’t paid any money on the many times I ordered online (which are all books/graphic novels) except that one time purchase from CDJapan where not only it took three months to arrive, it was needed to pick up personally at the post office and was charged of parcel fee. But that’s fine (the hassle though!). I’ve heard that Book Depository purchases are also subjected to the same treatment? It’s been a while since I bought from there (last year ago?); but they always delivered my books straight to my house before, without charge. Same goes to other online stores I buy my manga from (I only buy manga so I don’t know the case for other products).

It’s very encouraging to read successful stories of booklovers managed to get their books without those suspicious charges (sans post office parcel fee which is now Php 100.00) because they are aware of their rights. So kudos to them for spreading awareness!

Now this shows how important to know your rights. Like they said knowledge is indeed power!