Its been in enforcement for a while now but the Optical Media Board of the Philippines (OMB) has, for over a year now, been going extra hard on the requirement of an OMB Import Permit for shipments arriving in the Philippines that include any of the following:
More than 6 pcs. optical discs (CD, DVD, Blu-ray format audio/video) – Multi-volume sets are treated as one (e.g. 10-disc Movie box set or 5 disc music artist anthology)
hard disk drives – any number
solid state drives – any number
flash drives – any number
UPDATE: 2020/11/23 – A recent importation by one of our readers required the buyer/importer to retrieve permits for a box set. The official they contacted argued that the rules have now changed and box set are not considered as 1 entity and thus will be treated as per disc.
If you’ve visited any of your post offices, you’ll probably see a notice about this. If you’re reading this because its your first time being asked for such a permit and you need to get one now, then look no further. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to get an OMB Import Permit for your package easily.
Disclaimer: This guide is based on personal experience and inquiries made to the concerned agencies and companies and as presented in their online publications.
Is it Legal?
Now you may be wondering why you’re being asked for an OMB Import Permit suddenly. You’re not a business not doing anything illegal, so why are you being asked for this? As of earlier last year, the OMB has been enforcing the requirement of an OMB Import Permit for all shipments that include the items listed above citing MC-2005-05 and MC-2016-001:
MC-2005-05: Importation of Optical Discs for Personal Use
MC-2016-001: REGULATION OF HARD DISK DRIVES and OPTICAL MEDIA WRITERS/DRIVES
So regardless of how you interpret it, the law requires it. So yes, it’s legal.
What if I don’t provide an OMB Import Permit?
Depends on your shipping method on how you received your item. Big difference if its sent via postal service or courier. Standard claiming procedure applies for both and if your parcel and package is unclaimed, the shipping company can dispose of it as highlighted in their protocol. Some courier services may have it sent back but local post offices will either have them up for auction for disposal past a certain period of time.
How Do I get an OMB Import Permit?
OMB actually highlights the process very well in their website in their guide on how to secure an OMB Import Permit but the process is long-winded and requires you to submit forms in person. We don’t need this step. In this guide, I’ll walk you through how to apply for an OMB Import Permit and only claim it once available. But first, some requirements:
Requirements on how to Apply for an OMB Import Permit
Details about your shipment (kind of media, country of origin, quantity of content)
Shipment tracking number or airway bill
Valid government IDs
Php 150 processing fee
We’ll cover later how to proceed if you’re missing any of these.
Application Procedure to get an OMB Import Permit
A quick note first, this is for consumers. If you’re a business looking to apply for an Import Permit, you’ll need to apply via the NSW. Please consult with the OMB directly regarding this process.
Moving on to consumers and one-time clients, the process is quite simple. As we mentioned, we’ll discuss the fast method which will only require you to communicate with OMB online. The traditional route will require you to visit their main or satellite offices.
UPDATE 11/23/2020: Please address all request email to the new OMB chairman: former three-term mayor of Malolos City, lawyer Christian “Agila” Natividad.
Step 1. Send a Letter of Intent to OMB
The first step in how to get an OMB Import Permit is quite simple and only requires sending one email to OMB. All you need to do is replace the necessary information in the template similar to the example letter pictured above.
Attach a screenshot or scanned copy of your shipment invoice as well as a scanned copy of your valid ID. The name of the consignee/recipient must be the same person applying for the OMB Import Permit.
Step 2. Wait for Confirmation Email and Release
An OMB personnel will reply to confirm receipt of your application. They will respond with the following:
This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter.
In this regard, please give us three (3) working days to process your request. If you did not receive notification from us after three (3) working days, please call 374-1393/3740237 to check status of your request.
You don’t need to reply to this email. Processing will usually take 3-5 business days (not counting weekends and holidays) but could be faster. Just wait for another email saying your request to get an OMB Import Permit has been approved and your permit is now available to claim:
Your requested OMB Certification/Permit is ready for pick up. Kindly bring/provide a copy of at least 1 valid government issued ID of the Signatory of the Letter of Intent together with an authorization letter (if someone will pick-up on your behalf) and Php 150.00 for the processing fee.
As instructed in the email, you will need to go to the OMB head office. Proceed to the registry unit and pay the necessary Php150 processing fee and claim your OMB Import Permit. If you are sending someone else on your behalf, please provide an authorization letter as well as a copy of your ID to the person claiming on your behalf.
And that’s it. You now have your OMB Import Permit. You can present this to the clearance officer at your post office to claim your item. For couriers, scan your OMB Import Permit and send it to your customer care representative.
For DHL Shipments
DHL can claim your OMB Permit, should they require it for clearance, on your behalf. If you have a DHL shipment that requires an OMB permit, proceed with step 1 and step 2. Once you receive the confirmation email that your OMB Import Permit has been released, email your DHL contact person as instructed through text, phone call or email with your authorization letter (example above) with a scanned copy of your ID. Download a copy of the Authorization Letter template below:
DHL will charge you Php100 pick-up fee for this service.
How about Fedex, UPS or TNT?
As per their customer service hotlines, they do not offer OMB Import Permit pickup service. You will need to claim your OMB Import Permit as highlighted in step 3 and scan it then send to your courier clearance officer.
I’m not located in Manila. How do I get an OMB Import Permit?
If you’re outside Manila, you’ll have to resort to the traditional route. You’ll need to visit your nearest OMB satellite office and apply for the permit personally. Once applied, they will send the application to Manila and you’ll to wait until they send it back. You can follow up on status via the contact information below:
Address: DTI Negosyo Center, Door 7, Magsaysay Park Complex, Quezon Blvd., Poblacion District, Davao City Telephone: (082) 227-2870 Email: [email protected]
How Do I know if I’ll Need an OMB Import Permit?
Despite how strict the OMB and the BOC are about enforcing this requirement, not all shipments get screened. As long as you’re shipping any HDD, SSD, CD, DVD, Bluray disc. or other storage media, you’ll end up needing one. You can preempt your shipment and apply for an OMB permit ahead of time as long as you know your tracking and shipment info but it’d be a waste of time if the customs officer ends up not asking for an OMB permit. For postal services though, you should probably go ahead and get one ahead of time as it saves you the trouble of visiting the post office twice.
The rule is one shipment, one permit. If you have multiple shipments with varying tracking numbers, you’ll have to apply for each.
And that’s pretty much all you need to know about how to get an OMB Import Permit. Its very straightforward and quite easy particularly for DHL shipments but otherwise, just one trip to their main office is a needed hassle if you want to get your shipment especially if you bought some great deals on SSDs and HDDs online during sale season. The info also comes in handy if you’re a music or movie enthusiast that get their fix from online retailers especially if you’re a Kpop or Jpop nut like me that buy CD albums online to support their idols.
If you have any questions above or have other experiences you’d like to share, hit the comments section below.