Customs issues guidelines on book importation

It seems that the new guidelines were issued for about a month now, but I haven't heard of it until this morning.

I'm sure many book lovers are not too happy with the new guidelines. I remember something similar happened years ago when The Bureau of Customs wanted to impose tax duties on all imported books. It was wildly opposed because it was a direct violation of the Florence Agreement.

I was really saddened by the new guidelines. Our local bookstores are poorly stocked. On the National Book Store's website (expired domain. will update the post when their website is up again.), I distinctly remember they offer a service to import books that aren't on their online store database. Once they got a hold of the book that you want, they can ship it to you or you can pick it up at the nearest National Book Store branch in your area. You simply have to email them the books' title, author, and ISBN. I didn't even got a reply. I took the matters into my own hands and tried buying the book from an online international book seller and ever since almost all of my book purchases are made online (from book sellers outside the Philippines). I'm not rich. I don't even work full time and whatever money I have left (after food, transpo, bills, misc. basic expenses) I spend on books. I see these new guidelines as a sneaky way to impose tax on books. Unless you're making a living from importing books, most people would probably not go through the trouble of securing a certification from UNESCO Philippines to declare the imported materials as included in The Florence Agreement (needed to have the tax waived).

As for me, I probably won't buy books online until these guidelines by the Bureau of Customs are sorted out.

"the Constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization urges co-operation between nations in all branches of intellectual activity, including `the exchange of publications, objects of artistic and scientific interest and other materials of information' and provides further that the Organization shall `collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image'" - The Florence Agreement
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