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BOC eases rules on duty and tax-free balikbayan boxes

MANILA CITY – The Bureau of Customs eases the guidelines in availing the duty and tax-free privilege of consolidated balikbayan boxes, this after the previous rules were met with criticisms from the overseas Filipino workers (OFW) community for the tedious requirements in availing the P150,000.00 duty and tax exemption privilege.

Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 18- 2018, issued on October 11, 2018, supersedes CMO No. 04-2017 which provides for the guidelines on the availment of the privilege by qualified Filipinos on their consolidated shipment of balikbayan boxes.

Instead of the mandatory copy of Philippine passport, the Bureau now accepts other documents to show proof of Filipino citizenship such as photocopy of (1) pertinent page of the Philippine passport with personal information, picture and signature, or in case of dual Filipino citizen without Philippine passport, photocopy of foreign passport with personal information, picture and signature plus copy of proof of dual Filipino citizenship; (2) permanent resident ID or equivalent document in other countries; (3) Overseas Employment Certificate/OWWA Card; (4) work permit; (5) Unified Government ID issued by the Department of Labor and Employment; (6) any other equivalent document except birth certificate.

In a bid to simplify the rules and regulations on duty and tax-free consolidated balikbayan boxes, Qualified Filipinos availing of the Php 150,000 duty and tax-free privilege are not required to submit the commercial invoices of the goods contained in the balikbayan box. Invoices are to be be submitted only if it is available.

Aside from the proof of citizenship, the regulation requires qualified Filipinos, through their freight forwarders or deconsolidators, to submit the Information Sheet in three (3) copies where the first copy is to be placed at the topmost portion of the box, the second copy to be kept by the sender while the third copy to be given to the Consolidator to be forwarded to the Bureau together with the other documentary requirements.. It will serve as the packing list of the balikbayan box.

Qualified Filipinos abroad are those (1) holders of valid passports issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and certified by Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) or Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for overseas employment purposes regardless of profession, (2) non-resident Filipinos who have established permanent residency abroad but retained their Filipino citizenship, and (3) resident Filipino citizens who temporarily stayed abroad which may include holders of student visa, holders of investors’ visa, holders of tourist visa and similar visas which allow them to establish temporary stay abroad.

Balikbayan box senders are advised that balikbayan box must only contain personal and household effects.

Personal effects are commodities whether new or used, for personal use or consumption and not for commercial purposes, such as wearing apparel, personal adornments, electronic gadgets, toiletries, or similar items.

Household effects, on the other hand, refers to furniture, dishes, linens, libraries, and similar household furnishings for personal use or family use.

Balikbayan boxes may be sent up to three (3) times in a calendar year provided the total FCA value per sender shall not exceed P150,000.00 and the items or goods sent are not in commercial quantities.

Stricter penalties to deconsolidator, freight forwarders

Deconsolidators and freight forwarders in charge of clearing consolidated balikbayan boxes with the Bureau are obligated to ensure that only personal effects and household goods are sent through consolidated shipment of balikbayan boxes.

Deconsolidators and all other participants who use balikbayan boxes as conduit for smuggling shall be penalized according to Section 1401 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA); criminal prosecution under Title XIV of the CMTA; and cancellation of registration as deconsolidator or freight forwarder.

The penalties and sanctions to be imposed against erring deconsolidators and freight forwarders are provided under Customs Administrative Order No. 1-2018.

The BOC assures the public that balikbayan boxes not subject of derogatory information or are tagged as ”No Suspect” after the mandatory non-intrusive inspections (X-ray) shall not be opened and not be subjected to physical examination.

Information sheet can be downloaded from the BOC website. (PR – BOC PIAD)

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