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July 3, 2022
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2019 Update: BoC Eases Rules on Balikbayan Box Duties

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has eased the rules for Filipinos availing of duty- and tax-free privileges for consolidated balikbayan boxes valued up to P150,000.

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

Instead of sticking to a Philippine passport as proof of citizenship, the BOC said it is accepting other documents such as a photocopy of the page of a Philippine passport with personal information, picture and signature.

The BoC advised balikbayan box senders that their shipment must only contain personal and household effects.

In case of dual Filipino citizenship without a Philippine passport, a photocopy of foreign passport with personal information, picture and signature plus a copy of proof of dual Filipino citizenship are needed.

The bureau also accepts permanent resident ID or equivalent documents in other countries, overseas employment certificate or Overseas Workers Welfare Administration card, work permit, unified government ID issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and any other equivalent document except birth certificate.

To further simplify the rules, the BOC said qualified Filipinos are not required to submit the commercial invoices of the goods contained in the balikbayan box. Invoices are to be submitted only if these are available.

However, they are required to submit through their freight forwarders or deconsolidators three copies of the information sheet, which will serve as the packing list of the balikbayan box.

The first copy should be placed on the topmost portion of the box. The second copy should be kept by the sender and the third one must be given to the consolidator to be forwarded to the BOC together with other documentary requirements.

The BOC clarified that qualified Filipinos abroad include holders of valid passports issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and certified by the DOLE or Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for overseas employment purposes regardless of profession.

Also qualified are non-resident Filipinos who have established permanent residency abroad but retained their Filipino citizenship, and resident Filipino citizens who temporarily stayed abroad, including holders of student visa, investors’ visa, tourist visa or other similar visas that allow them to establish temporary stay abroad.

Balikbayan boxes may be sent up to three times in a year provided the total value per sender will not exceed P150,000 and the items or goods sent are not in commercial quantities.

The bureau said deconsolidators and freight forwarders are required 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 will be penalized according to Section 1401 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act,” the BOC said.

The BOC assured the public that balikbayan boxes tagged as “no suspect” after the mandatory X-ray inspections will not be opened or subjected to physical examination.

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