Truly, change is coming for the lives of our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) and great benefits are coming in their way since the Bureau of Customs (BOC) together with the Department of Finance (DFA) have signed and agreed on the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) suggesting the guidelines on duty- and tax-free balikbayan boxes.

How to acquire tax-free exemption for balikbayan box?

Under the rules and regulations, the qualified Filipinos abroad are the following:

(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 stay abroad (may include holders of student visa, investors’ visa, tourist visa, and similar visas which allow them to establish temporary stay abroad).

To be approved of this privilege, they must submit the following requirements:
(1) A QFWA shall submit the following supporting documents:

a. Photocopy of a page of his/her Philippine passport with personal information, picture and signature, or photocopy of his/her foreign passport with personal information, picture and signature plus proof of copy of dual citizenship; and,
b. Invoice, receipt or equivalent document covering the goods in the balikbayan box, if any.

(2) A QFWA shall accomplish, sign and submit the Information Sheet, which will be issued by BOC and will serve as the packing list.
(3) The international forwarder/consolidator shall submit these Information Sheets and supporting documents in a secured electronic format to local (Philippine) forwarder/deconsolidator.
(4) The local forwarder/deconsolidator shall transmit to the Bureau the Information Sheet and supporting documents in a secured electronic format before the arrival of the balikbayan boxes to the Philippines and within the period prescribed.

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For consolidated shipments by sea:

A. For shipments that will take 3-day shipping time: 24 hours prior to arrival
B. For shipments that will take 7-day shipping time: 48 hours prior to arrival
C. For shipments coming from America, Europe, Middle East, and other parts of the world that does not fall under the above shipping time: 10 days prior to arrival.

For consolidate shipments carried by aircraft:

A. For those coming from Asia – 1 hour prior to arrival
B. For those coming from other countries – 6 hours prior to arrival (5) A QFWA shall also certify that only personal effects and household goods, which shall not be in commercial quantities, are sent through balikbayan boxes.

Lists of legal items for balikbayan boxes

According to BOC, the only allowed balikbayan boxes items are non-commercial goods or goods not in commercial quantity strictly for personal use such as clothes, foodstuffs, grocery items, canned goods and other similar items.

The non-taxable exemption ceiling for balikbayan boxes this year has now been increased to P150, 000.00 so long as the items inside the box are not in commercial quantities. OFWs should take in mind that they may avail themselves of the duty- and tax-free privilege up to three times a year only.

Here’s the list of allowable limit:

perfumes, five pieces;
lipstick, 10 pieces;
shampoo, two kilos;
lotion, two kilos;
bar soaps, two kilos;
assorted cosmetics, one kilo;
toys, 10 pieces;
childcare articles, five kilos;
Household cleaning items, five kilos.

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