Just this August of 2017, the Bureau of Customs announced the new rules regarding the Balikbayan box policy which drew flak from a lot of Overseas Filipino workers. The new policy required that senders should paste the list of every content on the side Balikbayan box, show a proof of purchase or receipt for newly bought items inside the box, and a lot more guidelines.
Thankfully, this new Balikbayan box policy is currently suspended until March 31, 2018, while the Bureau of Customs is amending the policy guidelines following the upsurge of criticisms from OFWs.
Now, before that day comes and you are planning to send a balikbayan box in the Philippines, here is an article which you can use as a guide if you wanna more about the latest policy regarding shipping balikbayan boxes to the Philippines. Note that with the possible changes in the policy, key points in this article might be subjected to minor alterations. The following are some of the most salient points about sending Balikbayan boxes to the Philippines.
Important things you should know about sending Balikbayan boxes
1. How much is the ceiling on the value of tax-free items?
With the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act being signed into law by former president Benigno Aquino during his term, tax exemption ceiling for balikbayan boxes sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) was raised from the present ₱10,000 to ₱150,000.
2. Who are qualified to send tax-free balikbayan boxes?
Depending on how many years they have stayed abroad, qualified Filipinos residing abroad are entitled to sending tax free Balikbayan boxes. Being able to send a balikbayan box, tax free, is granted to you if you are any of the following:
- An Overseas Filipino Worker with a passport issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and at the same time certified by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) or the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
- A Filipino citizen who is staying abroad temporarily, holding any of the following visa: investor, student, or tourist.
- A non-resident Filipino who has sought for a permanent residency abroad, but has retained Filipino citizenship.
3. Who are the qualified recipients of Balikbayan boxes?
To qualify for the privilege of sending a balikbayan box tax free, the recipient/s should be a relative of the sender up to the fourth degree of affinity.
4. Who can send Balikbayan Boxes to the Philippines?
Anyone can send Balikbayan boxes to the Philippines, whether you be a Foreigner or a Filipino who is living abroad for employment, education, permanent residency. Foreigners however are definitely required to pay taxes. Filipinos, on the other hand, are exempted from taxation if and only if they satisfy certain eligibility requirements to be qualified for the privilege.
5. What is the Section 800 (g) Under the CMTA or the Balikbayan box privilege?
Section 800 (g) of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act state that OFWs or any Filipino residing abroad is allowed to send Balikbayan box/es provided that its value do not exceed P150,000. It is likewise declared in that section that the balikbayan box privilege can only be availed three times in a calendar year (January 1- December 31), and that if its value exceeds P150,000, the balikbayan box shall be subject to applicable taxes and duties.
6. How many times can I send balikbayan boxes?
As an OFW or a Filipino residing abroad, you are allowed to send Balikbayan boxes as much as you want. But if you wish to avail the balikbayan box privilege, which grants you the opportunity to send a tax-free and duty-free balikbayan box, you can send a balikbayan box maximum of three times within a calendar year (January 1 to December 31). This is provided that the contents of all shipments do not exceed Php150,000 in total.
7. How many times can I avail the balikbayan box privilege?
As noted earlier, you can avail the balikbayan box privilege only three times within a calendar year (January 1- December 31).
8. How many balikbayan boxes can I send in 1 shipment if I will avail of the balikbayan box privilege? Is an overseas Filipino allowed to send one balikbayan box every 6 months?
There’s no limit as to how many balikbayan boxes you can send. So long as the box/es worth do not exceed P150,000 and the size is not larger than 0.20 cbm, which is about the size of an XL box., then you can avail the balikbayan box privilege.
And yes, an overseas Filipino is allowed to send one balikbayan box every six months. In fact, you can send up to three times within a calendar year (January 1-December 31).
9. What can I put in my balikbayan box if I want to avail balikbayan box privilege?
If you want to avail the balikbayan box privilege, the content of the balikbayan box should be household or personal effects. By household and personal effects, it means consumable or non-consummable goods, provided that they are not prohibited or restricted. Items that are banned in the Philippines include.
- Alcoholic beverages
- Firearms, explosives
- Cement or asphalt
- Dismantled automobile parts (chop chop)
- drug paraphernalia (unless prescribed for medical conditions)
- cheese, Meat, fruits and vegetables (unless canned)
- used clothing of commercial quantity (ukay-ukay or in bales)
- products containing dog or cat fur, as well as animal hide
- perishable food items
Note: taxable items include: dvd player, washing machine, printer, computer, microwave, fax machine, AC, television, and stereo.
10. What happens if the Balikbayan box I want to send exceeds the allowed quantities of values?
If the balikbayan box you want to send exceeds allowed quantities of values, you shall be liable to pay value added tax or excise taxes. Failure to pay will cause you civil and criminal liabilities.
Note: To check the legibility of the declared list of items in the balikbayan box by the sender, the Bureau of Customs said that the Balikbayan boxes, under the supervision of a BOC personnel, have to undergo an X-ray examination. Now if the BOC finds anything suspicious regarding what’s inside the box, it will inevitably be opened or 100 percent physically examined by the BOC personnel. Now, if upon examining a discrepancy is proven, the box will then be segregated and will only be released again if the sender complies with the existing rules.
11. What does Consolidated Cargo manifest mean?
Consolidated Cargo Manifest (CCM) is the shipping document that is used by the Bureau of Customs personnels so that they can review a cargo vehicle’s intended trip. The CCM generally contains the name of the shipment’s consigner and consignee and listing product details, such as value, origin, and destination. The freight forwarders/cargo consolidators are required to electronically submit a CCM to the Bureau of Customs within 24 hours after the time of departure of the carrying vessel.
12. What if the value if my shipment is less than ₱10,000.00?
A balikbayan box shipment whose content does not exceed ₱10,000 means that the balikayan box is no longer taxable.
13. How many balikbayan boxes can qualified overseas Filipinos send?
Qualified overseas Filipinos can send as many balikbayan boxas they want, provided that they haven’t sent balikbayan box/es more than three times a year, and that the total worth do not exceed a total of ₱150,000.
14. What are the correct clearance procedures for sending the balikbayan boxes?
So as to assure that the boxes sent by OFWs or Filipinos residing abroad are only the items permitted, the Bureau of Customs requires senders to:
- Fill up information sheets, where you will have to list all the contents of the box, even secondhand items. In it, you should also input the value of each item and quantity. Now, if the box contains new items, you, as the sender, must provide the necessary receipts to certify the value of the item. As regards second hand items and groceries, receipts need not be shown, however, an approximate value must be declared.
Note: The information sheets can be downloaded online. Here’s the link for the online information sheet, or what others call the declaration form:
But if you want a physical copy, you can also ask for copies from accredited consolidators or foreign freight movers.
- Prepare three copies of the information sheet or declaration form for the consolidator, deconsolidator, and also you as the sender. Aside from the information sheet and some necessary receipts, you must also provide a photocopy of your passport to certify your citizenship. All these will be submitted to the forex cargo or the cargo company.
- Wait for their approval. If they find no malice as regards the content of the box, as its content does not contain any of the prohibited items, then you have a greater chance to be approved to send the Balikbayan box back at home. Items that are taxable must be paid to the BOC first before you will be allowed to send the balikbayan box.
- Here are the Guidelines from the BOC
- Guidelines on the Implementation of CAO No. 05- 2016
15. How much is the processing fee?
The processing fee is worth ₱250.00, and this amount should be paid by the sender to the Bureau of Customs for each balikbayan box to be sent home. Even those parcels that contain items less than the de minimis value of ₱10,000.00 shall be subject to processing fee payment.
16. How Much Penalty for Failure to comply with the obligations?
- first offense – warning
- second offense – ₱100,000 penalty
- third offense – ₱200,000 penalty and six months suspension as an importer
- fourth offense – ₱300,000 penalty and cancellation of registration as an importer