Duty-free balikbayan box rules suspended

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THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) said it has suspended new guidelines on the processing of duty- and tax-free privileges for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) sending balikbayan boxes, saying OFWs have found the requirements to be burdensome.

Customs Commissioner Isidro S. Lapeña said the BoC is receiving numerous complaints on the documents required to avail of the privilege.

“Although it is our duty to facilitate customs clearance of balikbayan boxes, we cannot set aside the sentiments of our fellow Filipinos abroad,” he said in a statement.

“With the suspension of the current procedure on balikbayan boxes, the previous regulation will be enforced,” he added.

The order suspends Customs Administrative Order (CAO) 05-2016 issued last year.

Currently, qualified Filipinos while abroad must accomplish an Information Sheet, submit a photocopy of their passport, a copy of the invoice, and proof of purchase of goods contained in the box to qualify for the P150,000 tax exemption. 

The suspension of CAO 5-2016 and Customs Memorandum Order  14-2017 is in effect until March 31, 2018, according to the BoC. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan