Tax-free balikbayan boxes starting Dec. 25

Posted on December 12, 2016

OVERSEAS workers and other qualified Filipinos based abroad can start availing of tax-free shipments to home starting Christmas day this year, after the Bureau of Customs (BoC) and the Department of Finance (DoF) signed yesterday the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) on duty-free balikbayan boxes.

Customs Administrative Order (CAO) 05-2016 exempts Qualified Filipinos While Abroad (QFWA) from the payment of duties and taxes on balikbayan boxes containing personal effects and household goods that are not in commercial quantities.

Under the IRR, the QFWA includes: holders of valid passports and certified by the Department of Labor and Employment or Philippine Overseas Employment Administration for overseas employment purposes regardless of profession; nonresident Filipinos who have established permanent residency abroad but retained their Filipino citizenship; and resident Filipino citizens who temporarily stay abroad (holders of student visa, tourist visa, and the like).

QFWAs are required to submit an Information Sheet to the BoC prior to the arrival of their shipments to the Philippines.

Based on the CAO, the exemption shall be applicable only up to three times and not exceeding the value of P150,000 in a calendar year. Balikbayan boxes brought in through means other than consolidated shipments shall be covered by a different CAO.

Cargo sent by sea that would take 3-day and 7-day shipping times would require the necessary documents to be filed at the BoC 24 and 48 hours before arrival, respectively.

Meanwhile, sea shipments coming from America, Europe, Middle East, and other parts of the world that does not fall under the above shipping time will require the documents to be passed 10 days prior to arrival.

Documents of shipments coming from Asia sent via aircraft must be filed an hour at most before arrival. For those coming from other countries, documents should be filed within 6 hours before the arrival.

Customs Commissioner Nicanor E. Faeldon, in a statement, said, “We value the importance of each balikbayan box. They symbolize the hardship of our overseas Filipino workers, and the love of Filipinos abroad for their families here in the country.”

Mr. Faeldon also reminded all port officials and personnel to expedite the release and handling of the boxes and to follow the Bureau’s ‘no opening of balikbayan boxes’ policy unless there is “derogatory information” that warrants the opening of these boxes.

CAO 05-2016 was issued based on the Customs Modernization Tariff Act signed May 2016, which aims promote the ease of trade procedures, reduce avenues for corruption, improve Customs service delivery and improve supply chain. -- Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan