Taxwise Or Otherwise

The Christmas and New Year holidays are over! Just when you become comfortable with a daily schedule of wake up-eat-do nothing-sleep, reality returns and it’s always a struggle to get back to your old routine.
For those who spent their holidays travelling overseas, it’s time to wrap up those itineraries, pack all the souvenirs you will hand out as pasalubong and prepare for the journey home.
If you’re coming home from a trip and still have excess money on hand, make sure that you are aware of the rules with regard to the amount of cash that you are allowed to carry during your travels.
The Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), under its Manual of Regulations on Foreign Exchange Transactions (FX regulation) does not restrict or limit the amount of foreign currency that a person may bring in or take out of the Philippines. However, if the amount exceeds $10,000 or its equivalent in other foreign currency, it must be declared in writing using the prescribed Foreign Currency and Other FX Denominated Bearer Monetary Instruments Declaration Form. The form is available at the Bureau of Customs (BoC) desk at the arrival/departure areas of all international airports and seaports. A copy of the form may also be downloaded from the BSP Web site under MORFXT Forms, Annexes and Appendices (Annex K).
If you are traveling with children, each child traveling with a parent or guardian is allowed to bring into or out of the Philippines up to $10,000 or its equivalent in other foreign currency without a written declaration. If the amount to be hand carried by each person is in excess of $10,000 or its equivalent foreign currency (e.g. the child is not of age or is incapable of handling currency), the total amount to be transported should be declared in writing using the prescribed form, indicating the allocations per person or traveler. In such a case, the child/children must likewise be physically present with the parent or guardian upon Customs inspection.
For travelers carrying pesos, FX regulations only allow resident or foreign travelers to and from the Philippines to bring or electronically transfer Philippine notes, coins and other monetary instruments in an amount not exceeding P50,000. An authorization from the BSP is required for any amount in excess of the limit.
If you are traveling with children, each child is also allowed to bring up to P50,000 as long as each person (parent/ guardian and child) does not hand-carry more than that amount. If any child is not of age or is incapable of handling currency, then the total amount of pesos allocated for that child shall be hand-carried by the parent or guardian but it should be ensured that: (a) the child is physically present with the parent or guardian upon Customs inspection; (b) the total amount allocated per person, inclusive of the allotment for the child, should not average more than P50,000; and (c) the allocation per person is fully explained to authorities by the parent or guardian.
The above limit does not include the peso amount of the International Passenger Service Charge (IPSC) refunded to outbound exempt passengers during the implementation of said IPSC refund. These passengers are exempt under Philippine laws from payment of travel tax, airport tax and other travel related taxes or fees. Such passengers include (a) the Philippine Sports Commission and its delegations or representatives under Republic Act No. 6847, or The Philippine Sports Commission Act; and (b) Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) under Republic Act No. 10022, or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, provided that the refund is made prior to departure at airports or other ports of exit.
Failure to comply with the rules shall subject the violators to sanctions, including confiscation of the currency or monetary instruments involved. Strictly speaking, under Section 36 of Republic Act No. 7653, any person that willfully violates the Central Bank Act or other pertinent banking laws implemented by the BSP or any order, instruction, rule or regulation issued by the Monetary Board, shall be punished by a fine ranging from P50,000 to P200,000, or by imprisonment of 2-10 years, or both, at the discretion of the court.
Though it is legal in the Philippines to bring in or take out local or foreign currency in amounts more than the above limits, proper declaration and authorization must be done or secured beforehand to avoid any problems during your travels. Unless there is a good reason to carry that much money, it might be better off to travel with less cash and make use of available ATM machines or credit cards as needed.
People who dedicate most of their time to work and other responsibilities outside of work deserve to have a vacation where they can relax and spend quality time alone or with family and friends. I hope the readers of this column have had a chance to do that over the holidays.
The views or opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Isla Lipana & Co. The content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for specific advice.
Nestine P. Buisan is a senior consultant at the Tax Services Department of Isla Lipana & Co., the Philippine
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