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‘Balikbayan’ box tax-free up to P150,000

Bureau of Customs says Filipinos working abroad may avail of the new duty- and tax-free privilege up to three times a year
/ 12:59 AM December 11, 2016
PHOTO BY CRISTINA P. RODRIGUEZ

PHOTO BY CRISTINA P. RODRIGUEZ

Good news for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) sending home  “balikbayan” boxes to their loved ones.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Department of Finance have signed the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) prescribing the guidelines on duty- and tax-free balikbayan boxes.  The two agencies signed Customs Administrative Order (CAO) 05-2016, which serves as the IRR of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) covering the sending of such packages.

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“We value the importance of each balikbayan box. (It) symbolizes the hardship of our (OFWs), and the love of Filipinos abroad for their families here in the country,” BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said.

Qualified Filipinos

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CAO 05-2016 takes effect on Dec. 25, Christmas Day, and states that only qualified Filipinos abroad may avail themselves of duty- and tax-free privileges on balikbayan boxes containing personal effects and households goods.

Under the new CMTA, the tax exemption ceiling for balikbayan boxes has now been hiked to P150,000 as long as the items inside the box are not in commercial quantities.

 3 times a year

OFWs may avail themselves of the duty- and tax-free privilege up to three times a year.

Defined as “qualified Filipinos abroad”  are holders of valid passports issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and certified by the Department of Labor and Employment or the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration for overseas employment purposes.

Also included are nonresident Filipinos who have established permanent residency abroad but retained their Filipino citizenship, and resident Filipino citizens who temporarily stay abroad and hold a student visa, investors’ visa, tourist visa and similar visas.

To avail themselves of this privilege, qualified Filipinos must submit: a photocopy of the page of their Philippine passport with personal information, picture and signature, or a photocopy of their foreign passport with personal information, picture and signature, plus a copy of proof of their dual citizenship.

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The qualified Filipino must also submit an invoice, receipt or equivalent document covering the goods in the balikbayan box.  The sender must sign and submit as well the information sheet to be issued by the agency, with the document serving as the packing list.

Electronic format

The international forwarder or consolidator, meanwhile, must submit the information sheets and supporting documents in secured electronic format to the Philippine forwarder or deconsolidator.

The local forwarder shall then transmit the information sheet and supporting documents in a secured electronic format to the BOC, before the arrival of the balikbayan boxes to the Philippines.

For consolidated shipments by sea that have a three-day shipping time, documents must be submitted 24 hours before the package’s arrival.  Those with a seven-day shipping time must have the documents submitted 48 hours before arrival.

For shipments coming from America, Europe, Middle East, and other parts of the world that do not fall under the above-mentioned shipping time, the documents must be submitted 10 days before arrival.

Consolidated shipments carried by aircraft and coming from Asia must have their documents submitted one hour before arrival. Those from other countries must have the documents submitted six hours before arrival.

The BOC said the qualified Filipino sender must also certify that only personal effects and household goods, in noncommercial quantities, are contained in the balikbayan boxes. These include clothes, foodstuff, grocery items, canned goods and other similar items.

A different order covers balikbayan boxes brought in through means other than consolidated shipments.

Faeldon urged all international and local forwarders, foreign consolidators and local deconsolidators to strictly follow the guidelines provided for in CAO 05-2016 to ensure that BOC personnel can expedite clearance procedures, and that all balikbayan boxes are delivered to their receiver with utmost care.

The BOC chief also reminded all port officials and personnel to follow the agency’s “no opening of balikbayan boxes” policy, and to expedite the release and handling of these boxes.

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TAGS: Bureau of Customs, ofws, Overseas Filipino workers, tax-free balikbayan boxes
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