Tax-free balikbayan box policy starts August

Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 25 2017 08:12 PM

MANILA- Starting next month, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) may send up to three shipments for their loved ones back home without having to spend extra for taxes and duties. 

This as the Bureau of Customs (BoC) is set to implement the tax-free balikbayan box policy on Aug. 1, Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said Tuesday.

After several months of delay, the BoC will begin enforcing the policy where up to three shipments from "qualified Filipinos while abroad" will be exempt from duties and taxes, as long as they do not exceed a total value of P150,000.

According to Customs Administrative Order (CAO) 05-2016, "qualified Filipinos" are those who are:

  • Holders of valid passports issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and certified by the Department of Labor and Employment or Philippine Overseas Employment Administration for overseas employment purposes regardless of profession;
  • Non-resident Filipinos who have established permanent residency abroad but retained their Filipino citizenship; and,
  • Resident Filipino citizens who temporarily stay abroad (may include holders of student visa, investors’ visa, tourist visa, and similar visas which allow them to establish temporary stay abroad).

Interested migrant workers need to fill up an information sheet on the customs bureau's website and submit a few documents to their chosen package forwarder, including: 

  • Photocopy of the page of their Philippine passport with personal information, picture and signature, or photocopy of their foreign passport with personal information, picture and signature plus proof of copy of dual citizenship; and,
  • Invoice, receipt or equivalent document covering the goods in the balikbayan box, if any.

The sending party has to itemize each shipment with corresponding prices to determine if the total amount has reached P150,000. 

Faeldon said only the sender, delivery company and receiver will know the items of the balikbayan box. 

He assured the public that boxes will not be opened unless there is a discrepancy in the declared contents. 

Faeldon called the policy a gift to OFWs, as government is pushing through with its implementation even if the bureau is expected to lose P75 billion in revenues annually.