Duty-free Shopping in the Philippines for Balikbayans

By Atty. Mike Templo

Posted at Apr 21 2010 01:00 PM | Updated as of Apr 21 2010 09:05 PM

As a general rule, all articles, when imported from any foreign country into the Philippines, shall be subject to duty and tax upon each importation, even though previously exported from the Philippines, except as otherwise specifically provided in the Customs Code or in other laws.  (Section 100, Tariff and Customs Code, as amended).

You are considered a “Balikbayan” of the Philippines if you fall under any of the following categories listed below:
(1)  You are a “Balikbayan” if you are a Filipino citizen who has been continuously out of the Philippines for a period of alt least one (1) year from the date of last departure;
(2) You are a “Balikbayan” if you are a Filipino Overseas Worker or OFW;
(3) You are a “Balikbayan” if you are a former Filipino with a foreign passport;
(4) You are a “Balikbayan” if you are a spouse of and travelling with a former Filipino with a foreign passport;
(5) You are a “Balikbayan” if you are a child of and travelling with a former Filipino with a foreign passport.
Of course, there are exemptions to the general rule above such as Adult passengers can bring in the following without having to pay the corresponding duty and tax:
(1)   Two (2) reams of cigarettes or two (2) tins of tobacco;
(2)   Two (2) bottles of liquor or wine not exceeding one (1) liter per bottle
Balikbayan and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are entitled to a Ten Thousand Peso (Php 10,000) duty exception to their USED personal and household effects. If your personal or household effects go over this amount, then that amount will be subject to ad valorem duty in accordance with Executive Order 206. In addition, OFWs are entitled to duty and tax-free privileges on their USED appliances limited to one of every kind provided these appliances do not exceed Ten Thousand Pesos (Php 10,000).  Again, any appliance in excess of this amount will be subject to duty and tax.
If, prior to your trip to the Philippines, you weren’t able to purchase “pasalubong” for your friends and relative in the Philippines, you can still do some last minute shopping when you arrive in the country by way of Philippine Duty-Free Shopping.  You can enjoy a one-time duty free shopping spree within 48 hours from the date of your arrival into the Philippines.  All you need to do is present your passport, your ticket and boarding pass.  You can find these government licensed duty free retail shops near the airport.  If you are a frequent traveller, you can spend up to Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000) worth of duty-free shopping per year.  The only limitation to this is that the shopping privilege is non-transferable and that minors cannot purchase certain items such as cigarettes, liquors, wines, to name a few.
Atty. Michael Templo is an attorney admitted to practice law in New York State and Federal Courts and is a partner at Templo & Templo http://www.templolaw.com with offices in New York, USA and Makati City, Philippines.  Atty. Templo specializes in US Immigration matters.  Atty. Mike Templo is also a host for ANC’s “Crossing Borders”.
The discussion above is not intended as legal advice, and cannot be relied upon for any purpose without the services of a qualified professional.  For your comments and questions, Atty. Templo can be reached at [email protected] or log on to www.templolaw.com.