The Bureau of Customs (BOC) reminded the public in a press release on Thursday, October 15, of the guidelines for sending balikbayan boxes in anticipation of a surge in the Yuletide season.
“As the volume of such shipments increases during the holiday season, the BOC also reminds the public to be cautious in sending their packages and parcels. OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) and claimants are advised to support legitimate and accredited forwarders to avoid the possibility of being scammed by fly-by-night operators,” the BOC said.
The BOC said anyone could send balikbayan boxes to the Philippines – including corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietors – but only Qualified Filipinos While Abroad (QFWA) can avail of the duty- and tax-free privilege under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act 2016 (CMTA).
The following are considered QFWA:
- OFWs with valid passports and certified for overseas employment by the Department of Labor and Employment and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration;
- Non-resident Filipinos with permanent residency abroad but have retained Filipino Citizenship; and
- Resident Filipino citizens with student visa, investors’ visa, tourist visa, and/or similar visas that allow them to establish temporary stay abroad.
To qualify for the tax exemption, the BOC reminded that balikbayan boxes should contain only personal and household effects such as apparel, personal adornment, gadgets, and toiletries. Goods that were in commercial quantities and those intended for sale, hire, or barter were not covered.
These are the other guidelines for sending balikbayan boxes.
- Sending of balikbayan boxes by QFWA to their families and relatives are exempt from payment of duties and taxes up to 3 times, and with a total value not exceeding P150,000 in a calendar year. Any amount that exceeds this is subject to payment of duties and taxes.
- The QFWA/sender should provide an international forwarder or consolidator an accomplished information sheet, photocopy of passport or other IDs indicating citizenship, and invoice or receipt if available.
- The hired international forwarder should then submit all documents, including to the BOC and Philippine forwarder or deconsolidator in a secured electronic format.
- The Philippine forwarder should also submit all documents, including to the BOC in a secured electronic format.
In October 2019, the BOC said it also launched the parcel and balikbayan tracking system to promote transparency, ease of doing business, and a more efficient way of tracking parcels. Balikbayan boxes and other packages can now be accessed through the Customs website.
“Senders are highly encouraged to utilize the system which will provide updates about their shipment as it goes through the different stages of customs clearance,” the BOC said. – Rappler.com