Customs Suspends Receipts, Passport Copy Requirements for Sending Balikbayan Box to Philippines

Filipinos based overseas will no longer be required to submit passport copies, purchase receipts or price of individual items inside balikbayan boxes they send to the Philippines.

The more stringent guidelines by the Bureau of Customs for sending tax-free balikbayan boxes imposed since August 1 this year were suspended from yesterday until March 31 next year.

In a statement, BOC said the new rules which took effect last month have been temporarily suspended in the wake of criticisms from overseas Filipino workers.

“Although it is our duty to facilitate customs clearance of balikbayan boxes, we cannot set aside the sentiments of our fellow Filipinos abroad,” Customs Commissioner Isidro S. Lapeña said.

He added that following a more thorough review on how the law granting benefits of sending tax-free goods by Filipinos abroad will be better enforced, new guidelines may be included after the suspension of the guidelines.

In the meantime, senders will revert to the old practice of simply filling out a document provided by the cargo forwarding company, on which they must indicate the description and quantity of contents in each box, without providing the exact value nor proof of ownership.

Cora Ong of Hong Kong-based forwarder Asian Dragon welcomed this update from the BOC, saying the stricter rules were a big headache to both sender and the courier company because of the additional documentation that were required.

She advised sending balikbayan box companies be sent earlier to avoid backlog caused by the implementation of previous guidelines.

“Kung dati ay nagpapadala kayo ng mga pamasko ng bandang Nobyembre, ngayon ay mag-umpisa na kayo dapat para siguradong makarating sa inyong pamilya bago mag Pasko,” she said.

Under both Customs Administrative Order 05-2016 and Customs Memorandum Order 04-2017, Filipino citizens who send balikbayan boxes home are required to submit a photocopy of their Philippine passport and fill in a detailed form to avail of the tax exemption.

They were also required to provide a copy of the invoice, receipt, or proof of payment of each new item costing more than P10,000. Only personal and household goods in non-commercial quantity could be sent.

Each sender could only ship three boxes per year, with the total value of the goods not to exceed P150,000. In addition, sender could only send the boxes to close relatives.