PH Customs order on duty-, tax-free ‘balikbayan’ boxes now in effect

PH Customs order on duty-, tax-free ‘balikbayan’ boxes now in effect


Overseas Filipino workers and Filipinos residing abroad may now send their balikbayan (household goods and personal effects) boxes to the Philippines duty- and tax-free.

Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon on December 23 signed Customs Memorandum Order 33-2016 containing the implementing rules for Customs Administrative Order (CAO) No. 05-2016, which executes the provisions on balikbayan shipments under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA). CMO 33-2016 took effect immediately.

READ: BOC, DOF sign IRR on duty, tax-free shipment of ‘balikbayan’ boxes

Under CAO 05-2016, qualified Filipinos based abroad can send to their families or relatives up to the fourth degree of consanguinity duty- and tax-free balikbayan boxes up to three shipments in a calendar year with a total amount of P150,000.

CMO 33-2016 covers consolidated shipments of balikbayan boxes sent through any port of entry in the Philippines. A separate CMO will cover balikbayan boxes brought in not as part of a consolidated shipment.

Under the new rule, the deconsolidator, or the local freight forwarder or agent of the consolidator, should register at Bureau of Customs’ (BOC) Accounts Management Office every two years and comply with the registration requirements of other government agencies.

The deconsolidator must make sure their principals abroad are made fully aware of the need for balikbayan box senders to supply the required information and documents “to enable the expeditious processing of the shipment and that the data will be used only for the sole purpose of sending the box and shall be covered by the Data Privacy Protection Law existing in the country of origin.”

As a new requirement for sending balikbayan boxes, the sender must also fill out three copies of the information sheet, which may be requested from the consolidator, or the foreign-registered freight forwarder. The information sheet may also be downloaded from the BOC website or the websites of the three BOC-accredited value-added service providers—Cargo Data Exchange Corporation, E-Konek Pilipinas, and InterCommerce Network Services, Inc.

The first copy of the information sheet must be attached to the balikbayan box, the second becomes the sender’s copy, and the third should be submitted to the consolidator.

BOC earlier said the information sheet will serve as the packing list for the agency to determine the contents and worth of the balikbayan box and whether the items are of commercial quantity. To guide senders on how many items to send before these are declared commercial shipments, BOC will be listing the allowed number for certain items as determined by trade regulatory agencies.

All consolidated balikbayan shipments covered by the order are to be subjected to mandatory non-intrusive inspection by a customs officer. If the x-ray image of a shipment is tagged as “suspect” and the printout is stamped “for verification” by the image analysis inspector, the questionable portion of the shipment will undergo 100% physical examination.

BOC may also allow under certain conditions and upon the request of the deconsolidator and with the approval of the district collector, the conditional release of the container for a 100% physical inspection of the balikbayan boxes at the warehouse of the deconsolidator.

These conditions are if the x-ray image is not clear; if there is no derogatory information that the shipment contains prohibited, restricted, or regulated goods; and if the deconsolidator submits an affidavit of undertaking subject to existing customs rules and regulations.

If no discrepancy is found after 100% physical examination, then the customs officer will assess the duties and taxes and other charges due, if any, and allow the balikbayan box to go to the next procedure. If a discrepancy is found, the balikbayan box will be segregated, released only when rules and regulations are met.

The remaining balikbayan boxes inside the shipment with no violation will be allowed to go through continuous processing and be released. – Roumina Pablo

Image courtesy of yodiyim at


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