Balikbayan boxes to be tax-free starting Christmas Day

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Balikbayan boxes will be exempt from taxes and duties starting December 25 after the Bureau of Customs and Department of Finance signed Customs Administrative Order 05-2016.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Balikbayan boxes will be exempted from duties and taxes starting Christmas Day.

This is according to a statement released by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) yesterday which said that it, along with the Department of Finance (DOF), signed Customs Administrative Order (CAO) 05-2016.

According to the statement, "CAO 05-2016 CAO 05-2016 serves as the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) on Section 800 (g) of the Customs and Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA)."

It states that balikbayan boxes sent by Qualified Filipinos While Abroad (QFWA) via consolidated shipment to families and relatives will be tax free.

It says, however, that boxes sent through other means "shall be covered by a different CAO."

According to the CMTA, QFWA are:

1. holders of valid passports issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and certified by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) or Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for overseas employment purposes regardless of profession;

2. non-resident Filipinos who have established permanent residency abroad but retained their Filipino citizenship; and,

3. 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).

To be granted this privilege, the following requirements must be met:

(1) A QFWA shall submit the following supporting documents:

iPhotocopy of a page of his/her Philippine passport with personal information, picture and signature, or photocopy of his/her foreign passport with personal information, picture and signature plus proof of copy of dual citizenship;

ii. Invoice, receipt or equivalent document covering the goods in the balikbayan box, if any.

(2) A QFWA shall accomplish, sign and submit the Information Sheet, which will be issued by BOC and will serve as the packing list.

(3) The international forwarder/consolidator shall submit these Information Sheets and supporting documents in a secured electronic format to local (Philippine) forwarder/deconsolidator.

(4) The local forwarder/deconsolidator shall transmit to the Bureau the Information Sheet and supporting documents in a secured electronic format before the arrival of the balikbayan boxes to the Philippines and within the period prescribed:

For consolidated shipments by sea:

a. For shipments that will take 3-day shipping time: 24 hours prior to arrival

b. For shipments that will take 7-day shipping time: 48 hours prior to arrival

c. For shipments coming from America, Europe, Middle East, and other parts of the world that does not fall under the above shipping time: 10 days prior to arrival.

For consolidated shipments carried by aircraft:

a. For those coming from Asia - 1 hour prior to arrival

b. For those coming from other countries - 6 hours prior to arrival

(5) A QFWA shall also certify that only personal effects and household goods, which shall not be in commercial quantities, are sent through balikbayan boxes.

The BOC clarifies that the CAO will come into effect 15 days after its publication in a newspaper. As it was published on December 10, it shall take effect on December 25.

It further states that "only QFWAs who send their boxes after this CAO is in effect and who have duly accomplished the Information Sheet and complied with the requirements stated in the CAO can avail of this privilege."

Expedite release of balikbayan boxes

Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said, "We value the importance of each balikbayan box. They symbolize the hardship of our overseas Filipino workers, and the love of Filipinos abroad for their families here in the country."

He called on forwarders, local deconsolidators, and foreign consolidators  to follow the guidelines so that balikbayan boxes may be released promptly following clearance procedures,

He added that port officials must follow the "no opening of balikbayan boxes" policy unless there is derogatory information that warrants the opening of these boxes. BOC is also appealing to the public not to misuse the privilege granted by law.