Documentary Requirements for Balikabayan Boxes Suspended until March 31, 2018

Are you fed up with the arduous and irritating New Balikbayan Box customs rule? With so many documentary requirements (i.e. invoices, receipts, and proof of payment of ALL purchased items), how can you send the gifts for your loved ones on time and tax-free on Christmas?


Related Article: What You Need to Know about the New Balikbayan Box Regulations


With the surge of criticisms from OFWs, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) SUSPENDED Customs Administrative Order (CAO) 05-2016 and Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) 04-2017 until March 31, 2018, for the new “Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMAT).


The CMAT allows an increase to P150,000 per year ceiling for Balikbayan boxes shipped by OFWs. This is a much-welcomed change from the P10,000 maximum amount from the previous legislation.


Former BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon stated in a Facebook post:


“Ang programa pong ito ay isang pribilehiyo at regalo ng gobyerno sa ating mga kababayan. Kaya po tayo’y nananawagan at umaapela sa likas na kabutihan ng ating mga kakababayan na huwag po itong abusuhin para sa tunay na pagbabago”


[This program is a privilege and a gift by the government to our fellow Filipinos. We appeal to the inherent goodwill of our fellow Filipinos to not abuse (this privilege) for true change.]


The essence of the law is well founded. And safeguards to reach proper implementation were in place.


But the implementing rules made it difficult to enjoy this P150,000. The documentary requirements are cumbersome. And, upon X-ray, if the BOC finds suspected articles, it will be physically examined. If the articles are found to be with discrepancy as to the declared items and amount, the items will be separated and subject to the current rules for customs declaration.

And, upon X-ray, if the BOC finds suspected articles, it will be physically examined

Image Credit: Pambato


This means you will be taxed (Customs Duties + VAT) on the segregated items before release. And in some instances, the tax might be greater than the value of the item itself.


The guidelines supposedly deter smugglers from importing items to the Philippines. (But how did 6.4 Billion PHP worth of Shabu pass these X-ray machines. And not to mention, left a warehouse caretaker responsible and in jail? Intriguing.)


Furthermore, not everyone keeps the receipts for the gifts they send to their loved ones. Will they suffer hefty taxes because of these tedious documentary requirements?


Intention of the Law

  Intention of the Law  

The intention of the law is to give our OFWs a privilege for being the new Heroes of today. With OFW remittances now ranging above $2 Billion dollars PER MONTH, P150,000 yearly customs duties exemption is just a small price to reward our OFWs.


But during an oversight committee on the review of CMTA’s implementation, Senator Angara pointed out the true intention of the law. The law intends THREE P150,000 worth of tax-free Balikbayan Boxes, or up to P450,000 exemption in a year. Not the current P150,000 yearly tax-exempt ceiling.


He urged the Department of Finance (DOF) and BOC to quickly resolve the issues for the upcoming Christmas.




The new customs commissioner Isidro S. Lapena moved to suspend the implementing rules.


“Although it is our duty to facilitate custom clearance of Balikbayan boxes, we cannot set aside the sentiments of our fellow Filipinos abroad. With the suspension of the current procedure on Balikbayan box, the previous regulation will be enforced.” Commissioner Isidro S. Lapena said.


With this announcement, I hope everyone gets appeased this coming Christmas Season. Now, you can go back to this To-Do list before sending your Balikbayan box.


Happy Holidays!

Leandro Eclipse

Leandro Eclipse is an entrepreneur who loves to travel. He believes in building multiple Location-Independent Sources of Income. Because if you are going to work anyway, might as well do it while exploring the world. Self-proclaimed foodie and tech geek. Follow him on IG @mikoeclipse.


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