By Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan, November 8 2018; Business World


Image Credit to Business World

THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) has eased the ID requirements for availing of the duty and tax-free privilege for balikbayan boxes valued at up to P150,000.

Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 18- 2018, dated Oct. 11, 2018 allows the use of other documents to show proof of Filipino citizenship for availing the tax-free perk, instead of the actual Philippine passport in previous rules.

The BoC will allow photocopies of a pertinent page of the Philippine passport with personal information, picture and signature, or in case of dual Filipino citizen without Philippine passport, photocopy of foreign passport with personal information, picture and signature plus copy of proof of dual Filipino citizenship; permanent resident ID or equivalent document in other countries; Overseas Employment Certificate/Overseas Workers Welfare Administration card; work permit; Unified Government ID issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE); any other equivalent document except birth certificate.

“In a bid to simplify the rules and regulations on duty and tax-free consolidated balikbayan boxes, qualified Filipinos availing of the P150,000 duty and tax-free privilege are not required to submit the commercial invoices of the goods contained in the balikbayan box. Invoices are to be submitted only if available,” the BoC added.

Qualified individuals are still required to submit the information sheets through their freight forwarders or deconsolidators.

Qualified Filipinos abroad are holders of valid passports issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and certified by DoLE, or Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for overseas employment purposes regardless of profession; Filipinos who have established permanent residency abroad while retaining Filipino citizenship; and resident Filipino citizens temporarily staying overseas including holders of student visas, investor visas, and tourist visas.

The BoC said that the balikbayan boxes should only contain personal and household effects that are not in commercial quantities. The boxes may be sent up to three times in a calendar year, with the cumulative value not exceeding P150,000.

The order also imposes stricter penalties on freight forwarders and deconsolidators, as those who use the balikbayan boxes as conduits for smuggling shall be subject to “criminal prosecution” and “cancellation of registration.”

Deconsolidators and freight forwarders clearing consolidated balikbayan boxes with the BoC are obliged to ensure that only personal effects and household goods are sent.

“The BoC assures the public that balikbayan boxes not subject of derogatory information or are tagged as ‘No Suspect’ after the mandatory non-intrusive inspections (X-ray) shall not be opened and not be subjected to physical examination,” the BoC said. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan