Customs clarifies rules on sending duty-free and tax-free balikbayan boxes

By Betheena Unite

The Bureau of Customs recently clarified guidelines on sending duty-free and tax-free balikbayan boxes as the volume of such shipments increase during the holiday season.


Under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (Republic Act No. 10863), returning residents, overseas Filipino workers (OFW), and other Filipinos residing abroad or upon their return to the Philippines are allowed to bring in or send duty and tax-free balikbayan boxes to their families or relatives, the bureau said.

Customs also said qualified Filipinos while abroad (QFWA) refers to OFWs with valid passports issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and certified by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) or the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for overseas employment purposes.

“They cover all Filipinos working in a foreign country under employment contracts, regardless of their professions, skills, or employment status. It also includes Filipinos working abroad under job contracts that do not require certification from DOLE or POEA,” the bureau said.

Resident Filipinos who temporarily stay abroad that are holders of a student visa, investor’s visa, tourist visa, and similar visas, can also benefit from the privilege.

Customs said balikbayan boxes may be sent up to three times in a calendar year provided that the total value of goods shall not exceed P150,000.00. Any amount that exceeds the allowable value is subject to payment of duties and taxes.

The bureau also reminded Filipinos abroad that balikbayan boxes should only contain personal and household effects such as wearing apparel, personal adornments, electronic gadgets, and toiletries to qualify for tax exemption.

“Goods in commercial quantities and those intended for sale or for hire are not covered by the duty and tax-free balikbayan box,” it added.

The sender must also submit an accomplished and signed information sheet that can be obtained from consolidators, value-added service providers, or through the Customs bureau website at