Customs Scraps Stricter Door-To-Door Rules – For Now
By Daisy CL Mandap
Filipinos abroad will no longer be required to submit passport copies, receipts, or set a price for each item in the balikbayan box they send back to the Philippines.
The stricter guidelines for sending tax-free balikbayan boxes were suspended from Oct. 5 until March 31 next year. In a statement, the Bureau of Customs said the rules which took effect on August 1 this year have been temporarily suspended in the wake of criticisms from overseas Filipino workers.
“Although it is our duty to facilitate customs clearance of balikbayan boxes, we cannot set aside the sentiments of our fellow Filipinos abroad,” Customs Commissioner Isidro S. Lapeña said.
He added that new guidelines may be imposed after the deadline, following a more thorough study of how the law granting tax-free benefits to goods sent by Filipinos from abroad could be better enforced.
In the meantime, senders will revert to the old practice of just filling up a packing list provided by the cargo company, in which they must indicate the items in each box, but not declare their value, or attach proof of their identity.
Cora Ong of Hong Kong- based forwarder Asian Dragon welcomed Customs’ move, saying the stricter rules were a big headache to everyone because of the additional documentation that were required.
Although her company never asked senders passport copies, it did require them to fill in the 3-page long customs declaration form, which meant bigger workload for her staff.
Still, she said it is best if senders would give more allowance for sending boxes home because there should still be a backlog from implementing the previous guidelines.
“Kung dati ay nagpapadala kayo ng mga pamasko ng bandang Nobyembre, ngayon ay mag-umpisa na kayo dapat para siguradong makarating sa inyong pamilya bago mag Pasko,” she said.
Under both Customs Administrative Order 05-2016 and Customs Memorandum Order 04-2017, Filipino citizens who sent balikbayan boxes home were required to submit a photocopy of their Philippine passport and fill in a detailed form to avail of the tax exemption.
They were also required to provide a copy of the invoice, receipt, or proof of payment of each new item costing more than Php10,000. Only personal and household goods in non-commercial quantity could be sent.
Each sender could only ship three boxes per year, with the total value of the goods not to exceed Php150,000. In addition, they could only send boxes to close relatives.