Over the years, I have sent balikbayan boxes to the Philippines for my family. This is very common to all Filipinos working and living abroad. Different gifts and personal items stuff in a big box, it is almost like a Filipino tradition.
Since 1st August 2017, the new policy that has been implemented by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has caused lots of buzz in the media and within the Filipino communities abroad. The new policy regarding the rules of sending the Balikbayan Boxes to the Philippines affects a lot of Filipinos abroad.
I wrote in this post about the Balikbayan box rules amendment, how to send a balikbayan box that is compliant with the new Bureau of Customs guidance and how to qualify for the tax-free exemption.
I also received a few queries about it from fellow Filipinos here in the UK and other parts of the world. Sending Balikbayan boxes to our families in the Philippines has been a part of the Filipino modern tradition.
Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) and the Resident Filipinos abroad are working hard and saving up to fill up these precious balikbayan boxes.
- What are the “Balikbayan boxes”?
- What are these new policies about sending Balikbayan boxes:
- Filipino Community trusted and recommended Balikbayan Box Cargo companies
- Frequently asked questions on how to send Balikbayan box to the Philippines:
- Guidelines about the Import restrictions and the regulated items.
What are the “Balikbayan boxes”?
For those who are not familiar with this term, these are the boxes that Filipinos are sending to their families in the Philippines filled with toys, clothing, appliances, groceries etc. The Balikbayan boxes come in various sizes (Small, Medium, Large and Jumbo) depending on your preference and budget.
Filipinos who work and live abroad, typically fill the Balikbayan boxes throughout the year and send it to their family a few months before the Christmas season or on several occasions in a year.
Here is the quick guide on how to send Balikbayan Box to the Philippines:
What are these new policies about sending Balikbayan boxes:
The new policy primarily aims to tackle the illegal importation (smuggling) of imported goods in the Philippines. The tax will also be a new source of revenue for the government public funds.
From 1st August 2017, balikbayan boxes will now be subject to duty and import tax with certain exemptions and limitations.
What do I have to do?
You can still carry-on and send your balikbayan boxes as usual. However, there are a few things that you should make note of.
Based on the new policy, valuable new items (e.g. gadgets, jewellery, appliances, watches etc.) that are sent thru the Balikbayan box should need to be declared and supported with a receipt if it’s brand new.
The used items, groceries and less valuable new items (e.g everyday clothing, toiletries, chocolates etc.) is not required to have a receipt when sent thru the balikbayan box but you have to list them on the declaration form.
Upon sending the Balikbayan box, the sender is required to fill up the declaration form that is provided by the Bureau of Customs. This will be submitted together with the receipt/s or proof of purchase to the Cargo companies that will transport the Balikbayan Boxes to the Philippines, IF AVAILABLE.
The declaration list and the receipts will be the basis of the duty and import tax that you have to pay when the items arrive in the Philippines.
What are the exemptions and limitations?
Everyone is still allowed to send a balikbayan box to the Philippines. However, the balikbayan box that won’t qualify for the exemptions and limitations will be subject to duty and import tax.
The Bureau of Customs set some special arrangements for the Qualified Filipinos While Abroad.
The Qualified Filipinos While Abroad (QFWA) are the OFWs, Non-resident Filipinos abroad who established a Permanent residency overseas but retained their Filipino Citizenship (Dual Citizen), and the Filipino Citizen who acquired a temporary visa to stay abroad (e.g. students, business visa etc.)
Qualified Filipinos While Abroad (QFWA) and Dual Citizens Filipinos can now send up to 150,000 Pesos worth of TAX-FREE BALIKBAYAN BOXES containing personal effects and household items ONLY, based on the new terms and condition about the BALIKBAYAN BOX. You can read the new terms and conditions here.
- A copy of the Philippine passport
- If dual citizen without a Philippine passport, a copy of their Oath of Allegiance provided by the embassy during their Re-acquisition of the Philippine citizenship.
- The Information sheet (declaration list) from the BOC (link provided above)
- Receipt of the valuable items, if available.
The QFWA is limited to send 3 balikbayan boxes with the total worth value of PHP 150,000 per calendar year to qualify for the duty and tax exemption. The items should not be in commercial quantity and considered to be allowed and/or regulated items.
If the balikbayan box would worth below PHP 10,000 it won’t be classified as part of the duty and tax-free exemption scheme, but will be classified as De Minimis Importation so it is automatically exempted to the duty and importation tax.
If you go over the allowed limits and conditions, the balikbayan box will be subjected to duty and import tax. Only the family and close relatives of the QFWA should be the receiver of the balikbayan box in the Philippines.
If the QFWA will be sending the balikbayan box to their friends or non-relatives, this will also be subjected to the duty and import tax (if over the allowance of De Minimis Importation value of Php 10, 000).
For Non / Previous Filipino Citizens (PH citizens who acquired new citizenship from other country and choose not to retain their PH citizenships), will also have to pay for the duty and import tax (if over the De Minimis Importation value of 10,000 PHP), same goes with other foreign nationals who wish to send balikbayan boxes in the Philippines.
Don’t forget to include the itemized list of the goods that you will be sending so they can provide you with a correct computation.
If you have decided to apply to reclaim your Filipino citizenship after acquiring new citizenship from another country, I made a blog post about it, please read it on the link below.
Filipino Community trusted and recommended Balikbayan Box Cargo companies
As I have sent a lot of balikbayan boxes over the years, I have compiled here the names of the companies I have used and the recommendations of my fellow Filipinos thru word of mouth, Filipino online communities and Barrio fiestas etc. I have listed them down below in no particular order.
You will typically pay a minimum deposit upon ordering the box. During the delivery of the empty box, the company will give you their company version of the declaration item list form that you have to fill in ready for collection.
Address: Unit 16A, Roxwell Trading Park, Argall Ave, London E10 7QY
Contact number: +44 (020) 8520 6435 | +44 (020) 8509 1434
Mobile: +44 (0) 777 072 74 86
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com
LBC Express – United Kingdom
Address: Unit 9, Victoria Industrial Estate, Victoria Rd, North Acton, London W3 6UU
Contact Number: +44 207 373 2331
Address: 7, Alpha Estate, Clayton Rd, Hayes UB3 1BB
Contact Number: +44 20 8813 7064
United States of America (USA) and Canada
Contact Number: +1-888-652-2522
Address: 328 39 Ave SE, T2G 1X6 Calgary Alberta
Contact Number: (403) 243-2912 / (403) 873-6739
Frequently asked questions on how to send Balikbayan box to the Philippines:
How would I know my limit or differentiate the personal and commercial quantity of goods in my Balikbayan box?
We do sometimes get carried away on how much stuff we can put in our Balikbayan box for our family and relatives. Here are the guidelines from the BOC
Guidelines about the Import restrictions and the regulated items.
I hope that this clarifies the process on how you can send your Balikbayan Boxes to the Philippines under the new policy of the Bureau of Customs.