Customs issues reminders for duty-free shipments of balikbayan boxes ahead of Christmas season
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Customs issues reminders for duty-free shipments of balikbayan boxes ahead of Christmas season
Ian Nicolas Cigaral ( - October 16, 2020 - 11:55am

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs on Friday issued fresh reminders to Filipinos abroad who are planning to send home balikbayan boxes, in anticipation of the typical influx of shipments during the holiday season.

In a statement, the bureau said that while anyone can send balikbayan boxes to the Philippines, only qualified Filipino expats can avail of the duty-free privilege under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

Signed in 2016, CMTA provides that Filipinos abroad can enjoy tax- and duty-free shipments of balikbayan boxes up to three times per year provided that the total value of the items inside the boxes does not exceed P150,000

Charges will apply to any amount that exceeds the allowable value, Customs said.

"To avail of this privilege, the Bureau also reminds Filipinos that balikbayan boxes should contain only personal and household effects such as wearing apparel, personal adornment, gadgets, and toiletries to qualify for the tax exemption," the bureau said.

"Goods which are in commercial quantities and those intended for sale, hire, or barter, are not covered by the duty- and tax-free privilege," it added.

Chronic weakness in global trade amid the pandemic continued to weigh on revenues generated by Customs, although collections amounting to P50.2 billion in September were enough to exceed the government’s tempered target for the month by 33.2%.

Last month marked the fourth straight month that the bureau collected more revenues than programmed. That said, revenues in September remained 15.2% below same period last year as lockdowns at home and abroad interrupted trade.

Customs, which traditionally accounts for a fifth of state revenues every year, mainly generate revenues from import levies. But after the health crisis swept the globe last March, the flow of shipments were crippled, translating to lower revenues just when government scrambles to raise cash to fund its costly virus response.

Adding to Customs’ worries is the strong peso. A strong local currency allows traders to purchase imported goods at much lower costs. Import costs, in turn, serve as base for computing taxes, which therefore go down together with prices. 

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