BOC clarifies guidelines on sending duty and tax-free balikbayan boxes

MANILA --The Bureau of Customs clarified the guidelines on sending duty and tax-free balikbayan boxes.

Under Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), 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 in duty and tax-free balikbayan boxes to their families or relatives.

Qualified Filipinos While Abroad (QFWA) refers to OFWs with valid passports issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) 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.

Resident Filipinos, on the other hand, refer to resident Filipino citizens who temporarily stay abroad which may include holders of a student visa, investor’s visa, tourist visa and similar visas which allow them to establish temporary stay abroad.

Balikbayan boxes may be sent up to 3 times in a calendar year provided that the total value shall not exceed P150, 000. Any amount that exceeds the allowable value is subject to payment of duties and taxes.

To qualify for the duty and tax-free privilege, the ultimate recipient or consignee of the balikbayan box must be family or relative up to the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity.

Under Section 800 (g) of the CMTA, balikbayan boxes should only contain personal and household effects such as wearing apparel, personal adornments, electronic gadgets, 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.

The sender or the QFWA is also required to submit an accomplished and signed Information sheet. This may be obtained from consolidators, value-added service providers or through the BOC website at

To avail the privilege, Tax Exemption Indorsement must also be secured from the Department of Finance -Revenue Office.