What is Balikbayan Box?
Balikbayan Boxes are packages of personal effects and/or “pasalubongs” sent by Filipinos residing or working abroad to their families or relatives in the Philippines to enhance Philippine tradition and culture for the promotion and preservation of strong family ties through love and caring expressed in gift-giving. A balikbayan box (Filipino luggage) is an ubiquitous corrugated box containing any number of small items and sent by an overseas Filipino known as a “balikbayan”. Though often shipped by freight forwarders specializing in balikbayan boxes by sea, such boxes can be brought by Filipinos returning to the Philippines by air.
The balikbayan box arose in the 1980s when Section 105 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines as amended by Executive Order No. 206 provides duty and tax free privileges to overseas foreign workers ( OFW ) enacted by former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos due to resurgence of Filipinos working overseas.
The Philippine Bureau of Customs Circular allowed tax-free entry of personal goods in the country from Filipinos overseas. People then began sending items through friends and co-workers who were returning to the Philippines.
Balikbayan boxes may contain items the sender thinks the recipient would like, regardless of whether those items can be bought cheaply in the Philippines, such as non-perishable food, toiletries, household items, electronics, toys, designer clothing, or items difficult to find in the Philippines.
A balikbayan box intended for air travel is designed to conform to airline luggage restrictions and many Filipino stores sell them. Some boxes come with a cloth cover and side handles. Others are tightly secured with tape or rope, and thus not confused with an ordinary moving box that is lightly wrapped.
The balikbayan boxes come in four standard sizes:
- Medium: 18 x 16 x 18 inches
- Large: 18 x 18 x 24 inches
- Extra large: 24 x 18 x 24 inches
- Small 7 x 7 x 7 inches
1. WHAT ARE ALLOWED IN “BALIKBAYAN BOXES”?
Non-commercial goods or goods not in commercial quantity strictly for personal use only, such as: wearing apparel, clothing, foodstuffs/grocery items/canned goods; the value of which must not exceed US$500.00.
2. HOW OFTEN CAN FILIPINOS RESIDING OR WORKING ABROAD SEND A “BALIKBAYAN BOX” TO THEIR FAMILIES AND RELATIVES IN THE PHILIPPINES?
One consignor/sender is allowed to send one (1) box during a six (6) -month period.
3. WHAT IS A CONSOLIDATED DOOR-TO-DOOR SHIPMENT?
Two (2) or more balikbayan boxes from two (2) or more individual consignors/senders abroad, assembled and consolidated at one point of origin/exportation and shipped together under a single master ocean bill of lading or master airway bill by a freight forwarder/consolidator to its breakbulk/consolidator agent in the Philippines.
4. WHO IS ALLOWED TO CONSOLIDATE “BALIKBAYAN BOXES” ABROAD?
A foreign freight forwarding entity/ consolidator duly licensed and registered with the Philippine consular office.
5. WHO IS ALLOWED TO RELEASE A CONSOLIDATED DOOR-TO-DOOR SHIPMENTS FROM THE PHILIPPINE BUREAU OF CUSTOMS?
The Philippine agent/representative of a freight forwarder/consolidator named in a master bill of lading or master airway bill as consignee of a consolidated shipment duly licensed by the Philippine Shippers’ Bureau (PSB) of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
6. ARE THE “BALIKBAYAN BOXES OPENED BY THE PHILIPPINE CUSTOMS?
Yes, a 100% examination of the consolidated shipment is required by law:
- To protect the legitimate interests of consignors/senders and their consignees, in particular, and the transacting public, in general;
- To protect the interest of the government;
- To prevent and suppress smuggling and other fraud upon customs.
Verification can be made with the Philippine Shippers’ Bureau (PSB) under the Department of Trade and Industry on their website: www.dti.gov.ph/consumerwelfare/accreditationoffreightforwarders/listofaccredited or by calling these numbers during office hours: (632) 7513304 or (632) 7513307, contact person: Mr. Jun Bernal.
8. WHO DELIVERS THE “BALIKBAYAN BOXES” TO THE ULTIMATE CONSIGNEES/RECIPIENTS?
The Philippine agent/representative of a freight forwarder/consolidator named in a master bill of lading or master airway bill as consignee of a consolidated shipment duly licensed by the Philippine Shippers’ Bureau (PSB) of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and/or a local delivery company hired by the Philippine agent.
9. WHAT CAUSES THE DELAY/NON-DELIVERY OF THE BOXES TO THEIR ULTIMATE CONSIGNEES?
Any of the following can cause delays/non-delivery of “balikbayan boxes” to their ultimate consignees:
- Unforseen circumstances and/or natural calamity like typhoon that sets back the arrival of cargo carrying vessels;
- Consolidated shipments are tainted by:
- Undeclared and/or misdeclared goods;
- Banned or regulated cargoes like firearms and ammunitions, prohibited drugs, pornographic materials, gambling materials/apparatus;
- Goods in commercial quantity;
- Consolidated shipments that are abandoned by the Philippine agent/ representative/ broker for reasons of non-remittance of funds by the foreign freight forwarding entity/ consolidator.
No, these are not allowed in “Balikbayan” Boxes. These are not considered personal effects or household good and are thus treated differently; other documentary requirements are needed for these to be brought into the Philippines without which these vehicles cannot be registered with the land Transportation Office (LTO).
11.Do I have to pay customs tax?
Balikbayan box is for shipping personal (non-commercial) goods only and is not taxable with some exceptions. Philippine customs may impose customs duty if they inspect your box and feel that your items are intended for resale. Electronic items and appliances are taxable. The recipient is responsible for paying customs duties.
Electronic items or appliances are considered taxable calculating additional taxes, please see the Electronic/Appliance Price Schedule as your guide.
|Special Handling Item||Handling Fees|
|TV 20″ or Below||USD 46|
|TV 24″ to 27″||USD 46|
|TV 28″ to 32″||USD 69|
|TV 30″ to 46″||USD 140|
|20″ to 21″||USD 140|
|30″ to 46″||USD 315|
|Fax Machine||USD 24|
|Stereo (Mini Comp)||USD 35|
|Computer CPU only w/Mouse/Keyboard||USD 24|
|Home Theater||USD 36|
|LCD Monitor||USD 46|
|2 Way Radio||USD 15|
|Game Consoles (SONY/XBOX/Nintendo)||USD 32|
|Handhelds (PSP/Nintendo DS)||USD 17|
|Digital SLR Camera||USD 32|
|* Other items not listed above which will be considered as electronic items will be charged 40%-200% tax based on the invoice price.|
|* Electronic items or appliances are shipped at owner’s risk. Shipper does not assume liability for damages incurred in shipping these items.|
Commercial Quantity – We cannot ship any items of the same kind in commercial quantities. Quantity of the same kind greater than 12 is considered commercial quantity. Considered Smuggling kapag more than 12 pcs
After the 9-11 event and the passing of Patriot Act, balikbayan boxes have been subjected to rigorous inspections by US Homeland Security Out-Bound Exam Team that caused massive delays that goes up to three weeks at US Customs inspection facility alone, plus the sailing time that was also extended from 21 days to 30 plus days. The inspections also resulted in opened packaging and complaints of mishandling. The Philippine Bureau of Customs also conducts 100% inspections that added to the burden of delayed shipments.
( My Bad Experience Customs and Air port after they open our package some item are missing like 4 pair Nike Shoes , Chocolates and Perfumes . We just notice the lost item when we got home the other box have no longer secured with blue tape and rope )
In 2014, this delays was further aggravated by the decision of the City of Manila to impose truck ban along the pier route causing backlogs in releasing and transporting not only balikbayan boxes but all cargoes, domestic and international. Most of the balikbayan box companies, which are based in Paranaque City close to the airport, are heavily affected by this as the truck ban starts from Port area to Roxas Blvd.
180 days of free storage from the time you purchased your first box item
There’s a storage fee of $5 per month after the 180th days
DTI UPDATE: Who receive balikbayan boxes from abroad: the Bureau of Customs (BOC) will no longer collect the import processing fee of P250 for packages arriving in the country’s ports.
BOC has waived the import processing fee for packages sent by sea freight through Customs Administrative Order (CAO) No. 08-2014 which took effect last 15 November.
“No amount shall be collected as import processing fee on any importation filed through informal entry,” Commissioner John P. Sevilla said in the recent order.
“The BOC shall cease to collect the import processing fee,” he added.
In the same order, he reduced the “amount of Documentary Stamp Tax for Informal Entry” from P265 to P15. He said that an amount of P15 shall be collected from each importation filed through the informal entry.
Around 5.5M balikbayan boxes are shipped to the country every year and the bulk enters the ports from September until yearend.
More than half of those packages enter the Manila International Container Port (MICP), while the rest arrive at the Port of Manila, Cebu, Davao and Subic.
The BOC has launched an online tracking system that will enable the recipients to check the status of their packages from abroad.
With the tracker, Sevilla said, “The public will not be given the run-around by people responsible for delivering their balikbayan boxes.”
Sevilla issued the CAO, approved by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, in pursuant to Section 608 and Sections 3301 and 3304 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP), in relation to Section 36 of the Administrative Code of 1987.