Good news for people who love to send balikbayan boxes

They're tax-free starting Christmas Day!


( Every Christmas season, Filipinos who work abroad send a huge balikbayan box of gifts to their relatives and friends at home. These packages wrapped generously with duct tape often contain canned goods, toothpaste, soaps, chocolates, vitamins, and candies that may be hard to find in the Philippines. It has become an important part of the realities of Overseas Filipino Workers and a symbol of our culture's expression of gift-giving.


This year, Filipinos are given a Christmas treat as the Bureau of Customs released a statement on December 10 implementing a tax free shipment by Qualified Filipinos While Abroad to families and relatives in the Philippines. This is under the Customs Administrative Order 05-2016 signed by the Bureau of Customs and Department of Finance.


Customs Commissioner Nicanor E. Faeldon, in a statement, said, “We value the importance of each balikbayan box. They symbolize the hardship of our overseas Filipino workers, and the love of Filipinos abroad for their families here in the country.”



Who are the Qualified Filipinos While Abroad (QFWA)? The Customs and Modernization and Tariff Act specifies them as the following:


  • holders of valid passports issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and certified by the Department of Labor and Employment or Philippine Overseas Employment Administration for overseas employment purposes regardless of profession;
  • non-resident Filipinos who have established permanent residency abroad but retained their Filipino citizenship; and
  • resident Filipino citizens who temporarily stay abroad (may include holders of student visa, investors' visa, tourist visa, and similar visas which allow them to establish temporary stay abroad).


Like most memorandums, the Customs Administrative Order (CAO) will be implemented only 15 days after publication (December 10), making Christmas Day its date of effectivity. It also points out that "only QFWAs who send their boxes after this CAO is in effect and who have duly accomplished the Information Sheet and complied with the requirements stated in the CAO can avail of this privilege."

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