The Bureau of Customs (BOC) released a memorandum order stating that starting August, only the family or relatives of the sender are authorized to receive their balikbayan boxes. Additionally, the package should include a list of contents and receipts for recently purchased items.
According to Door-to-Door Consolidators Association of the Philippines (DDCAP), an estimate of five million packages from OFWs are sent to their families in the Philippines every year; to which these packages include durable and food items. With this memorandum, sending such balikbayan boxes just got more tedious.
What Ought to Done Before Sending Balikbayan Boxes?
The following steps are the standard procedures before sending off one’s packages:
- Download and fill out information sheets (3 copies) that ask details about contents and recipient. Consolidators may also provide information sheets as well.
- Second hand items’ quantity and approximate value must be provided. For newly purchased items, receipts must be included.
- Provide a copy of the information sheet and passport to the consolidator and the deconsolidator.
- With the supervision of BOC personnel, the boxes undergo X-ray examinations. This is to verify the list of contents by the OFWs.
- The shipment will be assessed and be shipped accordingly. However, in a situation where discrepancies exist with the list and the contents, the shipment will be separated and will be released once the sender complies with the existing rules.
How Much will Sending a Balikbayan Box Cost?
The Customs Modernization and Tariff Act or CMTA previously increased the ceiling of tax-free items sent via balikbayan boxes; it was raised from P10,000 to P150,000 while the de minimis value of goods increased from P10 to P10,000.
OFWs can send up to three tax-free balikbayan boxes in one year, provided that the contents of every shipment only amounts to P 150,000 each. Additionally a processing fee of P 250 will be charged for each box regardless of the value.
Compliance over Convenience
There were negative reactions from OFWs regarding the new memorandum order. Take the case of Jaime Segure who says that his son ships 3 boxes per year and the latter will have a hard time listing down all the items and their prices. On another note, Arman Hernando, spokesperson of Migrante International, expressed his dismay saying that the element of surprise the box will bring to the recipients will be gone.
Regardless of the flak, the chief of Manila International Container Port, Athena Dans explained that this is already the standard procedure in other countries. Furthermore, Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon justified that this should be enforced as per the law. Faeldon also added that no “manual checking” will be done unless drugs or guns are found during the x-ray procedure.
Even with pure intentions in mind, the new measure will be nothing short of a hassle for OFWs, with a lengthier and riskier process that is to be upheld. This will also expose whatever expensive items that the sender has put inside the box and will consequently pique the interest of those who will be handling the boxes. Looking on the bright side however, it can be assured that the balikbayan box will be received by the intended recipients.
Kabayan what are your thoughts on the new measure? Let us know your opinion by writing it on the comment section.