boc-suspends-balikbayan-box
Image courtesy of InterAksyon

[box type=”default” size=”large”] Itemized list, other documents no longer needed [/box]

The Philippine Bureau of Customs (BoC) has suspended the enforcement of its Memorandum Order 04-2017 that has imposed burdensome document requirements on overseas Filipinos sending “balikbayan” boxes to their relatives in the Philippines, it was reported.

BoC suspended the requirements provided for in MO 04-2017 after the Door-to-Door Consolidators Association of the Philippines (DDCAP) filed a formal complaint with BoC. The controversial memorandum order took effect last Aug. 1.

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) welcomed a decision of the BoC to suspend the implementation of the burdensome rules and the duty- and tax-free privileges of consolidated balikbayan boxes, saying this is good news for the hundreds of thousands of overseas Filipinos.

“We would like to thank the Bureau of Customs and also the Department of Finance for being sensitive to the needs of our kababayans abroad and for listening to their appeals,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement.

Cayetano said Philippine embassies and consulates general in the United States and other balikbayan box-sending countries abroad have been receiving requests for assistance from members of Filipino communities who will be affected by the orders.

Last week, customs authorities announced the suspension until March 31, 2018 of Customs Administrative Order 05-2016 and Customs Memorandum Order 04-2017, in response to appeals by Filipinos abroad.

Also lauding the suspension of the burdensome rules are LBC, Atlas and other shippers of balikbayan boxes, which noted that the requirements would have adverse impacts on the flourishing freight-forwarding industry.

Some OFWs in Michigan also welcomed the suspension of the requirements, saying they had been reluctant to send balikbayan boxes to the Philippines because the requirements were not only burdensome but also confusing.     

Under MO 04-2017, only relatives of the sender can receive balikbayan boxes from overseas.

“If I want to send a balikbayan box to my friend in the Philippines, under the rules I could not do it,” said Rommel Panis, owner of RP Logistics. 

The same MO also requires the sender to submit an itemized list of its contents as well as receipts for items that are newly purchased. With the suspension, the list is no longer needed.

Under CMO 04-2017, the senders must also prove that they are Filipino by giving a xeroxed copy of their passports to the forwarding company, and they must be amenable to possible inspection of their boxes. As a result of the suspension, there is no need anymore to show proof of citizenship.

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