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Ever since the Bureau of Customs released the New BOC ID Rules On Tax-Free Balikbayan Box Privilege (CMO No. 18-2018), they have been regulated better to avoid unauthorized inspections of Balikbayan Boxes and bogus transactions with dubious freight forwarders. This was done in response to the OFW community who are affected by the government and military intervention in the war against drugs; as well as the history of delayed, stolen and missing Balikbayan Boxes.

Other than the breach of your privacy, who would want to be subject to criminal liability when you only intended to send pasalubong to your family? As much as we want to send them the most extravagant of goods, there are limits to what is allowed and their quantities. Think about the hazards and value of your items as factors of whether you should send them through your balikbayan box. There is a chance that you will also affect the delivery of other boxes because their shipping is consolidated with yours.

Based on a report, the number of OFWs have exceeded 2 million, imagine the amount of Balikbayan Boxes sent every year! Avoid abusing the tax-free privileges, like others have done in the past, and be responsible with your padala.

Bawal means bawal, here is an updated list of items that are prohibited, so don’t risk packing these:

1. While prescription drugs issued by licensed physicians in the corresponding volume and quantity are allowed, along with maintenance supplements, there are specific drug paraphernalia that are subject to the Republic Act No. 3720 or “Food and Drugs Act.” Violation of provisions include:

    • Misbranding articles of food; adulterations and/or misbranding drugs.
    • Habit forming drugs declared by the current Administration such as synthetic drugs or narcotics in the form of marijuana, opium, coca leaves and heroin.
    • Devices and apparatus for narcotics like opium pipes and parts thereof, of whatever material.
    • Toxic substances are also considered addictive chemicals like paint, thinner and varnish.
    • Compounds or manufactured salt and derivatives unless imported by the Government of the Philippines or authorized by the Dangerous Drugs Board, for medicinal purposes only. 
    • Excessive tobacco products (except for up to 2 reams of cigarettes and 50 sticks of cigar)
    • Alcohol and beverages containing alcohol (except for up to 2 liters of wine).

2. There’s no reason for you to have firearms and weapons of war in your Balikbayan Box, except when authorized. These include: 

    • Firearms, guns, gunpowder, ammunition and parts thereof.
    • Explosives like firecrackers, bombs, grenades and dynamite.
    • Flammable and poisonous gases or liquids.
    • Any defense articles or items with military or proliferation applications.
    • Any bladed, sharp and pointy objects like knives, swords, spears and darts.

3. To emphasize on hazards, public safety and interest are also protected by the law, written or printed articles containing negative advocacies or incitement of:

    • Treason, rebellion, insurrection, sedition, subversion against the Government of the Philippines or forcible resistance to any Philippine Law.
    • Threats to take the life of, or inflict bodily harm upon any person in the Philippines.

4. Merchandise that are considered unlawful, obscene or from embargoed countries, even trademarked and copyrighted articles, are prohibited from being sent through balikbayan boxes. These include:

    • Pirated media in discs (DVD or VCD) and tapes (cassettes or VHS).
    • Pornographic materials written, printed, negatives or cinematographic film, photographs, engravings, lithographs, objects, paintings, drawings or other representation.
    • Anything designed, intended or adapted for producing or promoting unlawful abortion
    • Ceramic tableware and cultural artifacts or pottery are also considered as prohibited merchandise.

5. Gambling devices and apparatus, unless authorized by the Philippine Government shouldn’t be sent in your balikbayan box. These include:

    • Roulette wheels, gambling outfits, loaded dice, marked cards, machines, or apparatus.
    • Mechanical devices used in gambling or the distribution of money or distribution is dependent on chance, including jackpot and pinball machines or the like.
    • Lottery and sweepstakes tickets, advertisements thereof, and lists of drawings therein.

6. Biological products (except for authorized and consumable canned goods) and other perishable goods are not permitted to be forwarded in a balikbayan box. These include:

    • Products of animal hunting or contact like animal hide or fur.
    • Dead or living pets, livestock, poultry, fish and wildlife.
    • All plants and seeds, as well as soil or fertilizers.
    • Uncanned and perishable food products like cheese, meat,  fruits and vegetables.

7. Precious metals or alloys in any form manufactured in whole or in part. These include:

    • Jewelry made of gold, silver or other precious metals or alloys.
    • Anything that does not indicate the actual fineness of quality of said metals or alloys. 
    • Trophies and medals made of the aforementioned materials.

8. Sending automobile or motorcycle, in parts or whole, may not be entirely illegal but this is prohibited for balikbayan box transactions.

9. Commercial quantity of clothing, brand new or used (usually for the purpose of ukay-ukay or thrift shopping), and rolls of textiles are prohibited.

For more information on what items you can and cannot pack in your balikbayan box, you should consult a government-certified freight forwarder who will assist you through the proper standard of procedure. In Metro Box Cargo, your balikbayan boxes are guaranteed to reach your loved ones all the way in the Philippines.