How Much Imported Products Can Balikbayans Bring Home to the Philippines?

If there’s one thing that Pinoys look forward to during the holidays, that’s their relatives from abroad taking some time away from work to come home and spend Christmas with the rest of the fambam here in sunny Philippines. A happy side-product of that is pasalubongs fresh from foreign soil. From clothes, to shoes, to makeup and toiletries, these pasalubongs are part and parcel of the balikbayan experience. Recently though, the FDA, DOH, and Customs have been working together to implement tighter restrictions on the type and quantity of products getting into the country. The list of products being regulated includes cosmetics, drugs, alcohol, and toys. Eep! This is definitely a cause for concern for women who love to make pabili makeup products from family and friends from abroad.

I actually only found out about this earlier today while I was planning to have a friend buy some cosmetics for me. I asked around to make sure he wont be violating any laws when he enters the country bringing home a 16-pc Huda Beauty Liquid Lipstick Collection. To my horror, I found that he won’t be allowed to bring home more than 10 pieces of lipstick, unless we make plans to make it less obvious. Now I don’t want to be on the wrong side of the law, so I’d rather follow the rules than get my friend penalized for doing me a favor.

Here’s what else I found out about the regulations on imported products:

1. Balikbayans can still bring home or send imported products into the Philippines without the need for FDA clearance, provided that the products are:

a. For personal use;
b. In quantities not exceeding the limits shown below; and
c. Brought into the Philippines in any of the following ways:
– In passenger baggage, whether accompanied or unaccompanied;
– In balikbayan boxes; or
– In parcels sent through mail or delivery services.

2.  The regulated products and their allowable quantity are as follows:

So yeah, only up to ten lipsticks :(

3. Any quantity of the covered products beyond the specified amount without FDA clearance will be seized by the customs in favor of the government. I’m not exactly sure what will happen to the products once seized. I think you’ll need to work out the clearance with FDA before you can get back your products.

4. Fresh or frozen unprocessed foods, including fresh fruits, frozen meat, fresh fish, even in quantities for personal use, may not be brought into, or sent to, the Philippines without prior clearance. Clearance from the relevant agency of the Department of Agriculture will be required to bring in these items.

5. Bringing in household urban pesticides will require prior clearance from the FDA.

Here’s the link to the full circular.

Despite the circular, there’s still really nothing to sweat about! If your friends or family are just bringing in items for personal use (and within the prescribed quantity), you shouldn’t have any trouble with Customs. Shoes, clothes, and chocolates, among many other pasalubong favorites, are also not indicated in the circular.

Have something to share about bringing in imported goods to the Philippines? Sound off in the comments section below!-HANA

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