How to Send Balikbayan Boxes to the Philippines

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor June 13th, 2020 Posted in Philippines Travel Blog 5 Comments

One distinguishing feature of a Filipino is buying things from clothes to toiletries, decorations, chocolates, cosmetics, and many more, placing it in a large box and sending it back home in the Philippines. That’s what we call a Balikbayan Box.

How to Send Balikbayan Boxes to the Philippines
Photo by Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition

Filipinos have a giving nature, and we like to share what we have to our family and friends, so we pack almost everything we can find and what fits. Sending a balikbayan box to the Philippines is the best way to send your love and care back home.

What is a Balikbayan Box?

A balikbayan box is a huge parcel containing everything from designer clothing, huge detergents, imported food, perfume, toys, and other non-perishable items. These balikbayan boxes are sent to the Philippines either through air or sea. Metaphorically speaking, these boxes act as a bridge between you and the loved ones you left behind in the country.

How to Send Balikbayan Boxes to the Philippines
People photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

This practice of shipping balikbayan boxes to the Philippines began in the 1970s and continues to be a heavily practiced tradition of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) today. If you’re an OFW and would want to send a parcel back home, here’s everything you need to know about sending balikbayan boxes to the Philippines.

A balikbayan box means “a box that returns to its home country.” This box contains various goods from overseas to be shipped to the Philippines. Shipping usually takes three months or more.

Extra: If you want to send packages from the Philippines to USA then you can read my other article, here.

What are the sizes of Balikbayan Boxes?

Balikbayan Boxes to the Philippines come in different shapes and sizes. These are:

Minibox 1 cubic foot 12 x 12 x 12 inches
Medium  3 cubic feet 18 x 18 x 16 inches
Large  4.5 cubic feet. 18 x 18 x 24 inches
Extra large 24 x 18 x 24 inches
Jumbo Sized 6 cubic feet 24 x 18 x 24 inches
Compact  35 x 55 x 35 cm
Premium  37 x 55 x 63 cm
Cube  55 x 60 x 60 cm
Super Value 55 x 73 x 63 cm

However, the most common sizes used are Medium to Extra Large, why? Ang laki ng gastos ng pagpadala, so why not yung malaki nalang para madami din yung nasa loob?

What are allowed inside the Balikbayan Boxes?

As per Customs, you can send items of personal or household items. It also has to be less than commercial quantities; for example, less than 20 items of consumables (e.g. SPAM) and less than 5 items of non-consumable (e.g. Lotion). Ang mga items na ito hindi dapat tinitinda, ito ay para sa pamilya or friends mo.

You can send as many balikbayan boxes to the Philippines. If you want it to be tax or duty – it’s total value must be less than Php 150,000 in a year.

If there are more than 2 liters of wine, 2 reams of cigarettes, or 50 cigars, the excess of those shall be subject to duty, VAT, and excise TAX.

What packages are not allowed in the Balikbayan Boxes?

As per any package shipped abroad, some things aren’t allowed on board. To ensure your balikbayan box to the Philippines arrives without question. 

Here are the prohibited items as per Customs:

  • Written or printed goods in any form advocating against or inciting people to be against the Philippine government (e.g. treason or rebellion) or forcible resistance on any law of the Philippines or written or printed goods containing threat to take life or inflict harm upon a person in the Philippines
  • Any item that promotes or causes unlawful abortion
  • Items that are obscene or immoral
  • Manufactured goods (in part or whole) of precious metals or alloys (e.g. silver, fold), that doesn’t indicate the actual fineness of quality
  • Any adulterated or misbranded foods or drugs for human consumption
  • Infringing goods under Intellectual Property Code (e.g. fake items)
  • All other goods or parts which are prohibited by law

Here are the restricted items as per Customs:

  • Firearms or weapons of war or parts of it (e.g. guns, dynamites, gun powder, explosives)
  • Weapons of mass destruction according to RA 10697 or Strategic Trade Management Act
  • Devices used in gambling or those dependent of chance and parts of it (e.g. loaded dice)
  • Lottery and sweepstakes tickets, except their advertisements and lists of drawings
  • Synthetic drugs or narcotics (Marijuana, opium, etc.) or any compound that is used in its preparation except if it’s authorized by Dangerous Drugs Board
  • Opium pipes or parts of it (whatever material)
  • Toxic and hazardous goods under RA 6969
  • Any goods whose importation is restricted

Make it a habit to check the Philippine government website for any changes on the list of banned and prohibited items.

Best Companies when sending Balikbayan Boxes to the Philippines:

United States of America

  • Johnny Air Cargo
    69-04 Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside, NY 11377
    627E Summit Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07306
    153 South Vermont, Los Angeles, CA 90004
    55 Saint Francis Square, Daly City, CA 94015
  • Alas Cargo
    228 Star of India Lane, Carson, CA, 90746
  • International Package Shipping
    163 Doty Circle, West Springfield, MA 01089
    1922 E. Gladwick St., Carson CA 90220
    1955 W Brandon Blvd, Brandon FL 33511
  • Manila Forwarder
    3964 Eagle Rock Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90065.

Europe

  • Eurosia Balikbayan Box – 46446 Emmerich on the Rhine
  • Anglo Pacific
    Anglo House, Drury Way, London, NW10 0HZ
    Unit 5, 7 The Furrows, Trafford Park, Manchester, M32 0SZ
    Hornal Road, Bothwell Park Industrial Estate, Uddingston, Glasgow, G71 7EE

Middle East

  • Makati Express Cargo
    A few addresses:
    Shop No. 10 Surror Bldg. Electra Road, Abu Dhabi, UAE
    Shop No. 2 Al Kazim Bldg. Karama, Dubai, UAE
    King Abdul Azizi St., Balad Mall, Ground Floor, Balad, Jeddah, KSA
    With Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain Branches
  • LBC Express

What you need for your Balikbayan Box:

  • Shipping box
  • Items to be delivered
  • List of items
  • Balikbayan Box Information Sheet (3 copies per box – attached, to the consolidator, to the sender)
  • Packing Tape
  • Plastic Bags or bubble wrap
  • Markers
How to Send Balikbayan Boxes to the Philippines
House photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Step by Step Guide on How to send your Balikbayan Boxes to the Philippines

STEP 1: Collect the items you want to ship. List them in the Balikbayan Box information sheet.

STEP 2: Choose a shipping agency that is well-reviewed and if it fits your budget. You can also ask them for advice on packing.

STEP 3: Choose a box you will be using for the items to send to the Philippines; the most common ones are sized Medium to Extra Large. You can have as many as you want as long as it doesn’t exceed Php 150,000 for the year if you don’t want to pay additional fees.

STEP 4: Place liquids on plastic bags to avoid other materials getting wet. For fragile items, you may also use bubble wrap. Depende rin sa inyo if you want to tape items para madali lang ibigay (for example one bag for mommy, other bag is for daddy, etc.).

STEP 5: Put padding in your box or tape under it, so the bottom side is sturdier. Items should be placed perfectly (para pasok lahat or at least safe yung fragile items. Place the list of what is inside before you close the box. You may try to weigh it in case it’s too heavy and the other boxes are too light; you may transfer other items.

STEP 6: Tape the box. Label it with your complete information as well as your shipper’s info. Don’t also forget to put the full name, address, and contact of the person who you will be shipping it to.

STEP 7: Contact the shipping agency you have chosen. They may pick-up your box and give you a price if it depends on the weight.

STEP 8: Track your shipping. Most agencies can let you track where their balikbayan boxes currently are.

STEP 9: Get a thank you call from your loved ones. It has arrived! It’s always great if the video call you, and you will see their happy faces while they are opening the boxes!

Frequently Asked Questions on Balikbayan Boxes to the Philippines?

1. How many days does it take to receive balikbayan box?

It depends on the shipping agency you have chosen and the type you used (sea or air), however, the least is about a month from the US. However, it will take 2-3 days for customs handling and additional time if you are in provincial areas.

2. How many times can I ship in a year?

Many times a year, it depends on you as it is unlimited.

3. Can I send as many boxes as I like?

Yes, unless you want to avail balikbayan box privilege.

4. What is the balikbayan box privilege?

A qualified Filipino citizen can send Balikbayan boxes to Family or relatives tax and duty-free.

5. Who are qualified under balikbayan box privilege?

Resident, Non-resident Filipinos, and Overseas Filipino Workers.

6. What is the limit under balikbayan box privilege?

You can only send 3 times or 3 shipments in a calendar year.

Your total shipment, regardless of the number of boxes, should not exceed Php 150,000.00.

7. When do I need to pay taxes?

If there are more than 2 liters of wine, 2 reams of cigarettes, or 50 cigars, the excess of those shall be subject to duty, VAT, and excise TAX.

8. Can I just put prohibited items in secret?

No, this may cause delay, non-delivery, or a case on you if ever customs find out. The list and what is inside is consolidated.

9. What causes delays or non-delivery?

If there are natural calamities you could expect a delay. If there are prohibited or restricted items too, so double-check what you are going to send.

10. How can I know that the forwarder or broker I have hired is accredited?

You can check it on this website.

11. Are my Balikbayan Boxes opened by the customs?

Yes, it is as the law requires it.

12. Should I purchase insurance for my cargo?

Yes, insurance is advised. We don’t know what happens during the delivery, so it’s better safe than sorry.

How to Send Balikbayan Boxes to the Philippines
People photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

I hope this guide helps you with how to send balikbayan boxes to the Philippines. It’s quite exciting to be in another country and share our blessings with the ones we love back at home. Also, some items are quite expensive in the Philippines rather than abroad, too, so save up and watch out for sales and put them in your balikbayan boxes!

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5 thoughts on “How to Send Balikbayan Boxes to the Philippines

  1. I really liked your article, however it seems all the research I’ve done, not one website covers “pots and cooking utensils and kitchen items” i.e…Ninja food juicer, food processor, conduction skillet and conduction hot plate..stuff like that..also I’ve seen that you can’t ship knives, but what about kitchen knives? also.,,, tools, like a “Black and Decker” drill, or circular saw….is there a website that I can view that tells me what I can send, like this? Let me know…thanks in advance

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Written by Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor

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