A Balikbayan box is an important part of the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) lifestyle. It is a cargo box package sent from abroad to the Philippines, typically by an OFW and their family and loved ones back in the country. It contains items for everyday use as well as special treats and gifts for the recipient. These boxes can range from small to large and are filled with both necessities and luxury items. The delivery of these boxes can list from 45 to 90 days, depending on the destination province of the recipient.
Since Filipinos are naturally generous and like to share what we have with our family and friends, we are likely to pack nearly everything we can find that will fit. The best way to express your love and care to family and friends back home is by sending a balikbayan box to the Philippines.
OFWs and migrant workers rush to fill balikbayan boxes during the holiday season so that their families will receive them in the midst of Christmas. However, what exactly is a balikbayan box? Who can send them, how should they be packed, and what can and cannot be placed inside these cardboard boxes?
Read on for answers of what a balikbayan is and the new shipping laws. Along with a list of cargo shipping companies to entrust your packages to, we also included instructions on how to send a balikbayan box to the Philippines.
What is a Balikbayan Box?
The Bureau of Customs defines a balikbayan box as “packages of personal belongings and/or ‘pasalubongs’ sent by Filipinos residing or working abroad to their families or relatives in the Philippines.” A balikbayan box is a large, quick-to-assemble cardboard box filled with various items for loved ones back in the Philippines. Either by air or by sea, these balikbayan boxes are delivered to the Philippines.
These packages serve as a bridge between you and the loved ones you left behind in the Philippines. Usually, OFWs send money, household items like toothpaste, tea bags, magazines, toiletries, candy, toys, used clothing, and gifts that are specifically requested. One balikbayan box is allowed to be sent every six months by a Filipino living overseas. Sending a balikbayan box, however, comes with some restrictions and guidelines. Due to the difficulty of shipping these boxes, it is essential to comply with shipping laws in order to avoid delays at customs.
When a large number of Filipino workers began migrating to the United States in the 1980s, this culture began to develop. Delivering balikbayan boxes was first done by two Filipino-owned freight forwarders, Ren International and Port Jersey Shipping International.
Who can send balikbayan boxes?
Everybody, including partnerships, sole proprietorships, and corporations, is allowed to send a balikbayan box to the Philippines. However, Qualified Filipinos While Abroad (QFWA) only have access to tax and duty-free benefits, which include:
- Resident Filipinos
- Non-resident Filipinos
- Overseas Filipino workers
This includes dual-citizen Filipinos who reside overseas as well as those on student or temporary worker visas.
Documents needed to send a Balikbayan Box
OFWs and migrant workers should make sure that their balikbayan boxes comply with the following requirements before sending them to the Philippines:
- Balikbayan BOC Information Sheet
- Receipt or invoice of valuable goods
- Philippine Passport (either an original copy or a photocopy with the data page)
- Present proof of dual citizenship and a copy of a foreign passport with personal information, a photo, and a signature for dual citizens who do not have a Philippine passport.
These documents must be given to the consolidator overseas, who is in charge of sending them to the Bureau of Customs via the deconsolidation / freight forwarder in the Philippines.
Your preferred cargo shipping company may have a Balikbayan Information Sheet from the Bureau of Customs (BOC). You will need three (3) copies of the Balikbayan BOC Information Sheet, which can be downloaded from https://customs.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/cmo-18-2018-Information-Sheet.pdf. The first copy should be attached to your package, the second copy should go to the shipping company, and the third copy should be kept by you.
Reasons Why Filipinos Love Balikbayan Box
Balikbayan boxes serve a practical purpose, but they have also come to represent the hard work of Filipino migrants who want to help their families and friends in the Philippines. Filipinos are renowned for being kind, loving, and giving. The balikbayan boxes or pasalubong tie the bond between OFWs and their loved ones.
Balikbayan Box Price
Depending on the country and store you choose, the balikbayan box price may change. You can purchase balikbayan boxes online like Amazon for the fastest and easiest transaction.
Balikbayan Box Size Measurement
Balikbayan Boxes have 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||6 cubic feet||24 x 18 x 24 inches|
|Compact||2.38 cubic feet||35 x 55 x 35 cm|
|Premium||4.5 cubic feet||37 x 55 x 63 cm|
|Cube||7 cubic feet||55 x 60 x 60 cm|
|Super Value||8.9 cubic feet||55 x 73 x 63 cm|
How to Pack and Send a Balikbayan Box?
Follow these steps to quickly know how to pack and send a balikbayan box. To prevent a delay in your balikbayan box reaching your families, keep in mind the restricted items inside.
Step 1: Gather and arrange the items you want to ship in accordance with their variations.
Step 2: List every item on the Balikbayan Box information sheet.
Step 3: Pick a credible shipping company that also fits your budget. You can also ask them for packing tips.
Step 4: Select the box you will use to pack and ship your goods to the Philippines. The most common sizes are Medium to Extra Large. If you do not want to pay extra fees, you can have as many as you like as long as they don’t total more than Php 150,000 per year.
Step 5: Make your box’s bottom side more sturdy by adding padding or tape underneath.
Step 6: Arrange your “pasalubong” inside the box. Placing liquids on plastic bags will help keep other materials dry. You could also wrap fragile items in bubble wrap. You could try to weigh it and move other items if it turns out to be too heavy and the other boxes are too light.
Step 7: Before you close the box, place the list of contents inside.
Step 8: Tape the box. Include both your shipper’s information and your full contact information on the label. Do not forget to include the recipient’s full name, address, and phone number as well.
Step 9: Get in touch with the shipping company you have selected. If the price is based on the weight, they might pick up your box and provide you with an estimate.
Step 10: Track your shipment. Most agencies will allow you to view the location of your balikbayan boxes.
Once your balikbayan box arrived, call your loved ones. A video call is always ideal because you can see their joyful expressions as they open the boxes.
List of Cargo Companies Providing Balikbayan Box Service
You should send your balikbayan box to the DTI – accredited cargo shipping company. The DTI-accredited cargo shipping companies are listed below:
- 12:24 Cargo Express Corporation
- Afreight Phils Incorporated
- Al Mohr Customs Brokers Incorporated
- Associated Freight Consolidators Incorporated
- Atlas Brokers & Express Padala Incorporated
- BICM Genesis Freight International Incorporated
- Brand Expert Freight Forwarder Corporation
- Cargoflex Haulers Corporation
- Chenvel Svcs Incorporated
- Coriner Global Express Logistics and Trading Corporation
- CT Movers and Forwarding Services Corporation
- Ernst International Logistics Corporation
- E-pad Freight Forwarder
- Fil Asia Cargo Express Services Corporation
- Fil Cargo Express
- Focus International Brokerage Corporation
- Forex Cargo
- Genesis Logistics Global Svcs Incorporated
- Globelink International Pty Limited
- I-Genex Cargo Forwarder Incorporated
- I-Merex Group of Companies Incorporated
- Jeezan Int’l Cargo and Courier Services
- Jexsan Logistics Philippines Incorporated
- Jiamin Cargo Express Incorporated
- Jolly-B Box Express Line Incorporated
- JRC Logistics Phils Int’l Incorporated
- KC Express Door Delivery Services Incorporated
- Kingspoint Express & Logistics
- LBC Express Incorporated
- LCSN Express Movers Incorporated
- Makati Express Cargo Incorporated
- MMD Logistics Incorporated
- Ocean Star Freight Express
- Pehanshin Shipping Philippines Incorporated
- Phil-Global Cargo Movers Incorporated
- Pooten Forwarding
- Rensworld Freight Logistics Corporation
- Roxas Cargo Express
- Royal Cargo Incorporated
- RV Door-to-Door Delivery Services
- Skyfreight Forwarders Incorporated
- Skyland Global Logistics Incorporated
- Speedstream Transport
- Total Line Logistics Incorporated
- Transtech Global Phils Incorporated
- Trico International Forwarding Phils Incorporated
- Umac Express Cargo
- Unifreight Cargo System Incorporated
- Willxpress Incorporated
- XYZ Global Express Corporation
Check the following link to find the nearest DTI – accredited cargo shipping company:
Common Items Packed inside a Balikbayan Box
The following are the items that OFWs most commonly included in a balikbayan box:
- Board games
- Cards with notes
- Canned goods
- Small gadget
- Stuffed toys
- Vitamins and supplements
Prohibited Items in a Balikbayan Box
According to the Bureau of Customs (BOC), you must be a Qualified Filipino and the total value of the items you send throughout the year must be less than Php 150,000 for your balikbayan box to be tax or duty-free. Excise tax, VAT, and duty are all applied to any excess.
Only items in quantities lower than commercially available are permitted for shipment. You cannot sell any of the items you include in the balikbayan box; they must be used solely for your family’s personal use.
Additionally, it is helpful to be aware that some items might be restricted or prohibited before you pack your balikbayan box. The BOC has the right to seize any packages sent if these are discovered.
The following are things that the BOC forbids:
- Alcoholic drinks
- Any item that represents an obscene or immoral character
- Any fluids and other perishable food items
- Bulk used clothes of commercial quantity (ukay-ukay in bales)
- Ceramic tableware
- Cultural artifacts and pottery
- Drug paraphernalia (unless prescribed for medical conditions)
- Items that promote or administer unlawful abortion
- Items or products containing dog or cat fur
- Items with military or proliferation applications or defense articles
- Infringement of goods as defined by the Intellectual Property Code
- Lottery and sweepstakes tickets (unless lists of drawings and advertisements)
- Manufactured goods that are in whole or part of gold, silver or other precious metals, wherein the actual fineness of the quality is not indicated
- Plants, seeds, and soil
- Pornographic materials or items
- Raw meat, cheese, fruits, and vegetables (unless canned)
- Whole or parts of any automobile / motorcycle
- Whole or parts of any firearms or explosives
To avoid any unforeseen events, please do not send these items. These items have been sent in a few instances, but we don’t want to take that risk and have the items confiscated.
Video: Balikbayan Box from Canada to the Philippines
Check out the video below to see how an OFW YouTuber packed, filled, and shipped his balikbayan box to the Philippines using a Canadian cargo company.
Common items included in a balikbayan box are clothes, shoes, food items, appliances, and other electronics. It is also common for Filipinos to include special tokens of affection such as knick-knacks, chocolates, and other gifts in their balikbayan boxes.
The balikbayan box is a symbol of the OFW’s hard work and sacrifices abroad, as well as a meaningful way for them to stay connected with their families back home.
Receiving a balikbayan box from an overseas relative or loved one can be a very special moment for many Filipinos in the Philippines, especially since it is a reminder of their loved one’s hard work and dedication. It can also be a source of joy for both the sender and the recipient as it serves to bridge the physical gap between them.
Frequently Asked Questions =
If you have any further questions regarding “What is Balikbayan box? How to Pack and Send Balikbayan Boxes to the Philippines?” see the list of frequently asked questions and answers below.
1. How to Find a Balikbayan Box Service near Me?
Check the link and select the host country where you are currently located to find a balikbayan box service nearer to you here – https://www.dti.gov.ph/konsyumer/accredited-seafreight-forwarders/
2. What is the cheapest balikbayan box?
The balikbayan price may vary depends on its size, country, and store your buying. However, the cheapest balikbayan box is the minibox, that is 12 x 12 x 12 inches.
3. How to track a balikbayan box?
The majority of cargo shipping businesses provide tracking services so you can keep a closer eye on your shipment as it travels. For more information on how to track your balikbayan box, communicate with your chosen company. Some shipping companies, like LBC Express, will send you an email with a shipping track order so you could immediately find out where your balikbayan box was.
As for tracking your balikbayan box in BOC, you can use the link below and enter your tracking number here – https://parceltracking.customs.gov.ph/kiosk.php
4. How many Days does a balikbayan box arrive to recipient?
That depends. Depending on the shipping company, the season, and the service you choose, the shipping time will change. For example, it will take seven to ten days for air freight to arrive and forty to sixty days for sea freight sent by LBC Express. However, depending on the season, the balikbayan box may generally arrive in eight to twelve weeks.
5. Does Balikbayan Box go through Bureau of Customs in the Philippines?
Yes, the BOC will check the balikbayan box once the balikbayan has arrived in the Philippines, as required by law.
6. How many times a year am I allowed to ship?
Only three shipments are permitted per calendar year. No matter how many boxes you ship, the total cost cannot exceed Php 150,000.00.
7. Can I send as many boxes as I want?
Yes, unless you want to use the balikbayan box privilege.
8. What is the Balikbayan box privilege?
A Filipino citizen who meets the requirements may send balikbayan boxes tax- and duty-free to family and friends.
9. When must I pay my taxes?
The excess of those shall be subject to duty, VAT, and excise TAX if there are more than 2 liters of wine, 2 reams of cigarettes, or 50 cigars.
10. Can I just hide the prohibited items?
No, if customs learns of this, it could result in a delay, non-delivery, or a case against you. The list is combined with the items inside.
11. What causes delay or failure to deliver?
There may be a delay if there are natural disasters. Doube-check what you are sending again in case there are any prohibited or restricted items.
12. Should I insure my cargo?
Insurance is suggested. Since we have no idea what will occur during delivery, it is better to be safe than sorry.
13. Is it possible to put money in the Balikbayan box?
Money cannot be sent via a balikbayan box. It is recommended to send money through a money transfer company or app.
The balikbayan box is a brilliant way to send gifts to family members back home. If you meet the requirements, you can take advantage of the balikbayan box privilege and please your family or loved ones. Of course, the balikbayan cargo box is not a requirement. You have the option to send one whenever it suits you.
Balikbayan boxes satisfy our loved ones’ curiosity and desire to try new things while also making them happy. Let us not forget that each of these boxes contains the unwavering love you have for each recipient, regardless of the material items they may contain.
Keep in mind the balikbayan box’s prohibited and restricted items as well to avoid any delays or issues with sending items to your family.