From chocolates, clothes, appliances, to gadgets--sending a box full of goodies and surprises is what every Filipino family anticipates to arrive in their doorstep, especially around Christmas.
If you've been an OFW, you'll know how good it feels when you've made your family back home extremely happy.
First and foremost…
Make a list of everything you need to buy for your relatives. You may feel the urge to spend on things and expect all of them to actually be used. With a checklist, you’ll know which item is for whom and, it also helps estimate your budget. Start off your list with the most expensive or specially-requested item down to the least expensive. Although it feels good to give even the littlest and most random things, see if some of these things can easily be purchased back home.
  1. Banned items
    Take note that there are things prohibited to put in your balikbayan box. These items include:
    • Alcoholic beverages
    • Animal fur
    • Firearms and ammunitions
    • Food products (unless canned)
    • Auto parts (chop chop)
    • Cash
    • Pornographic materials
    • Pirated media
    • Prohibited drugs
    • Used clothes/shoes or items in commercial quantity
  2. Choose the right box
    Balikbayan boxes vary in size depending on the amount of goods you’re shipping.
    • Minibox: 12 x 12 x 12 inches
    • Medium: 18 x 18 x 16 inches
    • Large: 18 x 18 x 16 inches
    • Extra large: 24 x 18 x 24 inches
    • Jumbo: 24 x 18 x 24 inches
If you’ve tried opening a balikbayan box before, you’ll know how hard it can be to unseal the box with the layers of tapes wrapped all over it. This is to ensure that all products inside are protected even in cases of mishandling.
  1. Keeping it secure
    For OFWs, it is very important to pack your box as securely as possible. This means using layers and layers of bubble wraps for fragile items and using highquality packaging tapes that will be wrapped from top to bottom.

    You can be strategic about packing your goods. Try to see which items can move around easily, be accidentally opened, or be broken. In this case, the best option is to fill up the box with products or by placing protective material on all sides.
  2. Label all sides
    Remember to label all sides of your box so that it wouldn’t be misplaced or be sent somewhere else. Include the name of the recipient and their address in readable writing—though typewritten labels are always better.
Now that you've prepared and bought everything you need, it's time to get to the logistics part.
  1. Accomplish two info sheets provided by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) of the Philippines.

    First form:
    • Name of sender
    • Address of sender abroad and in the Philippines
    • Citizenship
    • Contact number
    • Date of birth
    • E-mail address
    • Passport details
    Second form:
    • Contact number, postal code, and e-mail of the recipient
    • Sender's relationship
    • List of all goods in each box--including quantities and descriptions)
    • Number of boxes
    • Number availment within a calendar year
    • Total value of contents inside the balikbayan box/es
    Submit the info sheet with the following:  
    • Photocopy of any valid ID with citizenship, full name, birthplace, and birthplace
    • Copy of Philippine passport information paper
    • A processing fee of P250 payable to the Bureau of Customs
  2. Pick a trusted freight forwarder
    Some OFWs know their chosen freight forwarder from the get-go. But if you haven’t found one yet, a quick research will let you know which forwarders are reputable. Try to also read reviews about them if they’re provided.
Hurray! Now that your goods are all packed and ready to go, it’s time to call your balikbayan box company of choice to inform them to pick-up your balikbayan box. Don’t forget to ask them on the expected date of arrival to your recipient’s address.
  • Rules on sending balikbayan boxes to the Philippines may change once every few years, so it’s better to do your research beforehand to save you of any hassle.
  • When sending manufactured goods, always check the expiry date.
  • Inform your family that you have sent a balikbayan box so that they can expect it in a given timeframe.
  • If possible, send your balikbayan boxes before –ber months or Christmas. This is a very busy time for couriers, so your family may expect some delay in arrival.