A Balikbayan box is a package that a Filipino eagerly awaits from family members, relatives or friends living overseas. The box contains anything from canned goods to running shoes. Any request from a Filipino recipient that can fit inside a Balikbayan box, as long as it is within the customs guidelines, can be sent this way. If you happen to be a Filipino working overseas or a non-Filipino with friends in the Philippines you can send your loved ones a Balikbayan box.
Buy a Balikbayan box. These come in different commonly used sizes: regular size is 23-by-17-by-20 inches, medium is 24-by-18-by-24 inches and jumbo is 30-by-20-by-20 inches. Make sure to choose the size that will fit everything that you want to send.
Pack the goods carefully. If you are sending fragile items, make sure to add bubble wrap or other packing material. To save space you can wrap breakable items with tee shirts or towels you are sending. When sending goods to multiple recipients in the same box, pack them in small plastic bags and label each with the names of the recipient to avoid confusion.
Seal and label the box. Seal the box carefully with packing tape. Clearly write the recipient's address on all sides of the Balikbayan box using a permanent marker.
Choose a mode of transportation. If you are sending the box by sea there is no limit to the weight, but if you wish to send it by air you will have to pay the standard fee plus any charges for excess weight. The most common method is by sea, since it is cheaper and there are no weight limitations. Air freight is recommended only if the items are urgently needed. It takes up to 90 days for a shipment by sea to arrive at the destination, whereas by air you can send it on the next available flight and your recipient can have it when the plane arrives, which is in about a day.
Select a carrier. Make sure to check potential freight forwarders not only for their prices but for their reliability. Filipinos living overseas are a close-knit community; they certainly share with each other the most dependable and reliable services available based on their personal experiences. Check with the Better Business Bureau for information about the cargo company your are considering. Shop around to get the best deals; some companies offer services and perks to compete for your business For example, there are freight forwarders that will pick up your box wherever you live, provide free Balikbayan boxes for future use, take pictures of your family showing they received the package or give you a discount if you are a regular customer after sending a certain number of boxes.
Fill out the bill of lading. You need to fill out one for each addressee, not for each box -- if you have one recipient but two boxes, you only need one bill of lading. A bill of lading is a document issued by a carrier acknowledging that the goods that have been specified have been received by the carrier and will be delivered to its intended recipient (consignee) and includes the list of items that are inside the box, the information of the intended recipient (name, address and phone number).
Notify your recipient to let him know that you have sent the box and when he should expect his package to arrive. Make sure that the recipient can provide a couple of valid forms of identification, and remind him to let you know once the Balikbayan box has been received or if there are problems or delays so you can follow up with the carrier.
Items you will need
Freight or cargo forwarder
Bill of lading
Check with the carrier as to what is allowed to be sent on a Balikbayan box before you even shop for the items. The Philippine Customs may confiscate items that should not be shipped, such as contraband. If you plan to send a Balikbayan box for the holidays, make sure to send it three months ahead of time to ensure your gifts are received on time.
Avoid packing perishables, like fruits, chocolate or meat products as they will spoil. Do not send money or expensive jewelry in a Balikbayan box.
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