7 Tips for Sending a Balikbayan Box from the USA

Balikbayan Box

Balikbayan Box

We all have loved ones back home in the Philippines who we’d love to shower gifts – be it during Christmas time or anytime we manage to stock different items. However, with current issues like port congestion in both Southern California and Manila, what can be done to avoid delays in balikbayan box arrivals? In addition, what other tips can be offered for those who want to send a balikbayan box, especially first timers?

Tip #1: Avoid sending boxes during the –ber months

While there have been little to no problems sending boxes in months ending in -ber in the past, you cannot afford to have issues like port congestion spoiling the delivery of your gifts to loved ones in the Philippines. That said, make sure to send your box/es at the earliest possible time. It may be a hard task to do, but in case you don’t want any delays, preparing items to send a whole lot earlier helps a lot.

Tip #2: Make sure the freight forwarder is accredited with the Philippine Shippers’ Bureau

Using a forwarder that is accredited is for your peace of mind. How many times have we heard stories of boxes arriving months after the promised date? How many times have you heard complaints about boxes with missing contents? To avoid such issues, make sure to use an accredited forwarder.

For an updated list of freight forwarders, you can check this page. You can also ask your loved ones back home to use the Balikbayan Box Tracker – or you can use it yourself as well – to check on the status of your box. Just make sure you know the name of the foreign or local forwarder and the Bill of Landing (BL) number of the shipment box.

Tip #3: List down the contents of your balikbayan box and give your family back home a copy

 This is just to make sure that your box wasn’t opened and none of its contents were removed. It may be a tedious process but the last thing you want is for for one member of your family have no present at all.

Tip #4: Be aware of what you shouldn’t send through balikbayan boxes

 The Department of Trade and Industry has listed a number of items that you shouldn’t pack into your box. These include:

  • currencies, checks, money orders and traveler’s checks
  • jewelries
  • firearms, ammunition and explosives
  • prohibited drugs and other substances
  • pornographic materials, gambling cards and toy guns
  • pirated products – DVDs, CDs, tapes, etc
  • items of commercial quantity


Tip #5: Be very careful about sending food

Given the recent issue of port congestion, you have to rethink how you send canned goods or any food item to your family in the Philippines. For instance, you have to buy goods that have an expiry date far into the future. You don’t want to send over food that is close to being spoiled, right?

Tip #6: Package breakable items properly

Even though you’re free to toss in whatever item you want into a balikbayan box, you still need to make sure that fragile items are protected. It doesn’t matter if you protect them with bubble wrap or clothing, what matters is that you do the best you can to prevent them from breaking.

Tip #7: Seal your box really well

Be generous with how you use tape. The last thing you want is for items inside your box to suffer after just one minor bump. So rather than just seal the opening, make sure to include the sides as well for added protection.

Other uses of balikbayan boxes

Also keep in mind that balikbayan boxes aren’t just for shipping gifts to loved ones back home. They can be an alternate way to send your clothes and other items when you yourself want to come home. This way, you won’t have to lug around so many bags for your trip to visit the Philippines. You can send what you need in advance and they’ll be patiently waiting for you when you arrive.

Keep these tips in mind when sending over balikbayan boxes so you don’t stress out over their delivery and their contents.



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