How to Send Balikbayan Boxes

Written by sonia fernandez
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How to Send Balikbayan Boxes
Balikbayan boxes are used to send large amounts of goods to the Philippines. (box image by Olga Shelego from

If you've ever tried to send packages to the Philippines, chances are you are familiar with the Balikbayan box. "Balikbayan" means "return (to) country," and it could refer to returning people, as well as to the things they bring. Balikbayan boxes have become popular because Filipinos customarily send things back home to family when visiting, living or working overseas, and they also use the boxes for gifts they take when visiting home.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Balikbayan box
  • Things you want to send home
  • Packing material
  • Packing tape
  • Address of person(s) you want to send to
  • Yellow Pages or Internet

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  1. 1

    Get your Balikbayan box. While technically any sturdy cardboard box could do, a Balikbayan box will typically have the word "Balikbayan" on it. Balikbayan boxes are generally large, close to 20 inches in any dimension, meant for packing a large amount of goods. If you already have a carrier, they may provide the size of boxes you need.

  2. 2

    Pack your boxes. The trick here is to pack as much as you can without making the box too heavy or breaking the items you're sending—it's a long trip. Fortunately, you can use some of your items in place of packing material. Clothes or linens, for instance, are both popular items to send and will function well as packing material. You can wrap them around objects or place them between objects to cushion them from the impacts of shipping. Closing your box up with packing tape should be sufficient; don't use rope or twine.

    The rules of shipping apply here. Don't mail anything that's too fragile, perishable, explosive, hazardous, leaking, or may break open and ruin everything else in the box. No illicit drugs, live animals, plants or weapons. Don't send anything too valuable, for while carriers are generally honest and well meaning, shipping comes in several segments and the box will come in contact with many people along the way.

  3. 3

    Find a carrier. If you already have one in mind, you may skip this step. Make sure not to skimp on quality for price, or your items may never make it to their destination. While worldwide carriers such as FedEx and UPS are good companies, carriers that specialise in Balikbayan shipping will be more familiar with the terrain and how to get your box to where it is destined and could cost less. It may also make it easier for the recipients to track the package. You can look in the phone book or search the Internet.

  4. 4

    Mail your boxes. You may schedule a pickup or take them to the shipping counter. Either way you'll need to provide address information and perhaps fill out a shipping label or two.

Tips and warnings

  • When sending a Balikbayan box, be aware that it may take weeks for your package to get to its destination, even longer around the Christmas holidays. Therefore, plan to send your items far ahead of the time they need to be there to allow for normal shipping time and any delays.

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