Demystifying the Philippine Bureau of Customs Rules On Balikbayan Boxes

The Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) and their rules on parcels and balikbayan boxes is still a mystery to some people. BOC’s rules and regulations can still get most people wondering and at times confused. Let us demystify and make it much simpler for you by answering frequently asked questions about the BOC.

What is The Philippine Bureau of Customs?

The Philippine Bureau of Customs is an agency under the Department of Finance that is tasked to assess and collect customs revenues, keep in check illegal trade and customs fraud, and use a customs management system to enable effective and efficient trading.

What are balikbayan boxes?

Balikbayan boxes are care packages sent by Filipinos from overseas to their loved ones back home. These shipping boxes can also be brought by overseas Filipinos returning to the Philippines by air or sea freight.

What are the items that are ALLOWED to be brought to the Philippines through balikbayan boxes, parcels, or passenger baggage?

Balikbayan boxes, parcels, and passenger baggage must only contain items for household and personal use.

Items that may be brought into the country without clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and only for personal use with the allowed quantity, include the following:

  • Toys (10 pieces), childcare items (5 kg), perfumes (5 bottles), shampoo (2 kg), lotion (2 kg), lipstick (10 pieces), lotion (2 kg), bars of soap (2 kg), assorted cosmetics (1 kg), hazardous household substance (5 kg), vitamins and health supplements for maintenance (total of 500 g), wines/liquor (2 bottles), and processed food (10 kg)

Keep in mind that when sending valuable new items (i.e. gadgets, jewelry etc.), these items should be declared and supported with a receipt. Used items and less valuable items (i.e. toiletries, chocolates etc.), on the other hand, do not require a receipt but need to be listed on the declaration form.

What items are NOT ALLOWED to be placed inside balikbayan boxes, parcels, and passenger baggage?
  • The following are commonly restricted items which are prohibited unless authorized by law or by a regulating agency: firearms & explosives, cement or asphalt, drug paraphernalia (unless prescribed for medical conditions), cheese, meat, fruits and vegetables (unless canned), used clothing of commercial quantity or in bulk like “ukay ukay”, perishable food items.

BOC advises senders of balikbayan boxes to strictly adhere to the rules to avoid hassle and delay of delivery.

Why do balikbayan boxes get delayed?
  • Contrary to what others may think, the BOC is not the only authority that is responsible for the delay of the delivery of balikbayan boxes. It would be helpful to understand the journey the balikbayan boxes go through.

Before the balikbayan box even makes its way to its intended destination, it goes through a process and it includes the freight forwarder to secure permits, accreditation, and other necessary documents. The issuance of these special permits may be the reason for the delay.

After the permits have been secured, the balikbayan box, then, gets delivered by the freight forwarder. When the box reaches the BOC, it will be inspected and assessed. This is done through x-ray scanning.

If the balikbayan box or package is considered as high-risk cargo, then a delay may happen. BOC inspectors will be permitted to open and inspect a balikbayan box or package if it gets suspected as containing restricted items.

Who are qualified to send tax-free balikbayan boxes or packages?
Who are the qualified to receive balikbayan boxes?
  • The recipient or recipients should be a relative of the sender up to the fourth degree of affinity to be qualified to receive balikbayan boxes.
What is the new policy in sending balikbayan boxes as per Bureau of Customs?
  • The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has toned down the guidelines for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) availing the duty-free and tax-free privileges for consolidated balikbayan boxes. The guidelines come in the form of the Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) 18-2018, issued on October 11 and that which replaces CMO 04-2017.

The following are some of the things to keep in mind in reference to the new policy of the Bureau of Customs:

    • Aside from a copy of a Philippine passport, the BOC will now accept other documents as proof of Filipino citizenship. These are; a photocopy of the page of a Philippine passport with personal information, picture and signature; a photocopy of foreign passport in case of a dual Filipino citizen without a Philippine passport; a permanent resident ID; an Overseas Employment Certificate or Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) work permit; a Unified Government ID; and any other similar document with the exception of a birth certificate.
    • Only personal and household items are allowed to be sent through consolidated balikbayan boxes.
    • Qualified Filipinos are not required to submit commercial invoices of the goods contained in their balikbayan boxes, but they will be required to submit three copies of the information sheet with a list of items included in the box to the freight forwarders.
    • Penalties will be imposed to senders of balikbayan boxes and all other participants if they use the shipment as some sort of channel for smuggling according to Section 1401 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
    • Balikbayan boxes will not be opened for a physical examination if the boxes are marked as “no suspect” after mandatory inspection via X-ray.

With all these pertinent information about Filipinos sending balikbayan boxes or packages, we should already be aware of what or what not to do to avoid penalties or delays when it comes to the delivery of the shipment. When bringing balikbayan boxes to freight forwarders for shipping, make sure to only include personal and household effects and don’t forget to include an itemized list of the things that you will be sending. This will allow freight forwarders to provide you with a correct computation and to make sure that your items are safe, and in accordance with what is allowed to be included in the boxes. The bottom line is, we should make ourselves aware of the rules when shipping balikbayan boxes to avoid any kind of hassles.

If you have more inquiries about your balikbayan packages, give fastboxPh a call. We will be more than happy to assist you.

Sending Love Through Balikbayan Box

A balikbayan box is basically a physical expression of the sender’s connection to their loved ones – a way to give and share, despite being far from each other. When sending balikbayan boxes, we want to be certain that our packages are delivered safely. To ensure the secured shipping of your balikbayan boxes, you should work with a reliable cargo shipping company.

Since it’s love month, we would like to share some of our most loved videos on balikbayan boxes. What do they have in common? Ultimately, it’s all about love, and how love is expressed through balikbayan boxes.

Video #1: Pareng Partners: Balikbayan Boxes

This video, produced by ABS-CBN News & Current Affairs and hosted by Anthony Taberna with Jorge Cariño features Anabel Eugenio, an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) based in Hong Kong.  In the midst of all the problems and heartaches from being away from her loved ones, Anabel makes it a point to send all her family’s needs.

However, for most OFWs, it is not really a simple task to fill a box. They usually buy and collect goods for their families, and then try their hardest to fit them all in a balikbayan box. Despite being away from their loved ones, Filipino migrant workers endure all the hardships just to support their families back home. In a way, it is quite endearing when Filipinos send balikbayan boxes to stay connected to their families and make them feel their love.

Many Filipinos who have loved ones working abroad excitedly anticipate balikbayan boxes. Overseas Filipino Workers ship their boxes to the Philippines as early as September so that their “pasalubongs” will be received by their family just in time for the Christmas holidays.

Video #2: Balikbayan Box (Pinoy Wrecking Ball Parody)

Mikey Bustos’ “Balikbayan Box (Pinoy Wrecking Ball Parody)” is a very humorous way to let people have a glimpse of how we, as Filipinos, love to receive balikbayan boxes from our loved ones working abroad. The Filipino singer and comedian, born and raised in Canada, did a splendid job with his hilarious parody of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” with funny lyrics. It is a clever way to inform people of the general reaction of Filipinos when receiving a balikbayan box full of various “pasalubongs”, whether they be goods that are essential or just plain unnecessary. Watch the music video and get absolutely entertained!

Video #3: Tip on how to pack your Balikbayan Box (Tutorial) From DaNoy Logistics

From whimsical down to outright informational. This third video is a how-to video tutorial on tips to properly pack and secure your balikbayan box created by DaNoy Logistics, A Denmark based logistics company catering to Filipinos living in this Scandinavian country. When sending a balikbayan box, you would obviously want your package to reach its destination so that your loved ones will enjoy your “pasalubong”. To ensure the safe and efficient delivery of your surprise goodies, they created a video so you won’t miss a thing.

Video #4: MetroBox Cargo | Balikbayan Freight Forwarding Services

Metro Box Cargo offers door-to-door services for all your balikbayan needs — from balikbayan boxes, to special cargo shipments, and container or vehicle shipments for returning residents. Visit Metro Box Cargo’s select branches to send care packages from the USA to the Philippines.

Metro Box Cargo lives up to its tagline, “Serbisyong Totoo, Padala Mo Sigurado”, making sure their door-to-door services are up to par and your packages are secured and delivered properly.

For more information on Metro Box Cargo’s services, you can call their toll free number at 1-855-355-6387.

There you go, our top 4 favorite balikbayan box videos. Sending Filipino love from all over the world. Watch out for our very own video which we will be launching soon.

FastboxPh is your fast and reliable door to door shipping and logistics services to the Philippines, based in Australia. We offer quality service and guarantees excellent customer satisfaction.

Our highly-trained and hardworking team of professionals are always ready to serve you and provide you with the following services: Sea Cargo Balikbayan Boxes, Air Ship Balikbayan Boxes, Returning Residents, Motorcycle Vehicle Shipments, Loose Cargo Shipments, and Container Shipments.

For inquiries, please don’t hesitate to send us an email at or contact our dedicated toll-free number: +1 (300) 306-738.

Happy shipping!!


Merry Christmas and Cheers to 2019!

The Christmas season is not just a time for celebration with family and friends but it’s also a time for reflection and thanksgiving to the many blessings given to us, to our families, to our friends, and to you, our business customers. Even if 2018 felt chaotic and challenging at times, there are still many things to be grateful for – our faith and love in God, our health, our families, our friendships, and our jobs – all of these we take with us when we face the new year.

We at FastboxPh would like to take this opportunity to express our heartfelt thanks for your continued patronage and support throughout all the years when we were still known as Fastpak Express Australia. We are so appreciative to have customers like you who are a pleasure to do business with. We promise to continue to provide you with the same service and quality you’ve come to depend on and expect throughout this year and beyond, now as FastboxPh.

The new year means starting fresh and having a clean slate. It means reinvigorating oneself and greeting the new year with a positive and hopeful outlook. Remember that popular saying, “Out with the old and in with the new!” This saying not only applies to us individually but also in our everyday lives.

Are you or do you know anyone who’s planning to move back to the Philippines? We at FastboxPh can certainly help you and take out the stress and pressure that moving invariably makes. Should you also include a motorcycle with your move back to the Philippines, we can also help you with that. Contact us and we’re more than happy to assist you in this regard.

Finally, we at FastboxPh ship all year-round so you need not send balikbayan boxes very close to the holidays and up until at the last-cut-off ship date. As savvy shoppers, take advantage of the seasonal sales happening throughout the year. Not only will you get the most bang for your hard earned dollars, but by using this strategy you can shop enough to have presents for those not even on your list!

What you need to know before shipping your motorcycle to the Philippines

As many of you already know, we are best known for shipping balikbayan boxes. But did you know that we ship motorcycles and other recreational vehicles as well? In particular, this is one of the freight forwarding services we provide to returning residents, businesses and other organizations who are moving back to the Philippines.

For those considering this service, we are fully aware and understand the enormity of your decision to ship your vehicle and costs associated with the service. Know that we always will ensure to bring the best care and service to your vehicle every step of the way as it reaches its final destination in the Philippines.

That said, here are some essential tips for preparing your vehicle for shipment overseas:

Documentation and paperwork – We ask that you complete the documents as early as possible so we can prevent delays from port or customs officials and related agencies. We will assist you on any questions you may have when filling the different forms and we will take care of the rest.

Check vehicle’s exterior for dents, scratches, and notable markings – Before shipping, thoroughly wash your vehicle both inside and out because this is the best way to expose all flaws, dents, scratches.

Take photos of both vehicle’s exterior and interior – This is very important and remember to share these photos with us. They will also be included as part of the documentation package for your vehicle. If you are unsure what kind of photos are needed, we can set up an appointment and together we can document your vehicle’s exterior and interior – all dents, scratches, notable markings and customizations.

Disclose and record any mechanical issues, especially leaks, and fix/repair them as soon as possible. Both Australia and Philippine governments are very strict as both consider this issue as very hazardous and both will deny clearance.

Whether or not to crate – this is an important consideration for motorcycles that are vintage collector’s items and/or especially customized versions. A special wooden crate is built to house and provide extra protection for the motorcycle.

Make sure the keys are not in the ignition so the keys do not get lost while in transit.

Battery – disconnect the wires prior to shipping, but make sure that the battery is in good condition.

Make sure that the VIN number is visible and/or easy to access for customs officials.

Make sure that the kickstand is not engaged so as not to compromise the motorcycle’s suspension system.

In a nutshell, shipping your motorcycle can be an easy process provided you remember a few important and sensible things: complete all documentation and paperwork, ensure that your motorcycle is in good working condition, and take photos (many of them!) and share them with us. Lastly, if you are unsure of anything, contact us as soon as possible so we can avoid potential issues and delays. Before you know it, your motorcycle will have arrived safely at its final destination!

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