Your eyes light up when you see the forwarding company handle the bulky balikbayan box from the delivery truck to your doorstep. You know there is something special inside the box that is yours and yours alone. You know that the box represents goodies from your family member abroad. You realize that it is their way of saying they remember you and that they care about you from across the miles.
Receiving a balikbayan box is always a treat since we know that our loved ones saved for our special requests and made sure that it will be accommodated. We also know that it represents sacrifice since they do not just magically fill it up with goods. Some of our loved ones forego meals and snacks just to make sure they will get to save enough for us. Yes, the stateside scent makes our noses quiver, but at the same time it should signal to our realization that the sender has sent not only material things but more importantly, affection.
OFW Guide: How to Send a Balikbayan Box to the Philippines
Balikbayan boxes may just be simple corrugated boxes filled with goods and wrapped in packaging tape for additional support. But the message that they bring is far better than just the materials being given.
Choosing the Method for Cargo Delivery: Sea versus Air
Balikbayan boxes need to arrive safely and without any damages as much as possible. The valuables contained therein might get damaged, so special care must be considered if you are to choose which between sea cargo and air cargo.
Both methods have their pros and cons. Sea cargos are pretty much not bound by a tight schedule as they tend to be more democratic in their speeds. However, air cargo would be strict with their scheduling and their loading of goods because they follow a timetable which would maximize their effectivity and profits.
Sea cargo boxes need to be heavy duty and should be able to withstand the stress of prolonged exposure to the elements. However, for air cargo, the boxes would have to be regular sized which means you will be saving on packaging costs. Sea freight cargos would also be much larger since they have bigger space available. However, air freight cargos would be smaller since there is a limit to the cargo space in airplanes.
Lower insurance premiums are also being paid for air cargo shipments because the timeframe is small and the risk is minimal. However, the insurance coverage for sea freight is considerably higher due to the fact that it is more exposed.
Sea freight cargos would tend to be cheaper in terms of excise taxes because they tend to pass less bureaucratic red tape and processes. On the other hand, air freight cargos would have to undergo a lot of processes which can increase the prices.
However, air freight would also be safer since there are tighter security measures in place. Sea cargos, while there are several measures in place would have looser mechanisms. This also means, shippers who use air cargos need to declare their gadgets for their security purposes – which means a bigger tax for some to cover the costs of insurance.
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III signed into law the Customs Modernization Tariff Act which increased the tax-free incentives of shippers using balikbayan boxes.
In this law, all OFWs can now send up to three boxes containing $1,500 worth of goods any given year except for commercial purposes such as barter, trade or selling. This is an increase from the previous $200 cap.
Ten-year veteran OFWs can also avail of tax exemptions for personal and household effects not exceeding Php 350,000 when they come back to the country. This is on top of the tax- and duty-free balikbayan box exemptions that they can enjoy.
Five-year OFWs can avail of personal and household effects exemption of P250,000. OFWs with less than 5 years of experience and coming back to the country will get to enjoy an exemption of P150,000.
Freight Forwarders: It’s a Choice
Should you not decide between going through sea or air, you can always go with accredited package forwarders such as LBC, JohnnyAirCargo or U MAC Forwarders Express, Inc. to send your balikbayan boxes home. These companies have great customer satisfaction ratings and guaranteed delivery times. They would be able to assist you in sending the boxes to your family.
Make sure that you would only be transacting with trusted and accredited forwarders otherwise you risk the chance of losing your precious cargo. Look at the licenses and make sure that you only transact with authorized personnel during their office times. Also make sure that your cargo can be tracked at any time.
You can check and verify a list of verified cargo forwarders through this link : http://www.dti.gov.ph/consumers/accredited-seafreight-forwarders
Prohibited Items in a Balikbayan Box:
The following items are prohibited to be included inside your balikbayan boxes.
- Alcohol/alcoholic drinks
- Automobile/motorcycle, parts or whole
- Ceramic tableware
- Cultural artifacts and pottery
- Defense articles or items with military or proliferation applications
- Products containing dog or cat fur, as well as animal hide
- Drug paraphernalia (unless prescribed for medical conditions)
- Firearms, explosives (including parts)
- Cheese, Meat, fruits and vegetables (unless canned)
- Pets, plants, seeds, soil
- Used clothing of commercial quantity (ukay-ukay or in bales)
- Pornographic materials
- Fluids and other perishable food items
Please avoid sending these items to prevent any unfortunate circumstances. There have been some instances wherein these items have been sent but we do not want to tempt fate and have our items confiscated.
As we send our loved ones the items in our balikbayan boxes, let us remember that it would satisfy their immediate needs and wants. It would satisfy their curiosity and their eagerness to try something new. Send home your love as well through letter and other sweet nothings. Let us remember that whatever material possessions may be inside these boxes, each one has been imbued with the undying love that you feel for each recipient.
Go on, fill your balikbayan boxes in time or the holidays!