The “balikbayan box”: Everything you need to know before and after sending one

Expat life
28 Aug 2023
8 mins read
Written by Team Instarem

As an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), you may be experiencing a multitude of emotions while living abroad. While the excitement of your new surroundings may be overwhelming, we understand that homesickness can creep up when you least expect it.

That’s why we want to help you stay connected to your loved ones back home by sharing a comprehensive guide to sending and receiving balikbayan boxes. With our help, you can ensure that your packages arrive at their destination safely and securely. So don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Read on to learn everything you need to know about sending balikbayan boxes and spreading a little love across the miles.

What is a balikbayan box?

In the world of postal services to and from the Philippines, there exists a heartwarming concept called the balikbayan box. These special boxes, known as “return-to-home boxes” in translation, hold immense significance.

They are a heartfelt gesture from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to their families who live in the Philippines. The act of sending balikbayan boxes has become a beloved tradition, representing the deep love and care that OFWs have for their families.

It embodies the beautiful Filipino custom of “pasalubong,” where gifts are brought home for loved ones. Through these boxes, affection takes a tangible form, and every month, around 400,000 balikbayan boxes traverse countries, carrying the love and warmth of families separated by distance.

Who can send and receive balikbayan boxes?

When it comes to sending balikbayan boxes back home to the Philippines, the best part is that you don’t have to worry about any extra fees or taxes.

That’s right, the government has got your back. But, of course, there are specific rules to send these precious packages.

To do so, you need to belong to a certain profile:

  • Qualified OFWs,
  • Filipinos with a temporary visa,
  • Or living abroad with dual citizenship

And, just like our own “pasalubongs” have to be for a specific person, these items must be sent to a relative to avoid any added charges. Don’t worry, though. It’s still a great way to show your love for your family and friends back home without breaking the bank!

What goes inside a balikbayan box?

traveling with kids tips

What goes inside, you ask? Well, the real question is, what doesn’t go inside? From local snacks and souvenirs to clothes and shoes, the possibilities are endless (as long as it fits the size and weight limitations, of course). Here are more examples:

  • Personal care items (e.g., sunscreen, lipstick, makeup, etc.)
  • Chocolates
  • Shoes and other apparel
  • Canned goods
  • Medicine
  • Educational materials (e.g., books, pencil cases, etc.)

Just make sure not to pack prohibited and restricted items! Such as:

  • Perishables
  • Pornographic materials
  • Illegal drugs and medicine
  • Explosives and flammable items
  • Jewellery or any goods made of precious metal
  • Materials that advocate or incite treason

How do you send balikbayan boxes?

Are you planning on sending a balikbayan box back home? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Since 2017, there are some regulations you need to follow to verify your identity before sending or receiving your package safely.

But don’t worry, it’s super simple! All you need to do is fill out the online form and provide your government ID and itemized receipts. Have your shipping documents and an authorisation letter at hand to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

Before you get too excited, remember the total value of the items should not exceed 150,000 PHP and if you’re an official Overseas Filipino Worker, you can send up to three boxes per year.

What are the different types of balikbayan boxes?

While there may be many brands out there, there are only three sizes for these magical balikbayan boxes:

  • Medium: 18 x 16 x 18 inches
  • Large: 18 x 18 x 24 inches
  • Extra-large: 24 x 18 x 24 inches

Ah, the million-dollar question: air cargo or sea cargo? Choosing between the two is like choosing between pizza and tacos – both delicious options, but ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Here’s a quick comparison between the two methods:

Type of Transportation



Air Cargo

Fastest way to send packages, parcels, and documents

Depends on the size, type of parcel, and shipping location

Sea Cargo

On a budget and not in a rush

No weight limits

What are the different brands of balikbayan boxes?

There are different brands of balikbayan boxes available for individuals to choose from. Some of the carrier services include LBCExpress, Balikbayan Box UK Ltd., DHL, and Jolly-B Box. Here’s a quick guide to all the carrier services available in Singapore and Australia.

Send Balikbayan Box from Singapore

Prices start from: SGD 27.40

Address: 03-46 Lucky Plaza 304 Orchard Road, 238863, Singapore

Contact Number: 800-101-2708

Local Freight Forwarding Company in PH: LBC Express

Jolly-B Box

Prices start from: SGD80

Address: 304 Orchard Road #03-66 Lucky Plaza, Singapore

Contract Number:

  • 6836 6241
  • 6836 4044 (Delivery status)

Local Freight Forwarding Company: Jolly-B Box PH

DHL Global Forwarding (Singapore) Pte Ltd

For DHL, pricing is not fixed. Instead, they supply a quotation.

Address: 1 Changi South Street 2, DHL Distribution Centre, Singapore 486760

Contact Number: 6542 7668

Local Freight Forwarding Company in PH: DHL Global Forwarding (Philippines)

Afreight Cargo Pte Ltd

Address: 304 Orchard Road #3-19 Lucky Plaza Singapore, Singapore

Contact Number: 6235 1011

Local Freight Forwarding Company in PH: Afreight Phils., Inc

LG Container Lines Pte Ltd

Address: 19 Keppel Rd, #08-04 Jit Poh Building, Singapore 089058

Contact Number: 6227 0288

Local Freight Forwarding Company in PH: Box Logistics Express Int’l Corporation

DGX Singapore

Address: DGX Singapore Pte. Ltd. 57 UBI Avenue 1 #06-13 UBI Centre Singapore

Contact Number: 6225 1737

Local Freight Forwarding Company in PH: DGX Phils., Inc Eastrans Lines Pte Ltd.

Address: 02-01 Pasir Panjang Rd, Singapore

Contact Number: 6227 1661

Local Freight Forwarding Company in PH: Eastrans Line Phils., Inc.

Send Balikbayan Box from Sydney, Australia

LBC Australia

Address: Blacktown Branch – Station Arcade Lot 35/24-44 Main Street, Blacktown NSW 2148

Contact Number: +61 (8) 72260877

Plus Cargo Global Forwarder

Address: 1/341 Caddens Rd Claremont Meadows

Contact Number: +61 409 779 620

Send Balikbayan Box from Melbourne, Australia

LBC Australia

Address: Melbourne Branch – Factory 4, 51-53 Westwood Drive Ravenhall, VIC 3023

Contact Number: +61 3 8348 5766

DHL Global Forwarding

Address: 96-106 Link Rd, Melbourne Airport VIC 3045

Contact Number: +61 3 9344 8888

John Cordon Express Pty. Ltd

Address: PO BOX 4034 Narre Warren South 3805 Victoria, Australia

Contact Number: (03) 9704 2876

Send Balikbayan Box from Perth, Australia

DHL Global Forwarding

Address: 2 Fricker Rd, Perth Airport WA 6105

Contact Number: +61 8 9270 1900

Aussie Balikbayan Box

Address: 2/61 Guthrie St, Osborne Park WA 6017

Contact Number: (08) 9344 5342, (04) 3343 4799

Send Balikbayan Box from Brisbane, Australia

LBC Australia

Address: Brisbane Branch – 3/52 Rosedale St Coopers Plains QLD 4108, Brisbane

Contact Number: (0917) 529 8968

DHL Global Forwarding

Address: 9 Viola Place Brisbane Airport, Hamilton QLD 4007

Contact Number: +61 7 3637 7100

Rolling Express Qld

Address: 23 Learoyd Rd Acacia Ridge Brisbane, QLD, Australia

Contact Number: +61 478 5000 881

How to pack balikbayan box?

Packing a balikbayan box can feel like squeezing puzzle pieces into place, but fear not! We’ve got your back with this step-by-step guide on how to send off those boxes with ease. Sure, the process can vary depending on the brand or method of transportation, but don’t let that stress you out.

Think of it like Tetris, but instead of mindlessly filling rows, you’re sending love and goodies to family and friends across the seas. So, grab a pen, because we’re going to break down this process and make it as simple as possible for you.

Balikbayan boxes via Air freight*
  1. Choose a suitable box or pouch for the package (size affects the rates).
  2. Secure the items in bubble wrap, ensuring that each space is filled to prevent damage or loss.
  3. Declare all items using the packing list and inventory forms.
  4. Drop off your packages at the nearest branch or book a pickup.
  5. Do not fully seal the box.
  6. Carrier services will inspect the goods, approve them, and apply the final seal.
  7. Packages will be weighed, and shipping costs will be decided based on the weight.
  8. Carrier services will supply a tracking number.
Balikbayan boxes via Sea Cargo*
  1. Choose the appropriate size box or pouch to ensure the correct rates.
  2. Safeguard the items with bubble wrap, ensuring that the space is filled to prevent damage or loss.
  3. Declare all items using the packing list and inventory forms.
  4. Request pickup through online booking or by calling the carrier service hotline. Be mindful of not overfilling to avoid rejection.
  5. The carrier service will supply a tracking number for your reference.

Disclaimer: The following steps are based on LBCExpress and are provided as a reference or guide. For more details, it is recommended to check with the carrier services beforehand.

Before you go…

What happens when balikbayan boxes just won’t cut it? No worries!

With Instarem, you can easily send money to Philippines from Australia, Singapore, the United States, Hong Kong, and more! And the best part? You can send as much money as you want without worrying about any pesky box limits.

With low fees and great exchange rates, Instarem is a go-to for sending some love back home.

send money with Instarem

**rates are for display purposes only.

cash pickup

Try Instarem for your next transfer. 

Download the app or sign up here. 

***Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. All details are accurate at the time of publishing. Instarem has no affiliation or relationship with products or vendors mentioned. 

About Instarem

Instarem stands at the forefront of international money transfer services, facilitating fast and secure transactions for both individuals and businesses. Our platform offers competitive exchange rates for popular currency pairs like USD to INR, SGD to INR, and AUD to INR. If you're looking to send money to India or transfer funds to any of 60+ global destinations, Instarem makes it easy for you. We are dedicated to simplifying cross-border payments, providing cutting-edge technology that support individuals and businesses alike in overcoming traditional fiscal barriers normally associated with banks. As a trusted and regulated brand under the umbrella of the Fintech Unicorn Nium Pte. Ltd., and its international subsidiaries, Instarem is your go-to for reliable global financial exchanges. Learn more about Instarem.

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