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Sharing is definitely caring when it comes to FIlipinos. Sharing can take on many forms, one of which is sending or bringing home a balikbayan box. In this post we share tips on packing a balikbayan box, keep the box safe and essential information about top service providers, across different states in Australia, with whom you can send a balikbayan box back home.

Balikbayan Box - Sending your love from Australia

Balikbayan is a conjoined term between two words, “balik” and “bayan”, which translate to “return” and “country”, this is the name for a returning Filipino. In 1973 the government started the initiative to encourage Filipinos overseas to come back and spend money in their home country - making the boxes tax and duty free and decreasing limits on baggage. The promotion became so popular that it was made permanent. Today, if you want to send a tax free box you need to be working overseas, your recipient must be related to you and the contents of your box cant exceed a value of 150,000 PHP. You are also limited to three tax free boxes per year.

There are more than 10 million Filipinos living and working overseas and usually, when these Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) return home or want to send their love home, the balikbayan box is the first choice.

"The balikbayan box not only contains material gifts, but also emotional value"

The box itself is unremarkable in appearance. Although it looks like any other corrugated brown cardboard, the balikbayan box is a lot more than meets the eye. It is a care package and sign of affection from loved ones.

Caring for others is a very important part of Filipino characteristics and values which is why sending these boxes for any occasion has become such a social norm.  Unlike Christmas presents, balikbayan boxes are usually made up of essentials like clothes, tinned food, school supplies and useful household items. In Australia, sending balikbayan boxes has been a common way to make up for one’s absence, especially during the pandemic.

Tips on packing goods in a balikbayan box

  1. Coat the outer box with packing tape while still empty.
    Remember to do this before you put anything inside the box, as doing so after will be a lot more difficult. Wrapping the corners will also make your box sturdier and more water-resistant.
  2. Seal containers with tape, and place them in a resealable bag, even if they are unopened.
    A lot can happen during travel, and reinforcing leak-prone containers will prevent spillages and stains on your other items.
  3. Use clothes or soft items to cushion fragile items.
    If you have items that you want to protect, use other soft items such as clothes or plush toys in between.
  4. Make sure to balance the items in terms of weight.
    Place heavier items on the bottom end, fragile items in the middle, and softer items on the topmost part of the box. Doing so will prevent your box from tipping over and getting damaged.
  5. Remember you have to declare your items.
    You will need to declare what's in the box, so write the list as you pack the box, this way you won’t forget what you already had inside.
  6. To maximize space, remove non-fragile items from their containers.
    While shipping companies usually do not put a weight limit on the boxes (some advise not to exceed 70kgs) the size of the box is usually important. A small box is usually around 54 x 41 x 37 cm and an extra-large shipping box is around 80 x 53 x 57 cm. Double check with the provider if they have set dimensions for boxes.

If you want to send a balikbayan box home here are some businesses that offer the service:

  1. Aussie Balikbayan Boxes

    Established in 1995, Aussie Balikbayan Boxes is the first balikbayan box courier service in Perth. Its flagship office is located in metropolitan Perth, but it has multiple cargo agents across the state. Cut-off of pick-ups is usually on the third week of every month.

    Location: Various locations across WA
    Cost: Request a quote

    Locations:

    Ossie & Lolita: 0416 592 231
    Singleton, 13 Laird Street

    Anita Burgers: 08 9438 3270
    Bicton, 5/12 Bristle Rd

    Peter & Elvie Ottaway: 08 9457 3495
    Willetton, Progressive Auto Shop, 4/4 Moonie St

    Merley Lee: 08 9257 3321
    Kalamunda, 9/10 Byron Village, Byron Road

    Far East Import & Export Morley Markets: 08 9275 5354,
    Morley, SHOP 3 / 238 WALTER RD MORLEY MARKET

    Mel Fiocco: 0433 166 052
    Melville, 7 French Rd

    Melissa’a Supermart: 08 94345269
    Huntingdale, Shop 6 / 74 Warton Road

    Pinoy Mini Mart: 08 6364 0898
    Queens Park, 8/207 Treasure Road, Queens Park

    Phoenix Asian Shop: 08 94188921
    Spearwood, SHOP 3 / 252 ROCKINGHAM ROAD

    To request a quote, visit their website or call any of these numbers:

    - (08) 9344 5342
    - (04) 3343 4799
    - (08) 9407 7640
    - (04) 3343 4800
    - (08) 6102 - 7837
    - +61 86-102-7837

  2. Chenvel

    Chenvel has been in the courier business since 2003 and claims to be the fastest and the most affordable way to send boxes from Australia to the Philippines. They also offer door-to-door delivery services, meaning that they provide pick-up and direct delivery to your recipient’s doorstep. The offering is very attractive and hassle-free, as other balikbayan courier services would usually require recipients to claim the boxes from customs, and do not offer door-to-door delivery.

    The weight limit is also 70kg, which gives customers more freedom on what to send.

    Vessel departure dates are on the fifteenth and thirtieth of each month, which means the cut-off dates are at least a day before.

    Serviced areas: Melbourne, Sydney and its surrounding suburbs
    Cost: AUD 85
    Dimensions of the box: 21x22x24 1/2 Inches Size
    Maximum weight: 70 kgs
    Type: Sea Freight
    Delivery time: 6 to 9 weeks

    From vessel departure, the approximate delivery times are as follows:

    Metro Manila: around 6 weeks
    Luzon: 6 to 7 weeks
    Visayas: 7 to 8 weeks
    Mindanao: 8 to 9 weeks

    Schedule a pick-up on their website or call 0468 990 089.

  3. LBC

    LBC is one of the longest running courier companies in the Philippines and abroad. In Australia, LBC offers fast and reliable services to various parts of the Philippines.

    Do note that LBC usually requires declaration of goods and some items such as cash, tobacco, liquids that are prone to leaking, and alcoholic beverages are prohibited to be included for air cargo. Items that are high in value such as artworks and antiques are also not accepted. A complete list of prohibited items can be found on their website.

    Unlike Chenvel, LBC has physical branches and partners with Filipino-owned establishments to be cargo agents.

    Branch locations: Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane
    Cost: Varies depending on size and destination. Starts at AUD 85
    Types: Air and sea freight
    Request a quote: https://www.lbcexpress.com/shipping-services

    Branch/cargo agent addresses:

    Victoria - Melians Sari-Sari Store (Cargo Agent):

    Shop 16 Stables Shopping Centre 314-360 Childs Rd Mill Park Vic 3082

    +61 (4) 04064261

    Queensland - LBC Brisbane:

    3/52 Rosedale St Coopers Plains QLD 4108, Brisbane

    1800 522 0000

    South Australia - Aga’s Store (Cargo Agent):

    32 Commercial Rd, Salisbury SA 5108

    New South Wales - LBC Express:

    24-44 Main St, Blacktown NSW 2148

    0410 185 795

  4. BM Express

    BM Express has been in business for around 25 years, and is a long standing balikbayan box business in Australia. Its tagline “Door to Door to the Philippines” speaks for itself, which is why BM Express is one of the top choices for Filipinos when it comes to sending their boxes.

    The business has offices in NSW and in Antipolo, Philippines, which gives the impression that they do not outsource courier services. This means that you do not have to worry about talking to several couriers when you track your boxes.

    Location: NSW
    Cost varies: Starts at $105
    Types: Sea and air freight

    Estimated Cost:

    Sea:
    $105 within Metro Manila
    $115 within Luzon
    $130 within Visayas
    $140 within Mindanao

    Air:
    $8/kg (20 - 35 kgs) + $10 handling fee within Metro Manila + $15 - 60 within Luzo
    $11/kg (20 - 35 kgs) + $50 within Visayas and Mindanao

    If you are interested in bringing your bulky items such as furniture and appliances, BM Express also offers container sea cargo services which includes packing of goods and delivery from point to point.

Not keen on going through the hassle of sending a box?

You can't always send an entire box home when you want your family to know you love them. Apart from sending a balikbayan box, sending money to the Philippines may be a good alternative, as it is also a form of care.  Doing so is a lot faster and your recipients can have more freedom on what to use the money for.  Sable Remit can help facilitate your money transfers to the Philippines and provide better rates than banks. 

What are your favorite things to pack in your balikbayan box? Share this article and let us know in your caption what items your loved ones look forward to and why.