Balikbayan Boxes – Shipping Cargo Boxes to the Philippines

cardboard packing box - balikbayan boxes Unless you’re a Filipino or have close ties to Filipinos, you probably don’t have a clue about what I’m talking about when I mention anything about balikbayan boxes.

The word “balikbayan” is actually a combination word coined in the 1970s and it refers to a Filipino who returns to the Philippines. Balikbayan boxes are large cardboard boxes transported by ship instead of air.

Balikbayan Boxes

If you want to ship stuff to the Philippines, using a postal service, UPS, DHL or FedEx is probably the most expensive way to do it. Balikbayan box cargo shipping services generally run between $100 and $200 (in US dollars) per box, which is far more inexpensive than the other choices available to you.

Before you ship anything, however, please think about what you’re shipping. Most of the things relatives and loved ones in the Philippines want can be bought in the Philippines at nearly the same price it costs in the United States and sometimes cheaper. A few examples are instant coffee, corned beef and SPAM.

Shipping balikbayan boxes can be an interesting experience in frustration if you don’t know where to go or who to contact. Since I receive e-mail messages asking about specific areas in the United States from time to time, the best thing I can do is list the information I have (the list is below).

Contacts and Empty Boxes

The best way to find out about cargo services in your area is to go to an Asian/Oriental market or supermarket. A lot of them are affiliated with one cargo company or another. They will usually have the empty boxes you can use for balikbayan boxes. You can call one of these markets if it’s a hassle driving to them, but I can’t guarantee you’ll get answers to your questions. In my experience, only a Filipino can talk to a Filipino without getting frustrated by the language barrier unless the Filipino on the other end speaks very good English.

Regardless of where you get the empty boxes, and you can’t just get them anywhere, you may or may not have to pay for them. Forex Cargo usually gives you empty boxes to replace boxes you’re currently shipping, but I don’t know about the other shippers. I believe all of them charge for the first batch of empty boxes, although they’re not expensive. It’s probably a practice used to discourage people from using them as home storage containers. The 24x18x18 size box is pretty big.

Balikbayan Box Cargo Services

Here is my attempt to point you to the cargo services closest to the area where you live in the United States (or country other than the Philippines). Updated on October 22, 2015 to include “Pinoy Box Delivery”:

If you have any information I can add and the comments area is still open, please post the information as a comment – please include a link to the website, Google Plus page or Facebook page. Otherwise, please use the contact page.

Update March 17, 2016

I received an e-mail message yesterday, asking me to warn customers:

Some Filipino-owned carriers are not insured at all and some don’t keep up the cargo liability insurance of $75K and $75K as bond as required by the Federal Maritime Commission if they do business anywhere in the United States. They aren’t registered with the FMC or with the local county or with the city where they do business. They don’t keep the required amount of insurance liability to pay for a damaged or lost box, which is a minimum of $500 per box. Instead, they only pay $200 per box.

Make sure you ask questions of any carrier you’re not familiar with, especially those cargo services owned and operated by Filipino businesses. Don’t let a cheap price cause you to do something foolish.

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20 Responses

  1. bryon green says:

    i live in the philippines now i want move back to flint michigan,i have 2 big suit case,and small box i want to ship to to states from me in philippines i fly back to flint michigan march 21 want my bags to get there before i do,what would be the best way ,i hear you drop off a box ,then pick it up when full ,give me so info first time doing this.Thank you Bryon Green.

    • RT Cunningham says:

      I’m sorry. I don’t have any information on that. I only know about shipping TO the Philippines, not FROM.

    • Taclobanon says:

      Check manila forwarder. Ive run across theyre website earlier. They do ship back to US at double cost at least. Also check Jonny Air.

      • Cris says:

        You are better of taking them with you on yiur flight. This way you don’t lose your boxes or luggegges. Good luck.

        • RT Cunningham says:

          Weights and sizes are restricted on airline flights. Those restrictions don’t exist when sending cargo boxes by sea.

  2. yvonne says:

    I’m here at canton ohio,,i’m looking for a balikbayan box service to the philippines,,i would like to send a box,,thanks

  3. Shane says:

    Hi, is star kargo az good in handling/sending balikbayan Boxes? I heard bad news about star kargo delivering Boxes inefficiently. Thanks

    • RT Cunningham says:

      The only thing negative that I’ve seen about them came from competitors. I haven’t used them – I’ve only used Forex.

  4. Sharlyn says:

    Any good cargo company which you can suggest for manila to new zealand bound vise versa

  5. RJ SILVESTRE says:

    can i ask about where can i get the box?
    and also how much it is and for sending?
    and is there any restriction to send in a box?
    my location is here in SAN RAMON, CA
    thanks.

  6. Simpleview123 says:

    I’m never in a hurry when having items shipped from the US, I use ocean cargo shipping. You pay by the cubic meter and do not have to worry about weight limits. It might take up to 5 weeks to receive your items at the port of entry. You can have something that weighs 250 kilos in that cubic meter container and it is the same price as it would be to ship something that weighs 10 kilos. If you are shipping a lot, and the items are heavy it is the way to ship, Just make sure you have all of your import documents in order first..

  7. Mbeth says:

    I live in wichita falls texas, is there any forex agent where we can drop off our boxes? Or in dallas maybe.

  8. darwin cristobal says:

    Hi. I need to find out how to contact tbar philippines. All the numbers they gave were unreachable here in the philipilpines. I need an active number.

    • RT Cunningham says:

      The only other number I found is 815-630-5420. It’s quite possible they’re not in business anymore.

  9. Tanya says:

    I live in South Bend, Indiana and want to send boxes to my family in the Philippines…what is the best and safest shipping company to use?

  10. jay says:

    Hello Mr Cunningham,
    Greetings, We are the 1st Balikbayan freight forwarder consolidator in the state of Illinois . LIPS transport is a licensed federal maritime commission and are bonded as well. LIPS is the only FMC license in the Midwest. From your mentioned list of companies, none of them carry the FMC license which required to export shipment to other countries. Our hope is that you not only recommend us readers and followers but to also see the importance of being licensed in this industry. Should you need more information. You can check our website : http://www.lipstransport.com. Please also check the validity of FMC licensed freight forwarders @ http://www.fmc.gov.

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