Spill Proofing and Sending Irregular Size Balikbayan Boxes

Balikbayan Boxes from Alas Cargo

Balikbayan Boxes from Alas Cargo

With all the news  bruhaha lately regarding the Philippine Bureau of Customs in regards to “random” inspections, confiscations and ridiculous taxing of OFW care packages/ Balikbayan boxes,  it’s no surprise that people are worried about how they can make sure their current or future Balikbayan Boxes will arrive safe to their intended recipients.  Above that there are new changes on the duration how long before a box will ship to the Philippines.

As of December 2014-current Balikbayan  Boxes sent to Manila will take at least 40-45 days + 2-3 days for processing ( Total 50 days estimate) .    If they are held up in US Customs in Los Angeles they can be stalled for another 1-2 weeks.  Provincial delivery is between 48-55 days (2months).   This is for US-Philippines delivery.

Shipping duration may vary between Japan-Manila (4 weeks) , Saudi/Israel-Manila (6 -8 Weeks), Singapore- Manila (4-5 Weeks)

One documented gross violation the BOH did on some “Inspected” boxes are how families will receive their  boxes  damp, wet and disorganized.  Evidence pointing on how careless inspectors rummage through carefully and neatly packed boxes, disregarding the fragility of its contents.   By the time the box arrives to its intended destination the contents are disheveled and worse wet, leaving  items such as clothing & snacks in a damaged state.

Last night, despite all the red flag issues between the BOH and the Phil Govt, I decided to go on ahead and start packing a Balikbayan box, keeping in mind to CAREFULLY and SECURELY seal any fragile products I am sending.

I have covered this article before on how to securely pack BB Box contents but here are some additional tips & refreshers I hope can help many people when it comes to packing their Balikbayan box.

  1. Line your BalikBayan Box with Plastic or Tarp.

Regardless if the box is inspected or not by Customs, I always worry what if the box was subjected to the elements like a wet loading dock or rain? Water and moisture will get into the box and damage mostly the clothes and shoes I’m sending out.

Keeping that in mind, I use either painters plastic you can get in local hardware stores or Walmart, or even $1.00 plastic party table cover.

I line the bottom and sides of the box to make sure no moisture gets in. and also line the top before I seal the box. This way even if the box gets wet from the outside, the plastic lining protects it from moisture.

Lining your Balikbayan Box

Lining balaikbayan boxes with plastic or tarp will prevent outside moisture from doing damage

  1. Wrap delicate clothing in plastic or use Space Bags

I sometimes use trash bags with drawstrings to encase delicate pieces of clothing like cardigans & gowns to protects and secure them from getting damaged.

Using space Bags not only protects your clothing but also saves valuable space in your Balikbayan Box


  1. Bubble Wrap! Towel Wrap!

I love sending  out kitchen condiments like sauces, spices and sometimes sake & craft beer. Anything that comes in fragile, glass or breakable containers, I securely wrap in bubble wrap and then enclose in a ziplock bag or plastic in case the liquid contents spills out.

I then place the items snuggly on a blanket or towel (if Im sending any) to keep it safe from bumping or being crushed

Lining the inside walls of the box with bubble wrap adds protection from unnecessary damage.

Balikbayan Box Contents

Balikbayan Box Contents w/ bubble wrap lining

Bubble Wrapping a bottle

Bubble Wrapping a bottle

  1. Take Photos and make your own packing slip

Documents the contents of your items by takes several photos of the packaging process. Make a count of each item, take a final picture of the set up and send the list to the recipient.  Enclose a copy of that list inside the box

If any case an item is missing, you have a detailed punchlist  as a backup if you need to make a complaint.


A fully packed Balikbayan box

Sending an Odd Sized BalikBayan Box

There are times that you would want to send an item that normally does not fit the regular 24x18x24 sizes.

Maybe you would want to ship out some brackets, a fishing pole, a large Nerf Toy gun. Things that simply cannot be folded or disassembled.

Most of your cargo forwarders are open to accommodating irregular size boxes. But it is always better to call the company beforehand so they can provide you with an accurate rate per box.

Garment Boxes from the Container Store Sizes between 24″ x 14″ x 4″ h and 30″ x 16-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ h

You can purchase these boxes in any Box or Shipping supplies store, Walmart, UPS, Staples and Office Depot. The ones I will be using as an example below is what you call a Garment Box.

I spoke to one of my local favorite Balikbayan Box cargo forwarders and they gave me an estimate on using irregular sized shipping boxes

Box Size Pick Up Drop Off
26x20x16 $76 $66
29x17x20 $85 $75

Another great use for these boxes, is that you can use them as an alternative for checked in luggage when traveling back home to the Philippines.

As long as the over all dimension Length+Width+Height is 62 inches and not over 50 Lbs in weight.  Again great way to store items that are longer in length. Using a heavy duty box is lighter than your traditional suitcase, especially if you are carrying items such as clothing and anything that are not too fragile.  This saves you an extra 5-8Lbs that an empty suitcase alone would weigh.

***TIP:   As long the box over all dimensions does not exceed 62 inches  & 50 lbs you can use these boxes as alternative Balikbayan box luggage when you fly back home.  Saves you at least an extra  5lbs on weight (most suitcases weigh between 5-8 lbs)

Where can you buy Irregular Sized Boxes

Home Depot      Container Store                    Staples

Walmart               Big Box Stores                   Storage Units


End Note:

There are some ways you can expedite certain items like documents or small packages to the Philippines. Companies like LBC and Manila Forwarders do have an air cargo option for small personal effects that they charge by weight. You do need to pay extra but they can get to the Philippines between 3-14 days.  Link to Manila Forwarders Air Cargo guide can be seen here


2 thoughts on “Spill Proofing and Sending Irregular Size Balikbayan Boxes

  1. Pingback: New Balikbayan Box Rates as of 2015-2016 | The Adventures Of Ms. Circumstance

  2. Pingback: Why you should secure your Balikbayan Box – A personal story | The Adventures Of Ms. Circumstance

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