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  • Metrobox Cargo

What You Can Send in a Balikbayan Box, Part 1

At Metrobox, we’re always asked by customers about what items they can send in a balikbayan box. There’s a whole lot of ground to cover in answering this question and we’ll break it down for you in the next series of blogs. We’re talking general terms here, and so if you have specific questions or need clarification, feel free to contact us either at our Hayward or Santa Fe Springs offices.

That said, let’s take this time to focus in on and go over what the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine government deems generally acceptable, and what they consider special items (with special provisions).

The following general acceptable items are the ones that you may be familiar with. Note that the Bureau of Customs consider all balikbayan box contents as personal items. Generally acceptable items include:

  • Clothing and shoes

  • Textiles and samples

  • Small furniture – like a small drawer or jewelry box; make sure that these items are well-packed, especially for items that are easily breakable such as glass and ceramic.

  • Non-perishable grocery items that are canned and/or vacuum-sealed and packed

  • Books and periodicals (magazines and journals)

  • Documents (with or without commercial value)

  • Toys – make sure that the batteries and the toys are packed separately

  • Metal cookware (stainless steel and cast iron)

  • Small household appliances (handheld mixers, blenders, irons, hair dryers)

  • Vehicle accessories – such as visors, car organizers, car chargers, and cell phone holders.

The following items fall under special items with special provisions. What we mean about special provisions are when these acceptable products are packed appropriately and it a certain way inside the balikbayan box, so that we’ll be able to send your shipment to your loved ones without delays at customs. Special items with special provisions include:

  • Electronics – such as televisions, cell phones, computer desktops, laptops, tablets (iPad, Samsung Tab series), gaming consoles (Playstation, Nintendo, Xbox), gaming controllers and remotes, and two-way radios to name a few.

    • For laptops, two-way radios, remotes and any gadget that comes with removable batteries, make sure that the batteries are kept together and inside these products and that all are turned off.

    • For devices with sealed and/or non-removable batteries like the iPad and the iPhone, make sure that they are turned off as well.

    • For spare batteries and portable chargers (aka power packs), especially lithium-ion ones, make sure that they are in their original packaging, when possible, and/or sealed and wrapped.

  • Cosmetics – such as makeup (examples: lipstick, mascara, foundation powder or liquid form), creams, lotions, personal products such as shampoos conditioners, deodorants, water-based colognes, and shaving gels/lotions.

    • Anything liquid such as lotions, shampoos and conditioners, make sure that their covers are secured, sealed, and reinforced with tape to prevent leakage.

    • Shaving gels, deodorants, and colognes should not be in pressurized containers and canisters.

  • Breakable Items – such as mirrors, glassware (wine goblets, drinking glasses, glass mixing bowls), tableware (plates, dishes, platters), glass pitchers, vases, laboratory equipment (beakers, glass tubing), ceramic cookware to name a few.

    • These items should be packed well with bubble wrap and paper combo, and then sealed with tape.

    • Let your freight forwarding service know that your shipment contains these breakable items so they can affix FRAGILE stickers on your balikbayan box.

  • Medicines and Health Supplements

    • Over-the-counter (OTC) medication is acceptable (example, ibuprofen and their brand name counterparts like Advil) and should be properly labeled.

    • Health supplements such as plant based ones such as moringa and ampalaya, should also be packed, sealed with tape, and labeled accordingly.

  • Liquids that are nonflammable and non-hazardous

    • Water, regular or flavored (non-pressurized or in cans)

    • Syrups (maple, pancake syrups)

    • Viscous fluids like honey, soup and meals in cans (Campbell’s Big ‘n Hearty soups, Spaghetti O’s, Chef Boyardee), soup concentrates (Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup in a can)

    • Pastes, like toothpaste

    • Fruit jams, preserves, and marmalades

    • Peanut butter, hazelnut and other almond spreads (Nutella)

    • Liquid medicines (Dayquil and Nyquil)

There you have it. We hope we’ve given you, thus far, some ideas on what you can send in a balikbayan box and how to pack them.

If anything else, three takeaways to keep in mind: 1) pack your items in their original packaging, when possible, in order to prevent damage during shipment.

Televisions, desktops, plates, and wine goblets are great examples of these; 2) secure and seal the tops and covers of liquids with tape, especially those covers and tops that you press down or flip up; and 3) when in doubt, call us. It never hurts to be sure. Stay tuned for our next segment. Mabuhay!

Metro Box Cargo is a freight forwarding services company established in 2013 with two main offices/warehouses in the United States – in Hayward (northern California) and in Santa Fe Springs (southern CA), and one office/warehouse in Teachers Village in Quezon City in the Philippines.

Founded by Egay Tajonera, and his wife Mabelle, they are passionate in providing exceptional service to the Filipino community. Our company provides personalized, reliable, on-time customized door to door service for balikbayan boxes, container shipments, loose cargo, and odd-sizes shipments. We also offer vehicle shipping services for cars and motorcycles.

Our friendly and helpful staff, as well as our authorized agents, are available to assist you and answer questions you may have. Feel free to call or stop by our two main offices/warehouses, or at our six drop-off locations which can be found inside Island Pacific stores. Visit our website at for more details.

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