Sending balikbayan boxes is an OFW (overseas Filipino worker) tradition that started as early as the ’80s when the Philippines’ Labor Export policy was in full swing. Decades later, it has become a booming industry.
While the gesture of packing up to a six-cubic-foot box is thoughtful, it can give you headaches in practice. It pays to know how to do it right to experience as less stress as possible. For starters, here are the common problems OFWs face, and how to solve them:
Avoiding a Dishonest Freight Forwarder
First of all, find a Customs-certified freight forwarder in the Philippines. The biggest mistake many OFWs make is entrusting their package to an unreliable cargo company. If you work with a disreputable freight forwarding partner, you might experience a great delay at best and be used as an instrument for smuggling at worst.
Fortunately, the “balikbayan box” industry is better regulated these days. The Bureau of Customs (BOC) provides a list of rule-compliant freight forwarders on its website to help you know which one to trust.
Earning the Tax-Free Privilege
Former President Benigno Aquino III extended the balikbayan box duty and tax exemption privilege enjoyed by qualified OFWs from 10,000 to 150,000 pesos. However, its demanding requirements received backlashes. In response, BOC recently eased the rules. It’s no longer necessary to submit commercial invoices when they’re not available. Moreover, a copy of the sender’s Philippine passport is no longer mandatory; the bureau now accepts other documents such as the work permit or a permanent resident ID.
Tracking the Package
Lost balikbayan boxes are old news that are still making headlines. If you’ve been traumatized by such in the past, don’t fret because it’s now easier to monitor your package. For as long as you work the right freight forwarder, your balikbayan box should be properly entered into the bureau’s system. BOC’s online tracker is accessible through its website, which would tell you the shipment’s status every step of the way.
A balikbayan box means more than its contents; it’s the product of your blood, sweat, and tears. Do everything to ensure that yours reaches its destination on time so that you can be with your family this Christmas even if you’re oceans away.