Tips on Safer, Better Delivery of Balikbayan Boxes

balikbayan-boxPacking a balikbayan box is an unwritten part of Filipino culture abroad. Whether you’re in Dubai, Hong Kong or America, balikbayan boxes are popular means of sending packs of happiness to families and relatives back in the Philippines.

While we think that sometimes this is not a practical or safe one (they say heading to the remittance center and send money is better) and think it’s not worth it, balikbayan box invokes a distinctive smile to our family members who are eager to rip the box apart and enjoy the freebies. It also allows them to experience as if they’re with us tasting the food we eat, wear the clothes we wear.

Sending balikbayan box is sometimes a risk one has to take. If you don’t pack your goods well, they might end up as garbage at the time of arrival. If you dealt with a bogus door-to-door agency, your canned goods, electronic products and clothes may get lost along the way, effectively wasting the effort of buying and packing them. Case in point is Al Safwa Cargo in Dubai which received various complaints, accused of missing boxes which failed to reach intended recipients.

In response to this clamor, the Philippine Shippers’ Bureau (PSB), a government agency under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), mandated to protect the shippers’ interests including the economical and efficient movement of their packages and cargoes, is reminding Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and their families to observe the proper safety measures in shipping their balikbayan boxes. This coming Christmas season, we expect a surge in delivery of door to door boxes to the Philippines. And this could usher a series of scams perpetrated by unregistered logistics agents.

Here are PSB’s tips:

  • Do not include prohibited items in your balikbayan box such as money or its equivalent, valuables, firearms, explosives, illegal substances, pornographic materials and pirated products;
  • Entrust only your balikbayan boxes to companies having local seafreight forwarding agent with PSB-accreditation. Ask the foreign seafreight forwarder for the company name of their local agent in the Philippines with its business address and contact number. Then request your relatives in the Philippines to check on the information given by the foreign seafreight forwarder;
  • Furnish the foreign seafreight forwarder with a packing list that declares all the articles inside your balikbayan box including the fair market value;
  • Secure transport documents such as cargo or official receipt that reflects the company name of the local seafreight forwarding agent with its corresponding business address and contact information;
  • The sender and consignee are advised to monitor the shipment of their balikbayan boxes by closely coordinating with the foreign and local seafreight forwarders;
  • If there is delay or any doubt to the reports/ statements being issued by the seafreight forwarders, immediately call the DTI Hotline at 751-3330 for appropriate action.

The Philippine Shippers’ Bureau is located at the 2nd Floor of Trade and Industry Building, 361 Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City. Aside from the DTI Hotline 751-3330, PSB may be contacted at 751-3304/ 890-4892/ 751-0384 loc. 2514/ 2515, with fax number at 751-3305. Prompt action from victims help minimize, if not eliminate, malpractice in the door to door delivery business.

Photo credit: nessfaust