What Items Are Not Allowed in a Balikbayan Box?

Items You Shouldn’t Pack in a Balikbayan Box

Balikbayan Box photo by @seasonalplume via Flickr CC

All the Prohibited Items in Balikbayan Box

Team Out of Town Blog Hub ( – Sending a balikbayan box has always been an integral part of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) culture. These are huge boxes often sent by OFWs to their families back home. Apart from money remittance, a balikbayan box is a much-awaited gift by the recipients because it contains carefully thought of items bought abroad by their loved ones. However, did you know that not all products are allowed in a balikbayan box?

Balikbayan Box photo by @seasonalplume via Flickr CC
Balikbayan Box photo by @seasonalplume via Flickr CC

According to the Bureau of Customs (BOC), one can send only “personal or household effects.” Items that are in commercial quantities are not allowed. To define commercial quantities, a good rule of thumb would be no more than 20 items of the same kind of consumable goods and not more than 5 items of the same kind of non-consumable goods. Items shouldn’t be for sale, hire, or for barter too. Read on to know the things you shouldn’t pack in a balikbayan box.

Prohibited Importation

Here’s a list of the prohibited items in a balikbayan box:

  • Drug paraphernalia – Goods, instruments, drugs, or substances that are designed, intended, or adapted to produce unlawful abortion; printed matter that tells where or how to get, directly or indirectly, unlawful abortion
  • Pornographic materials – Includes written, printed, negative, or cinematographic films, photos, engravings, lithographs, objects, paintings, drawings, or representations of an obscene or immoral character.
  • Precious metals – Any goods in whole or part made with Gold, silver, or other precious metals or alloys, and the stamp, mark, or brand doesn’t indicate the actual fineness of the quality of the metals or alloys.
  • Flammable materials – Includes fire extinguisher, lighter, fireworks, firecrackers, batteries, charger.
  • Written or printed goods that include written or printed goods that advocate or incite treason, rebellion, insurrection, sedition against the Philippine government, or forcible resistance to the law of the country. Also includes threats or harm upon any person in the Philippines.
  • Ceramic tableware
  • Gasoline-operated machines
  • Misbranded goods or foods
  • Toxic chemicals, paints, lubricants
  • Automobile (either in parts or whole)
  • Grasscutter, Katana, welding machines
  • Water pump, air compressor
  • Pets or animal food (dog food, cat food, etc.)
  • Plants, seed, soil
  • Perishable goods (rice, meat, fruits (unless canned)

Restricted Importation

Some items have restrictions on importations. These are restricted except when authorized by law or regulation:

  • Dynamite, gunpowder, ammunition, explosives, firearms, weapons of war, or parts
  • Gambling items such as roulette wheels, marked cards, gambling or pinball machines, etc.
  • Lottery or sweepstakes tickets except for advertisements
  • Narcotic or synthetic drugs such as marijuana, opium, poppies, heroin, except when imported by the government or any authorized person by the Dangerous Drugs Board
  • Weapons of mass destruction
  • Toxic or hazardous goods

Note that sending prohibited or restricted goods, sending regulated goods in excess of the allowable limit without the necessary import permit, and making false or misleading statements to a Customs Officer will be subject to forfeiture of goods, penalties, and criminal prosecution. Make sure to be truthful when filling out a Balikbayan Information Sheet [link].

Required documents to send a balikbayan box

  • Original or photocopy of Philippine passport pages containing your personal information, photo, and signature.
  • For dual citizens without a Philippine passport, a copy of your foreign passport with personal information, photo, and signature, as well as proof of dual citizenship.
  • BOC information sheet
  • Receipt of valuable goods

Is everyone allowed to send balikbayan boxes?

Everyone can send Balikbayan Boxes to the Philippines, but only Qualified Filipinos can avail of tax and duty-free privileges. Qualified Filipinos include:

  • Resident Filipinos (Filipino citizens who are abroad temporarily)
  • Non-Resident Filipinos (Filipinos with permanent residency abroad)
  • Overseas Filipino Workers / OFWs (Filipinos employed overseas)

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is Gold allowed in balikbayan boxes?

OFWs cannot put several banned items, including any item containing/purely made of Gold, silver, or other precious metals, with no stamp indicating the fineness of the quality of the metals or alloys used.

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For the updated list of prohibited and restricted items, please follow BOC’s official website and social media pages.

Have you tried sending a balikbayan box recently? How was your experience? Share it with us via the comment section below!

Source: Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Customs – Balikbayan Information Sheet

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Also read: Stupid Things You Should Not Bring On Board.

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