List of Taxable Items in a Balikbayan Box

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Are you planning to surprise your families and loved ones in the Philippines by sending them balikbayan boxes? If you are, it is essential to understand that some items may incur additional fees to prepare your budget beforehand. In addition, you should comply with some conditions when sending balikbayan boxes to prevent tax charges. With that said, read on to find out the taxable items in a balikbayan box for sea and air cargo and the conditions to avail of tax-free.

Also Read: How to Track Balikbayan Box Cargo Delivery Online

There are different kinds of goods Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and migrant workers put in a balikbayan box, ranging from toys, foodstuff, medicines, and cosmetics to shoes, apparel, gadgets, and electronics. Although the Bureau of Customs (BOC) does not limit sending of allowed goods, taxes apply for some items, like luxury bags, mobile phones, laptops, and appliances.

Taxes also apply based on some conditions and the chosen shipment method, whether you opted for air or sea cargo.

balikbayan box taxes and taxable items

Taxable Items via Sea Cargo

If you are not in a hurry to send a balikbayan box to the Philippines, you may ship it via sea cargo since it’s tax-free. But note that the delivery duration may take 40 to 60 days if there are no shipment delays or may take longer depending on the season. Moreover, OFWs and migrant workers need to meet some conditions, so they can avail of the balikbayan box privilege, exempting them from paying taxes, including:

  1. The sender is a Qualified Filipino While Abroad (QFWA)
  2. The shipment value should not exceed P150,000 per calendar year
  3. The items in the balikbayan box should not be in commercial value

Thus, you can ship any allowed items for personal use in the balikbayan box tax-free, given you meet the above conditions.

Taxable Items via Air Cargo

On the other hand, shipping balikbayan boxes via air cargo is recommended if you want your package to arrive as soon as possible. With air cargo, a balikbayan box typically arrives around 7 to 10 days. However, sending packages thru air cargo means some items are subject to taxes regardless if you qualify for the balikbayan box privilege. The tax applies to all electronic items, gadgets, and appliances. Here is the list of taxable items via air cargo:

  • CPU
  • Laptop, tablet, iPad
  • Printer 3-in-1
  • Mobile phones (Android, iPhone)
  • DSLR cameras
  • Video cameras
  • Speakers (car/stereo)
  • Home theater
  • LCD Monitor
  • XBOX, Nintendo WII, PS2, PS3
  • Acoustic and electric guitars
  • Keyboard piano
  • 20 to 29-inch Plasma/LCD TV
  • Over 29-inch ordinary TV
  • 32 to 43 inch Led/LCD Smart TV
  • Bread maker
  • Hand grinder
  • Hand mixer
  • Microwave oven
  • Toaster
  • Electric drills

Remember, the items listed above are subject to security and safety laws. The taxes and duties per each item also vary based on their purchased value. Meanwhile, you must present receipts for luxury bags, and each item is subject to tax. You may also check the estimated duties and taxes if you ship your balikbayan boxes to UPS, FedEx, or DHL thru BOC Tax Calculator at

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are balikbayan boxes taxable?

It depends. The taxes depend on the shipment method and some conditions. For instance, if you send packages thru sea cargo, you no longer have to pay taxes if you’re qualified to avail of the balikbayan box privilege, and the items are for personal use. On the contrary, taxes apply to selected items if you ship balikbayan boxes thru air cargo, such as electronics, gadgets, appliances, and other luxury goods, like bags and shoes.

2. What is not allowed in a balikbayan box?

Before you pack balikbayan boxes, keep in mind that there are prohibited and restricted items to avoid putting in your package to prevent it from getting held by customs. This item includes guns, firearms, gunpowder, ammunition, explosives, poisonous/flammable liquids or gas, and any goods that promote rebellion against the Philippine law and its government.

3. Is LBC balikbayan box taxable?

According to BOC, sending a balikbayan box is duty or tax-free if the sender is a Qualified Filipino While Abroad (QFWA). The total shipment value sent within the calendar year should not exceed P150,000. Any excess item is subject to Value Added Tax (VAT), duty, and excise tax. So whether you send a balikbayan box thru LBC or other couriers, this condition applies.

4. How much is the tax for packages in the Philippines?

In the Philippines, the import duty consists of the average duty rate depending on the imported goods value, Sales Tax, or Value Added Tax (VAT), 12% of the total landed cost (TLC). You may check the estimated tax and duties via BOC Tax Calculator at

5. Is perfume allowed in air cargo?

Since perfume falls under hazardous goods, shipping it thru air cargo requires compliance with safety guidelines. If sending perfumes thru air cargo, pack, seal, and label them properly.

6. What are the requirements for the balikbayan box to be exempt from customs duties?

The package should only contain household and personal effects and not in commercial quantities to avail of the tax exemption or balikbayan box privilege. Also, the balikbayan box shipment value should not be over P150,000 per calendar year, and the sender should be a Qualified Filipino While Abroad (QFWA).

7. What items cannot be shipped by air cargo?

If you’re shipping balikbayan boxes via air cargo, don’t put any explosives, flammables (liquids and solids), infectious and toxic items like pesticides, and gases, such as fire extinguishers, aerosol cans, gas lighters, dry ice, and compressed gas.

8. Are batteries allowed in the balikbayan box?

Since batteries are prone to explosion and fire, it’s highly advised not to put mobile phones, gadgets, laptops, and other electronic items in balikbayan boxes.

9. What items are prohibited in sea cargo?

While sending balikbayan boxes thru sea cargo is tax-free given you meet the conditions, don’t put money, illegal medicine, drugs, fireworks, firearms, toy guns, explosives,  exotic leather made from animal skin, arts, antiques, prepaid cards, sim cards, and credit cards.

10. Can the balikbayan box be checked in?

It depends on the airline. For instance, Cebu Pacific Air accepts a check in balikbayan boxes measuring 20x20x20 inches. Also, the balikbayan box should be packed properly, and the passenger availed of the Ceb Prepaid Baggage. However, packages over 39 inches fall under oversized baggage, which means the passenger should pay an additional fee.


To sum up, despite the long shipment duration, sending balikbayan boxes thru sea cargo is ideal to avoid paying duty or tax-free. Nonetheless, taxes apply for electronics, gadgets, appliances, and luxury goods if you send balikbayan boxes via air cargo.

Traditional items, like chocolates, foodstuff, cosmetics, and household products not in commercial quantity are tax-free.

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