How to Send Balikbayan Boxes from Sydney to Manila

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) love to send these so called Balikbayan Boxes to their loved ones in the Philippines specially during the holidays.  It's basically like any other large box that you see in any shipping outlets around the world. It usually contains gifts like clothes, shoes, chocolates, etc. Why do they prefer using the balikbayan box? Because it's cheaper. Period.

Before flying to Sydney my game plan was to bring all the basic stuff so that I won't have the urge to go shopping for the coming months (I stayed from June til end of November). I even made a list of what items to bring for long term travel. But of course, it's quite impossible not to shop when you're abroad. Even if it's expensive in Australia, I did a little shopping. Mostly shoes. If you're a traveler, you know that shoes are probably one of the hardest thing to pack together with a ton of clothes.

Around 2 weeks before my flight to Manila, I struggled so hard to figure out how to bring all my stuff back home. I didn't want to leave anything behind because A) I'm just a couch surfer in my aunt's home B) I'm not exactly sure when I'm coming back to Australia  and C) I'm coming home for the holidays so I want to bring home all the gifts I bought for my family and friends.

Moving on, I flew with Cebu Pacific for my SYD-MNL flight and maximized the 40kgs limit of my luggage. To be honest, 40kgs wasn't enough thanks to my heavy and bulky winter clothes. My last remaining option was to send all the not so important stuff through a balikbayan box. There were a lot of courier companies but I chose to send my box with LBC Express.

According to the website, there are 9 LBC branches in New South Wales.

Since I was based in Penrith (Western Sydney), the nearest branch to me was the one in Blacktown. A large balikbayan box from LBC costs AUD10.00 and they're usually available in local Filipino stores. Once you filled up the box, all you have to do is contact LBC and request for pickup. According to the LBC courier that picked up my box, packages leave Australia every Wednesdays and Fridays. Here are the shipping rates as of November 2015:
  1. Sea Freight - Original rate is AUD80.00 but if you use an LBC box you'll just need to pay AUD70.00. There's no weight limit if you're sending the box via sea freight and it takes a minimum of 40 working days (exclude weekends and holidays) or even more (thanks to the congestion in our ports).
  2. Air Freight - Rate starts between AUD5-6.00 per kg and the minimum weight of the box must be 20kgs and above. Packages arrive in 7 working days. Take note that they don't ship boxes on a daily basis, planes fly out every Wednesdays and Fridays (according to the LBC courier that picked up my box).
The box that I sent, containing mostly my winter clothes, shoes and even pillows (LOL) weighed 25kgs. Since I have extra Australian dollars left I chose to send my box via air freight and paid a total of AUD122.50 (approximately ₱4,190.00). That's obviously cheaper than paying the CebuPac rate of ₱800.00 per kg for excess baggage upon check-in.

They picked up my box on November 21, 2015 and arrived in Manila on November 27, 2015. Here's the most important questions of all: Did I pay any customs tax? Luckily, NO. Why? Probably because my items were rightfully declared and it did not contain any expensive stuff like branded items or electronics. Trust me, it's better to hand carry expensive items than placing them inside a balikbayan box.