Whether you are living here, or if you have family or friends living here, chances are that you will want to ship something to the Philippines at some point in time. For example, there are lots of times that I order something over the Internet and have it shipped to my US mailing address, then have it forwarded to me here. There are a number of things you need to consider if you send large items here, especially if they are somewhat valuable (let’s say even $50 or so would be considered valuable here).
Let’s look at a few of the issues to consider:
- Theft of the item. If you send something of value through the mail, there is a good chance that it will be stolen before it reaches the recipient. This is unfortunate, but it is true. In a country where the Postal people make a very low salary, sometimes temptation can be hard to avoid. If you send something of value, it just might not make it if you use the Post Office.
- Customs fees. Customs fees can be a killer. I have paid up to 150% of the item value just for customs duties. That occasion was when I ordered some batteries for my digital camera. Total value of the battery was only $10, but the customs fee was $15. I think that between cost of the item, shipping charge and customs I paid about $50 for the battery! Ouch!
- Some things can not be legally shipped here. It’s true, some items cannot legally be sent here, and if they are discovered, they will likely be confiscated! For example, did you know that it is illegal to purchase an airplane ticket abroad and mail it to somebody in the Philippines? Yep, it’s true – airplane tickets for use within the Philippines must be purchased here (not for return flights for those in the middle of transit).
So, what steps can you take to avoid the pitfalls?
- If the value of the item warrants it, use FedEx, UPS or another worldwide courier. At least with these companies there is insurance to cover losses. Also, lost or stolen packages are very rare when using these types of carriers.
- Customs is generally not charged on items that are shipped in through the mail, so if you feel you can trust the mail for your item, use it. Something like Global Priority mail with tracking will make your parcel safer.
- If at all possible, I recommend the use of Balikbayan Boxes for shipping items here. Balikbayan Boxes are large boxes that you can stuff full of items and you pay a single flat rate for shipping. It doesn’t matter what the weight of the package is, it costs the same price to ship it. It goes by sea, so expect about 2 months for delivery. If you are shipping to Manila it will be quicker, maybe 1 month or so. I have never heard of Customs duties being levied on a Balikbayan Box. Generally, my Mother sends Balikbayan boxes to us a couple of times a year to send Christmas Gifts, and any types of supplies that we need here.
So, as you can see, there are ways around the problems of shipping. Just use your common sense, and when you are going to ship something, consider the value and the best way to get it here!
If you want to test out shipping methods, just let me know, I’ll send you a list of everything we want you to send us. I’ll report right back to you how good the shipping method was! 😉