Frequently Asked Questions About Balikbayan Boxes

What is a balikbayan box?

The term “balikbayan” (pronounced bah’-lick-beye’-yahn) refers to native Filipinos who have taken up residence in foreign countries.

Balikbayan boxes are the “care packages” that Filipino expatriates send to family members and friends back in their Philippines homeland.

When and where does Padyaks pick up balikbayan boxes?

We usually pick up balikbayan boxes once every month, usually the second weekend of each month. Currently, our route takes us from the Chicago area down through Central Indiana and Central/Southwest Ohio and into Northern Kentucky. Occasionally, with special planning, we will accommodate customers in far Southeast Ohio and Southern Illinois.

See our Balikbayan Cargo page for more information.

Occasionally our scheduled trips may be postponed or moved to a new date. Be sure to check this website for announcements if you’re planning to request a balikbayan box pickup.

Where can I get an empty balikbayan box? Can I use any empty box?

If you reside in Central Indiana or Southwest Ohio, call or email us at Padyaks. For $6 per Large (standard-sized) Box, or $8 for the larger Jumbo Box, if we’re traveling through your area, we’ll be happy to drop off that first empty box or two during one of our monthly trips. Plus, each time you ship a box with us, we’ll give you a FREE replacement Large or Jumbo box.

Balikbayan shippers require the use of boxes that are of specific dimensions – boxes that are also more durable than those found in most stores. LIPS boxes are made of a true “double-wall” construction. Most boxes found in retail stores are made of “single-wall” construction. DO NOT USE THESE – they have a much higher risk of breaking open during the long trek to the Philippines.

In some large urban areas, such as Chicago, empty balikbayan boxes can be purchased at Filipino stores or at the cargo shippers’ offices and loading facilities. In Ohio, standard-sized boxes can often be found at Cam’s International Market stores in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

Got a box from a competitor? As long as it’s close to the LIPS Mighty box size (19″x 17½”x 28½”) or the Mega box size (25″x 17½”x 28½”), we’ll gladly accept it. And, if you ship it with us, we’ll replace it, FREE!

My box is ready to send. Can I drop it off somewhere?

Why work up a sweat trying to lift your 100-plus-pound box into your vehicle, then drive an hour or two to another city to ship your box? Think of your cost of time, gas and, in some places, toll charges.

If you reside in Central Indiana or Southwest Ohio and your box is ready to ship, contact us at Padyaks and we will arrange to pick it up at your door during one of our monthly trips to your area.

If you’re in the southern Chicago area, save yourself the hassle and let us do the work of hauling your box.  Or, you can drop off boxes at the new LIPS warehouse, located at 1503 Carmen Drive, Elk Grove Village, Illinois.

Why should I ship with Padyaks and LIPS, instead of some other company?

  • At Padyaks, we provide friendly, door-to-door service as an agent for LIPS, one of the best locally-owned balikbayan shipping companies in the U.S.
  • LIPS provides two sizes of balikbayan boxes.
  • Not only is LIPS fully licensed, they provide bar-code tracking for each box you send.
  • LIPS provides local delivery to all destinations in the Philippines…even to remote islands.
  • We are competitively priced, AND we pick up parcels at your door for no extra charge.
  • Contact us and we’ll give you some other good reasons to ship with us.

What happens to my box once you pick it up?

Once we pick up your balikbayan box, we deliver it to the LIPS loading facility near Chicago, usually within the next 1-3 days, where it is loaded into a container for international shipping.

Each container is sealed and sent by rail to one of the coastal ports in the U.S., from where it will go by ship to the Philippines.

Once the container has passed through customs in Manila or Cebu, the container is unsealed and your box is unloaded. It is then delivered by truck or van to its final destination.

How long will it take for my box to reach the Philippines?

While no company can guarantee shipping times to the Philippines, currently LIPS boxes are regularly reaching their destinations in about 10 to 12 weeks.

Is there a weight limit for each box?

At this time, there is no specific weight restriction per individual balikbayan box.

We generally go by a common-sense rule: if two adults cannot lift the box, it doesn’t ship. If a box is THAT heavy, it is overloaded and has a much greater chance of breaking open before it reaches its destination.

How big is a LIPS box?

The Mighty Box – the standard-sized LIPS balikbayan box measures approximately 19 inches wide, 16½ inches high and 28 inches long. This means it would be possible to load nearly 450 LIPS balikbayan boxes into a single 40-foot cargo container.

The Mega Box – measures 24½” by 23½” by 17½”.

Does LIPS provide tracking information for my box?

Yes. If you fill out a manual paper shipping form, the receipt number at the top right of the form becomes your tracking number.

We encourage senders to use LIPS’ online shipping form. It allows you to enter all your address information (both sender and recipient) into LIPS’ database. The link for that is found on our home page, or you can click here: LIPS Online Shipping Form.

When you want to track your parcel, go to the “Track my shipment here” link on our home page, or follow this link to the LIPS tracking system: LIPS Online Tracking.

Then enter BK followed by the Booing Number sent to you by LIPS if you filled out an online shipping form, or the number on your paper LIPS shipping receipt.

What items can I pack into a balikbayan box? Are there items that are NOT ALLOWED?

Most often, balikbayans pack clothing, packaged foods, toiletries and small appliances. Be sure to read the next section below for tips on how to pack these items.

At the official Philippines Department of Trade and Industry website, you can find a complete list of items that may NOT be imported into that country.

Generally, use common sense. If it can explode, catch fire, break or leak harmful liquid or gas, it cannot ship. DO NOT attempt to ship firearms, illegal drugs, currency, travelers checks, jewelry, pirated products or pornography.

How should I pack, seal and label my box?

We encourage senders to use LIPS’ online shipping form. It allows you to enter all your address information (both sender and recipient) into LIPS’ database. The link for that is found on our home page, or you can click here: LIPS Online Shipping Form.

Once you’ve entered all the shipping information, press the “submit” button” to enter the information into LIPS’ online tracking system. You will also be sent automatically via e-mail or text message a .pdf file, from which you can print out an address label containing a barcode. Tape this label to your box with clear tape and the box is then ready for shipping!

MARKER – To label your box manually, use a black permanent marker, with a medium to large tip. Avoid “fine point” markers and ball point pens. The information you write needs to be bold and easy to read.

ADDRESS – Write both the sender’s and the receiver’s complete address on the box. It must be a residential or business address at which the box can be physically delivered.

Also, senders are now REQUIRED to list on the box a phone number (cell or landline) where the receiver can be reached. It’s also a good idea to write all address information on at least two different sides of the box.

TAPE – Avoid using gray duct tape – it doesn’t stick to cardboard very well.  DO NOT USE masking tape. Tape the bottom and top flaps of the box shut by using clear packing tape. We strongly recommend taping all top and bottom corners where the flaps could be accidentally lifted. Some senders will tape over all surfaces of a box. That’s usually not necessary. Regardless, it’s a good idea to label your box before putting on the tape. If you use brown or other non-clear tape, don’t cover up the address information.  For extra strength, LIPS’ warehouse staff attaches plastic bands to each box prior to loading onto the shipping container.

BEFORE LOADING – Place a heavy-duty plastic garbage bag or a layer of bubble pack on the bottom of the box before putting in the contents. It’ll provide an extra layer of protection against possible dampness while your box is being delivered in the Philippines, especially during the rainy season.

LIQUIDS – Tape tops of all shampoos, conditioners, lotions, perfumes, and other plastic or glass containers that contain liquids. It’s a good idea to also put those items in separate, sealed plastic bags so they will not damage other items in the box if there is a leak.

PERISHABLE ITEMS – Do not send perishable items.  Fresh fruits, meat and other products that need refrigeration will spoil long before they could reach the receiver.

BREAKABLE ITEMS – Foods packaged in glass jars, along with glassware and plastic items not in their original manufacturer’s packaging are shipped “at risk.”  If you attempt to ship such items and you don’t have the original protective packaging, try wrapping each individual item in THICK layers of newspaper (it’s better and cheaper than bubble wrap). Then surround those items with soft material, such as clothing, bedding or towels, and place them in the CENTER of the box (not on the bottom).

TOYS and BATTERIES – Remove batteries from toys and remote controls before packing.

ELECTRIC APPLIANCES – Tape up the plugs of small electronic items that operate only on 110 volts, and include a note to remind the receiver to not immediately plug in that item. Philippines outlets are usually 220 volts.

WEIGHT – For easy and safe handling, do not over- or under-pack the boxes. We recommend that boxes be completely filled, so that nothing can roll around loose inside.

How much does it cost to send a box to the Philippines?

See our Shipping Rates page for more information.

Is my box insured?

Each balikbayan box shipped via LIPS is insured for $200. For improved tracking and security, LIPS places barcodes on all boxes, and drivers in the Philippines photograph each delivered box. In the rare event a box is lost (although cargo containers rarely all off ships), the insurance amount would be paid in that situation.

Contents, on the other hand, are shipped “at risk” and are not covered by insurance for damage.

Why is it important that LIPS is a fully-licensed shipper?

LIPS is licensed by the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission as an Ocean Freight Forwarder. Only a small handful of balikbayan shipping companies in the Midwest have applied for and obtained such licensing. There are many shippers that are not in compliance — be sure to check if you choose to contact one of them.

In addition to filing application forms and subjecting their office and warehouse facilities to random inspections by the federal government, a licensed shipper must also place a sizeable amount of money into an insurance bond. You can be assured that a company that has taken these steps will do everything possible to make sure your cargo is secure and that it will arrive at the intended destination in a reasonable amount of time.

On your website, I see the names Padyaks and LIPS. Are these two separate companies?

Yes. Padyaks began as an online retail store, first opened in 2009 by Jeff and Sherry Powell. Handling balikbayan boxes for shipment to the Philippines is a service we offer through our store.

LIPS (Logistics International Parcel Shipping) is the company that actually loads and ships cargo containers to the Philippines. They are located near Chicago.

Padyaks is a signatory agent for LIPS and operates as an “intermediary” shipper, transporting your boxes from your door to the Makati warehouse and loading dock.

Got other questions? Send us your inquiries or schedule a balikbayan box pickup at