Gifts, Electronics, and Shipping to the Philippines

Filipinos love receiving gifts. Everyone does. It makes us feel valued and appreciated. 

When your Online Filipino Specialist feels appreciated, they are more loyal to you and your company and will work twice as hard to help you succeed. You also get to experience the vicarious thrill of receiving the gift and the feelings of warmth and happiness that come with it. 

However, it’s important to note that buying and sending gifts to the Philippines requires planning and research. You must have the necessary information beforehand to avoid wasting time, effort, and money. 

Most importantly, you need to ensure that you give your Filipino employees a gift that they need or that would be useful for them. 

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know when buying and shipping gifts to the Philippines. 

What Items Are Not Allowed to Ship to the Philippines?

The first thing you need to know when shipping to the Philippines is the dos and don’ts.

What items are you not allowed to ship?

The usual contraband, such as gambling paraphernalia, lottery tickets, and hazardous goods, can be expected to top the list. 

Other items you shouldn’t be sending to the Philippines:

  • Artwork
  • Counterfeit goods such as shoes, clothing, bags, watches, and even burned CDs or DVDs
  • Any material that contains pornographic content 
  • Stocks, bonds, and other negotiable and non-negotiable instruments, including cash letters, bills of exchange, etc. 
  • Cash in any form of currency, regardless of the amount
  • Tobacco
  • Knives and switchblades
  • Antiques, regardless of size, age, or value
  • Both cut and uncut gems
  • Furs and pelts. This includes furs that are already sewn into articles of clothing.
  • Breakable things, especially glass and mirrors
  • Natural and/or cultured pearls
  • Any type of stamps

Is your OFS a coffee lover, and would you like to give them a taste of an exotic coffee variety you’ve been discussing in your chats? 

You can send them your preferred blend; however, note that there are some restrictions to shipping coffee to the Philippines:

  • Do not send more than two plastic bottles worth of coffee beans
  • The bottles must contain no more than 500 grams (approx 17.64  ounces)
  • The coffee beans must not be more than 2 kilograms, either ground or whole

To send more coffee than these limits, you must first secure approval from the FDA in the Philippines.

What Are You Allowed to Ship to the Philippines?

Don’t have an idea yet of what gift to send? 

Googling the answer to this question will bring up one common answer: send them some money. Give your OFS a chance to buy herself stuff that she truly wants. If they’re getting electronics and other valuable items, your OFS buying it directly will have an easier time with warranty claims and exchanges.

But sometimes, sending them money defeats the purpose of gift-giving. So, what items are safe for shipping to the Philippines?

Sending Electronics to the Philippines

Cellphones, tablets, and laptops are the most common gift choices for many Online Filipino Specialists because these are the most practical. 

Your OFS may be using an old laptop for work or need to borrow one from a friend or relative because they can’t afford to buy their own yet. Receiving the latest phone brand or a new laptop relieves them of the mental load of constantly worrying about their equipment. 

But there are some do’s and don’ts for shipping electronics to the Philippines.

First, you need to secure the batteries. Most modern electronics, especially phones, contain lithium-based rechargeable batteries. Lithium can be lethal when not handled properly. Pack the device so any bumps and bounces during transit won’t damage the battery pack. Once a battery pack is damaged, its lithium content may leak out. This is deemed a public hazard as it can cause sparks that can lead to fire. 

There are two main things that you need to do when packing an electronic device for shipping:

Choose the right packaging material

Electronic devices are sold in individual boxes from the manufacturer. Before shipping them out, you must place them inside a bigger box for further protection. Most couriers provide boxes with the right dimensions to fit the requirements for shipping electronic devices. 

Fill up that void

Fillers like bubble wrap, foam, packing peanuts, and air pillows add an extra layer of protection. Make sure to surround the device with enough fillers on all the empty spaces so it doesn’t have space to move around during transit. 

Once your gift is packed and ready, the next step is choosing the right courier.

Which Delivery Companies Ship to the Philippines?

Several delivery companies operate locally around the Philippines. The international courier you sign up with will most likely hand the package over to a local courier once it reaches the country. 

You can sign your package to be delivered by any of the most popular US delivery companies. FedEx, UPS, and USPS all ship to the Philippines. 

Other options for shipping an electronic device to the Philippines include:

  • Stackry
  • Yusen Logistics
  • ShipBob
  • Parcel Monkey

These companies typically do not have local offices in the Philippines, especially in remote areas. FedEx does have a small presence in the country but is mostly limited to the major cities. 

If your OFS lives in a remote area, the shipment will most likely be handed off to a local delivery partner, adding more days to the delivery. 

If you want a faster delivery option, sign up to have your packages delivered via LBC. LBC is the biggest delivery company in the Philippines. Its presence is widespread, and they have offices in almost every barangay (village). They’ve been delivering packages to far-flung, remote areas since the ‘90s. 

LBC has a website where you can check if they deliver directly to your OFS’s location. Then, schedule a pickup for the local courier branch to pick up your package from anywhere and complete the transaction. 

How to Avoid Potential Issues When Sending Packages to the Philippines

When sending an electronic device to the Philippines, you may encounter several issues. Here’s how to avoid them.

Customs Regulations

There has been a lot of debate on whether you still need to pay customs taxes when shipping small items to the Philippines. Here are a few things that you need to take note of:

  • The shipping fee you pay couriers often does not include customs taxes and duties yet. 
  • The customs tax amount will vary based on certain criteria, including the estimated value of the package. 
  • Customs tax may still be imposed even if the package is labeled a gift. 

The best way to get a definite answer is to ask your courier. They should better understand the customs tax’s base or whether it would be charged to your package in the receiving country. 

It’s also possible that this fee would be charged to your OFS once they receive the package, or there may be a different fee that they need to pay. So it’s better to warn them beforehand so they can prepare. 

Shipping Delays

When sending a package anywhere in the world, you must expect shipping delays to occur at any point while in transit. The shipment can be delayed due to extreme weather conditions. In this case, there’s really nothing much you can do but wait for the weather to clear up.

Other reasons for delay can be avoided by taking the necessary precautions beforehand.:

  1. Inaccurate or incomplete shipping information – ask your OFS for their delivery address and check it three, four, or five times to ensure you have the correct information. A more convenient option is to have the package delivered to a courier hub or delivery office closest to your OFS’ location. 
  2. Vehicle or equipment issues—choose a courier with a good history of delivering on time. These couriers probably have their own fleet of vehicles, so they have full control in case one shipment gets delayed due to equipment errors. Check the reviews, not just on the courier’s website but also on sites like Trustpilot and other review websites.  
  3. Insufficient packaging – make sure to follow all the directions on how to pack your item properly 

Once you’ve dropped the item off at the courier’s for shipping, give the tracking number to your OFS immediately. They can then track the package and proactively address any potential delays. 

What Information Should You Give to Your OFS?

If your OFS opted for pick-up instead of delivery, let them know the estimated delivery time and the pickup location address. 

If you’re sending the item via USPS, note that customs may charge a fee before releasing the item. The amount is based on the item’s value as assessed by a customs officer at the local post office. If you could provide the product’s actual value, this would also serve as a basis for how much the tax would be. 

But why should they pay to receive a gift?

Philippine customs do not base their valuation on the purpose of the shipment. This is based either on the invoice or the product’s market value. The fee would include a 12% Value Added Tax plus the item’s customs duty rate. You must also declare the value if the product cost exceeds P10,000 pesos (around USD $200).

What are Balikbayan Boxes and How Do They Work?

If there’s one thing that’s consistently true about Filipino culture, it’s their generosity towards their families. Every Filipino who works abroad sends their love back home to their families through huge boxes of food and other stuff crammed inside 18x16x18-inch boxes. These boxes are lovingly referred to as Balikbayan Boxes (“balikbayan” means coming back home), and every family with an OFW member eagerly awaits their arrival. 

The Balikbayan box can include any of the following items:

  • Canned goods
  • Skincare products that weigh no more than 10kg each
  • Shampoo, bar soap, body wash, and other toiletries that weigh no more than 10kg each
  • Chocolates and candies
  • Cooking oil, sugar, and other commodities
  • Cosmetics, not more than 1kg each
  • Shoes, clothes, bags
  • Tiny trinkets, phones, and computer accessories
  • Household items, even electronic appliances

Basically, anything that can fit into a Balikbayan box will be crammed into it. Electronic devices can also be included in a Balikbayan box but must still be packed properly. The prohibited items mentioned in the previous section also apply to Balikbayan boxes.

What’s in it for you?

If you want to send your OFS useful stuff they can share with their family, the Balikbayan box is the best solution. LBC has several Balikbayan box shapes and sizes listed on its website, which you can use as a reference. 

What Countries Have an Easier Time Shipping to the Philippines?

 Regardless of which country you’re located in, you should still be able to send a gift to your OFS in the Philippines. The only challenge would be to find a courier in your country who has ties to a reliable local courier in the Philippines. 

If it’s too challenging to buy something local in your country and then ship it to the Philippines, try the next best thing: ordering from an online store like Amazon, Lazada, Shoppee, or Zalora. 

These online stores are well-established in the country and offer a wide selection of gift items to give to your OFS. 

Thinking of sending groceries? Check out the local malls in your OFS’ location. 

Most malls and grocery stores now offer grocery delivery services. Take this online grocery store, for example, SM, the biggest shopping mall in the Philippines, owns Shop Suki. You can choose the food and other grocery items you wish to add to your gift package. Add them all to the cart, then hit the checkout button. 

It doesn’t really take much to make your OFS happy. Whether you’re sending them the latest mobile phone or a basket of groceries, they’ll be more than happy to receive it. And then they’ll post about it to their friends, too. 

Giving Your OFS a Brand New Computer as a Gift

Are you thinking of buying a computer for your OFS? They may have mentioned during your chats that their computer is about to give out. Or you just want to let them know that their contributions are valued. 

The question is, what’s the most efficient way for you to buy the computer? The purchase would most definitely have to be done in the Philippines. This is cheaper than having something shipped internationally. 

Based on conversations we’ve had with other employers, the following are the possible options that you can choose from for sending that computer to your OFS:

  1. Buy the computer from an online store and then have it delivered to their home. You can browse online retail stores like Abenson, Lazada, or Shoppee to place an order. Then have the order delivered right to your OFS’ doorstep. 
  2. Send the OFS an electronic gift card. They can then go out to buy the computer themselves. This is advantageous because the OFS can take their time choosing their computer. However, the downside is that not all places accept electronic gift cards. Your OFS may have already been eyeing a computer at a certain store that only accepts cash. 
  3. Send the money directly to the OFS in the same way that you send their salary. This could be through Paymaya, Wise, or direct bank transfer. Just let them know beforehand what the money is for. You may ask them to send proof of purchase, such as photos of the computer, receipts, etc., for proper accounting. 

If your OFS has a credit card, you can also have them charge the computer to the card first. Then, as soon as they send you the receipt, you can reimburse the expense. 

In conclusion, understanding the nuances of sending gifts, along with considerations for shipping regulations and logistics, greatly enhances the experience for your OFS. Knowing that you took all this time to research makes them feel more valued, which helps you foster a stronger working relationship. 

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