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Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) refer to Filipinos that lives and work in another country. Most OFWs move overseas temporarily for work, while their family members remain in the Philippines. While OFWs are abroad, their families attempt to remain in touch with them; they often do this by sending care packages abroad from the Philippines. On the other hand, OFWs also ship packages back to their families in the Philippines with treats and essentials from their country of residence.
In this article, we first discuss OFWs and their importance to the Philippines economy. We then explain the types of care packages OFWs send their loved ones back home and the challenges they face when shipping overseas.
OFWs are considered essential in the national context as their remittances assist in keeping the Philippine economy afloat. In 2019, foreign remittances amounted to a staggering US$33.5 billion and comprised 9.3% of the country’s GDP.
According to the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA), an estimated 1.77 million Filipinos worked abroad in 2020, among whom, women were the majority (59.6%). Most female OFWs work as nannies, caretakers, nurses, and housekeepers. The remittances sent by these OFWs amounted to an estimated 134.77 billion pesos. As a result, many Filippino brands have expanded their operations overseas to cater to this large population working abroad.
Sometimes OFWs are not able to afford the finances or the time to return home regularly. Hence, they express their love towards their families from afar, by sending a care package. These care packages are called balikbayan boxes. OFWs fill these boxes with various items, ranging from eatables to basic necessities. While most of these items are indeed available in the Philippines, overseas workers send them as a means of expressing their affection for their families. Typically, care packages shipped from abroad include the following:
However, when OFWs send these packages to friends and family, they face certain challenges and risks. This section discusses these concerns.
The Philippines, like most other countries, imposes taxes and customs duties on products entering the country, if the total value of th products exceeds a certain limit. Many OFWs have had the unfortunate experience of sending packages abroad, only to have their recipients face extensive paperwork and tax payments in order for these gifts to clear customs. This creates hassle and costs time and money.
Moreover, the time taken for the care package to reach its recipient can be rather long, especially if the OFW chooses a carrier that does not provide express delivery. Each step involved in the shipping process – such as filing paperwork, packaging, transportation, customs clearance, and local delivery to the destination address – takes time. Hence, Filipinos working abroad can only send items that are not required urgently. In some cases, recipients must wait for 3 to 4 months to receive their packages.
The boxes must also be packaged appropriately so that their contents do not incur any damage. The package’s dimensions and weight affects the shipment’s cost; hence, the right packaging is essential to reducing shipping costs. Moreover, there is always the risk of customs officials opening up a package to examine its contents, should they suspect it contains illegal or prohibited items. This may ruin gift wrapping or decorations.
OFWs must ensure that the products in their care packages do not fall under the restricted or prohibited category of goods. Not only will customs authorities confiscate such items, but this may also present legal issues for recipients.
Unfortunately, OFWs also risk losing the contents in their packages once they reach the Philippines. There are unfortunate accounts of items being stolen at local postal services, especially for packages shipped by carriers without tracking or insurance services. Therefore, OFWs looking to send care packages back home should choose a reliable and trusted carrier to ensure these packages are delivered safely.
DHL Express provides tracking and insurance services to anyone looking to send parcels overseas. We also guide our customers on how to send a package to the Philippines to ensure it is packaged properly and obtains clearance at customs quickly.
To learn more about our services, get in touch with our specialists today. Find the nearest DHL Service Points online where you can drop off your packages to be sent to your OFW loved ones abroad, or engage our specialists for help. Altenatively, speak to our Digital Assistants via live chat should you have any questions.