Shipping your things to the Philippines, moving within the Philippines

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Packing for the Philippines

Packing for the Philippines – Plattsburgh New York

We moved to the Philippines from Upstate New York.  We packed all our things in big cardboard shipping boxes (balikbayan boxes) and smaller file storage boxes, both of which we bought at our local Sam’s Club.  We shipped a lot of books.  If you have specific reading preferences, bring the books with you.  Except in Manila, finding the books you want is difficult and prices are high.  We used file storage boxes for books because a big balikbayan box filled with books is just to heavy to handle.
We hired a rental truck to take the boxes to Albany where they were packed into a 20′ container.  The container went from Albany, New York to a friend’s house on Bohol Island in the Philippines.  Once we decided we would stay in Iloilo City, we had to find a firm to pack and ship our things from Bohol to Iloilo City.

At the recommendation of our landlord, we used Fast Cargo (and associated Fast Pak) to move our things from Bohol to Iloilo City. We were very satisfied with their services. They built wooden shipping containers for fragile items.  During our entire move from New York to Iloilo only two small things were broken and that’s because we had not packed those items very well.  Their Iloilo offices are in Lapuz Norte. Phone 033-336-4207.  Check your local phone book for offices near you

Our things arrive in Iloilo City

Our things arrive in Iloilo City

There are differing opinions about what you should ship to the Philippines and what you should leave at home.  One school says just bring a few personal things such as family photos and buy everything in the Philippines.  Others want to take furniture, appliances and almost all else.  If you don’t have a prearranged place to live or store your things in the Philippines, shipping a container is problematic.

Here’s a few of our thoughts.  If you’re going to ship a container, bring as much as you can.  Big ticket items such as flat screen TVs are much more expensive here.  Good exercise equipment such as treadmills are also expensive.  Beautiful furniture is available in the Philippines, but if you’re shipping a container, bring it with you.  Quality kitchenware is hard to find.  Computer equipment and cameras cost as much as twice as much in the Philippines as in the USA.  Bring quality bath towels and bed linen.  Don’t bring your 110v refrigerator, dryer, toaster.  You can operate these off of a step-down transformer but that that will waste more energy than you’ll save.  Lesser used appliances like food processors can be used with step-down transformers but if you (or your maid) slip just once and plug it into a 220v outlet, the appliance will be damaged.
If you’re an audiophile, be sure to bring your speakers.  In the Philippines outside of Manila, selection is limited and prices are high.

Comments (27)

  1. do the tax the heck out of travel trailers in the Philippines also?

    if I used my travel trailer as a uhaul for my furniture, towed it to port, I would think it might be easier all the way around.

    • Mike,

      I have not seen travel trailers in the Philippines. Are you saying that you’d like to take a travel trailer to a U.S. port and load it on a ship going to the Philippines?


  2. I would like to build a precast cement house with a flat cement cast roof. it will be done in Jaro Leyete, am I better off building my own molds and have hired help pour the pieces, or can I get a company to do it better? I will do my own electric and plumbing so I know what quality I have. the cast idea would be in 4ft by 10 ft sections, and 4foot by 16foot for the roof. surely I would have to find a boom truck to hire to pick up the pieces. sound okay or way out there? thanks

    • Mike,

      I expect that using precast would cost more than just building a concrete house. Except perhaps in the big cities, finding workers skilled in precast and equipment would be much more difficult and expensive.


  3. if I bought my own container and packed it at my house would anyone go snooping in it along its travel to the Phils,. I guess I wonder if what I ship in a container door to door will be opened on the way or will it stay like I pack it?
    I could use the container once there as we plan to feed hungry kids in the province. On the other hand I think of the cost of a container and shipping it there, that money could buy a lot of furniture once we get there. I want American standard stuff so I would like to have my furniture and stuff but then one starts figuring if its worth it versus the cost. what do u think? thanks a lot!

    • Your container is definitely subject to inspection and customs duties and hassles. The inspection could be just opening and peeking in or something more thorough. If you can take advantage of a customs exemption such as with the SRRV retirement visa, shipping your stuff can be a good alternative to selling all your stuff in the USA and buying all new in the Philippines. See It really depends on the extent and value of your possessions.

    • Would like to share our experienced in shipping household stuffs from united states to Philippines.we shipped all our household stuffs from furnitures,appliances,power tools,everything inside of the house the only thing we did not shipped was the car.anyway,it cost us $12,000 that is a door to door shipment no hassle in 2 months we got all our household stuff from united states to Cagayan de oro, included everything taxes,insurances,and all the fees,the company we hired packed and sealed all our appliances we bought some more from home depot like ceiling fans,garbage disposals,light fixtures,bath and kitchen faucets ,like MikeJane my husband wants a good quality from here,before we shipped our household we made a lot of study and inquiries and shops in Philippines,they are very expensive and mostly a piece of junk.if you want to buy a good quality yes you can get it in manila 3 times more from the price here in states,they will tell you that they are imported from states,lol.

      I been reading this thread for awhile,wants to get an idea of building a house in Philippines,we are still debating in our minds what to do to hire an engineer to do all the job..thanks for the information so very helpful…

  4. I have decided not to bring a complete container from New Jersey to Iloilo. Rather I am entertaining going palletized. I want to bring about 35 boxes. I will arrive on a tourist visa and do plan on marrying my fiancee as soon as possible. My plan is to ship the boxes to her father’s address in Iloilo Santa Barbara. I am sure customs has dealt with this scenario in the past. What are my problems I can expect? Is this even legal? Thanks Tom

    • Tom,

      I would not innovate. With palletized, I’d worry about pilferage. For 35 boxes, ship via balikbayan box through Forex or Manila Forwarders or another reputable shipper. Then there is no duty and no hasssle, no weight limits. Shipping that many boxes you can haggle for a discount, free boxes. It will cost $50 to $100 per box depending on where you are shipping from — east coast more, west coast less. Does your GFs father have a secure dry place to store the boxes? Just my thoughts. Good luck! Santa Barbara is a great location.

      Bob and Carol

  5. HI..bob and carol,
    it’s good to hear from you after a few months of absence..we’ll i’m still here in fla. right now,i’m looking for a good estimate on a 20′ cargo container..if you can remember what was the name of your shipping comp. that you used for your relocation? i saw a website that’s based on n.y and one here in miami.fla. miami based said they will leave the container in your front yard for you to load in your already packedbelongings which i think is a very good idea..also, why did you chose bohol as your port and not cebu (your friend lives in bohol) or the ports of choice is limited?? and how many days did it actually arrive in bohol? did the customs “hold” your stuffs for more than a couple of days? did you get duty and tax free coz your on srrv? thank you very much…vivien

    • A friend and I shared a container. It went to Bohol because my friend already had a house there and we did not know where we would end up. Our friend made the shipping arrangement. He used a moving company which provided door-to-door services. I don’t know all the details, but there were hassles with customs in Manila. If all worked out OK in the end. Two reliable shippers are Manila Forwarders and Forex

  6. I have considered buying a shipping container to ship all my things to Cagayan de Oro from Ohio. I have lots of power tools, hand tools, automotive tools, as well as a full house of stuff and books.

    Any idea how much it might cost me?

    Thank you in advance


    • I’d encourage you to ship your stuff. I don’t know about buying your own container. Most use a container provided by the shipping company. We shared a 20′ container with a friend. It cost about $6,000 but that was a deluxe service, door to door –Albany NY to Bohol. I have heard lower prices. You’ll have some hassle/expense at Manila customs. I wish we had shipped our own container with furniture and household goods. Oh, I wish I’d shipped my table saw!

  7. I am living in Ilocos Norte…about 90 kliks east of Laoag, I need to move a motorcycle down to Manila…do you know of any inexpernsive freigting methods?

    Once in Manila, I need to send my small Kia car, and the moto to Leyte…again, I’m wondering if one can book straight thru on a roro ferry, or do you have to meet ferry in Cebu and transfer to another ferry?



  8. i would like to ship my 2008 lamborghini lp640 replica from los angeles to manila. is there anybody outhere knows a realy goog dependable broker?thanks kabayan.

  9. Val just be carefull. I have traveled there for years and I am moving there. He is my expeirence. You can ask one person who seems like an expert. Then you get there and find the story is completly different.
    This is a country that is fighting almost every known terrorist group. They don’t like people with guns. I would strongly recomend you not try to bring them there.

  10. Hello. Does anyone have the name and number for the container shipping companies? I will be moving from NYC to Manila.

    I also have a hdtv. Should I bring it?


  11. ok,
    Thats is more helpful thanks,i can get a papers from philipines police authorities..
    So my stuff would be shipped directly to a contact or friend of mine…
    Yes the parts are mostly a new and never been fired,a demiled guns,no licence recquired in usa to have a parts as long its not a guns..

  12. Val,
    Just want to be sure that I understand what you mean when you say about your items being “legal and registered”. I’m guessing you mean they the legal and registered under U.S. law? You understand that such registration may have no applicability in the Philippines or anywhere else outside the U.S.

    Regarding tools and other smaller items, they can be shipped in “balikbayan boxes”. They are large, flat rate cardboard boxes which are shipped by sea for the U.S. to the Philippines for about $100. There is no limit on the weight of the packed box. Most Asian food stores can sell you an empty balikbayan box and handle the shipping for you once you’ve filled the box. You can send the boxes to yourself in the Philippines before you leave the U.S. Of course you’ll need an address in the Philippines to ship them to. Hope this helps.


  13. You talked about illegal stuff,
    I talk about legal and a registered items thats i want to transport them..
    I was informed by philipines port authorities thats those gun parts items must be registered in order to send them there…
    What about tools,how to shipping them??

  14. Val,

    I’m no expert on guns in the Philippines. However I do know that the importation and ownership of guns and other dangerous devices is strictly regulated and should be approached with special caution by the foreigner. You can start by reading Presidential Degree 1866 (PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1866 – CODIFYING THE LAWS ON ILLEGAL/UNLAWFUL POSSESSION, MANUFACTURE, DEALING IN, ACQUISITION OR DISPOSITION, OF FIREARMS, AMMUNITION OR EXPLOSIVES OR INSTRUMENTS USED IN THE MANUFACTURE OF FIREARMS, AMMUNITION OR EXPLOSIVES, AND IMPOSING STIFFER PENALTIES FOR CERTAIN VIOLATIONS THEREOF AND FOR RELEVANT PURPOSES)


  15. Hello,
    Is there anyway how to transport a gun parts or firearms parts to philipines??
    I dont want to retaliate with my parts if i gonna leave usa….
    Please provide more information on this topic particulary,i have a 3 models of gun parts an assault rifle,submachine gun and a basicly a post war ww walther p1 pistol parts…
    I know there must be a way how to bring those parts,all parts not have a reciever but they have a magazines set..
    It probably necessary to filled up some aplications but thats not a problem,all parts not been used at all their condition mostly new or been just stored for long without shooting…
    What kind of papers must be signed when shipping those parts in container????
    From areas like new york or new jersey to metro manila or quezon city??
    And please explain a details conserning about recieving all items in philipines….

  16. i=we r moving from new jersey to manila ,i m looking

    moving company , plz, contatc me

    asap, looking forword from u

    john memon

  17. Natie,

    Thanks for your kind comments. We have a lot in common. I have a doctor at Presbyterian — the New York Neurological Institute. We live so close to Villa. We get our bottled water from Dulonan, shop at the Villa public market and I frequently hop a jeepney from Molo to Villa plaza for my morning walks. I’m going to post some Villa photos when I get time.

    We have no medical insurance except for PhilHealth. In a few months Bob will turn 65 and so qualify for Medicare in the US. That lets him return to the US if it’s an illness and timing that allows for travel. We are also on our own for prescription drugs.

    Of course, routine care is so affordable in Iloilo. Even major surgery can be affordable here. Carol’s sister had ovarian cyst surgery at St. Luke’s in Manila. The total cost was about P70,000. If she had been a foreigner it would have cost more but still affordable for most. It’s critical that any foreigner come to the Philippines with a reserve for medical and other emergencies.

    Some foreigners do have US medical insurance which is accepted by a few hospitals here. Asian Hospital in Alabang (Manila) receives good reports in this regard. I understand that it is part owned by the same group as Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok. Bumrungrad focuses on medical tourists.

    We hope you’ll get in touch next time you come. Bob and Carol

  18. Dear Bob..your site is one i could spend hours and hours on. I’m an Iloilo expat whos has lived in the eastcoast, tristate area for 30 years now. I used to live in Manhattan, Rockland County, and now have downsized to a 2 bedroom condo in Little Ferry,NJ, 15 minutes from NYC Presbyterian Hospital, where i have worked for many years now. I also plan to retire in Iloilo in a few years now–maybe to be deferred due to the economic downturn. Hopefully, we’d recover sooner.

    I will be frequenting your site for tips. My retirement home is already complete, in Dulonan, Arevalo. It is next door to my sister, who never left the country, inspite of her Bachelor’s in Nursing. I go home every year now to appreciate what I have worked hard for.

    I have been looking at your pictures, and they are so lovely. So is your wife.

    Pls share with us the progress of your home. I appreciate all your posts, esp on healthcare. Do you have reimbursement from your HMO? That is my primary concern. It is not cheap if one gets seriously ill in the Philippines.

    Well, i’ll be a frequent guest here. God speed, Bob and pretty lady!!

  19. Our container was about $6000.00 door-to-door. This included packing and is from a relatively small eastern NY shipping point to a small place in Bohol. I’ve seen reports of lower prices, say half as much. Part depends on where you are shipping from and to. For example, a container from LA to Manila would certainly be a lot less. On the other hand, shipping rates are going up with the cost of fuel.

    I have a Special Resident Retiree Visa (SRRV). That type of visa and the 13a permanent resident give a duty free allowance of $7,000. I don’t have information on duty charged to balikbayans. Balikbayan do qualify for the SRRV. See Remember that you can ship your stuff by balikbayan box and not be charged duty.

    Duty on vehicles is so high that practically no one ships them. Reports I’ve heard are of 100% of the market of the vehicle.

    I have not yet posted about Miagao but I plan to. I thinks it’s one of the best small towns in the Philippines. If Dumaguete is too big for you, take a look at Miagao. It’s on the ocean, it’s a major college town, it has a World Heritage Site landmark church at its center, it has a beautiful, clean public market, it has many of the basic services one needs, its streets are clean and well-maintained. It’s far enough but not too far from the shopping and medical services of Iloilo City.

  20. I grew-up in Miagao. Not ready to retire yet. If you don’t mind, how much do they charge for a 20′ container? How about custom duties/taxes? Did you bring your car or SUV too?

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