Cargo Packing-How to Pack for Import Export Shipment

international import or export freight packingPacking your Cargo

You may need advice when deciding which packing option is best for your particular needs, the first place to start is by asking people with experience in this area, such as a Freight Forwarder ,Customs brokers or your packaging supplier or trade association.
Avoiding damage to your goods is the main purpose of packaging. One of the reasons that containers and pallets have become standardized is that they combine efficiency with excellent cargo protection.

Mode of transport

This may influence your packaging. For example, bulk ocean shipments of liquids, grain and ores don't need any packaging. And goods transported by air generally need less protective packaging than those sent by ship.


It's a false economy to try to cut costs by using sub-standard packaging. The standard options (cartons grouped on pallets and then loaded into containers) have become the standard because they're reliable. Unless your goods require special care, you're unlikely to gain much by opting for above-standard packaging.
You can buy, most types of packaging easily (shrink-wrap, pallets or containers), so it makes sense to shop around with various packing suppliers. You may decide to use custom-made packaging, or hire a packing firm to make sure your goods are packaged correctly, which may work out less expensive.

The major requirements for import or export packaging are

  • Pack contents tightly within the box, or crate. In this way the container wall is given added strength and harmful shifting of merchandise is avoided.
  • Ship large loads whenever possible, as large loads are less likely to be damaged than small ones. 
    Keep goods protected from rain, seawater and moisture.
  • Heavy machinery and odd-shaped items should be boxed or crated and provided with skids for easier handling and storage
  • Select the most advantageous pallet size and style. A four-way entry pallet permits handling from all four sides with a fork or pallet truck, thus facilitating handling. Additionally, the standard size pallet size of 40 inches by 48 inches (1000mm x1200mm) maximizes the volume, which can be loaded into shipping containers.
  • Prepare ferrous surfaces with a rust inhibitor to enable your product to arrive at its destination free from rust or corrosion.
  • Drain holes should be made in the skid or floor area of large containers, boxes or crates. This will allow seawater or condensation to flow out of the container.
  • Do not try to put too much in each container, as the weight might exceed the limitations of the container being used.
  • Ensure weight is distributed evenly within the crate.
  • Marks should be applied with waterproof ink to three surfaces of each package. Cautionary markings should be in English, the language of the country of destination and the international graphic-handling symbol. 
    Protect goods adequately from pilferage.
  • If the cargo is liquid, do not fill containers completely but leave expansion space to allow for variations in temperature. The cargo should be protected from rainwater damage that may occur when air cargo is taken to loading ramps.


You need to take steps to prevent goods being stolen or tampered with .Containerization helps with this and using container seals makes tampering even less likely. Shrink-wrapping and secure straps also act as deterrents. Export or Import packaging should be kept as plain as possible - providing details of the contents, e.g. brand names, encourages theft.

Packing: tips

Consideration to keep in mind when shipping is theft. Theft can be a common problem in some foreign ports. So don’t advertise the contents of your shipping containers with flashy logos or name branding.

Identification marks

Every package in your consignment should be clearly identifiable. Ensure the following details are provided:

  • the country of origin - if necessary, also on the goods themselves
  • destination - the port or other place of destination is sufficient, rather than a full address - check for places with the same name elsewhere in the world and make it clear where goods are destined for
  • seller's name and order number
  • sequential number of each package and the total packages in the consignment, ( 'Package 7 of 20)
  • the size of the case if there are multiple boxes or containers
  • weight and volume
  • special handling instructions
  • hazardous goods
Make sure your markings are clearly visible. Packages may have goods stacked around them so include handling instructions or labels on multiple faces. Packages containing hazardous goods must be clearly marked

Wood packaging requirements

International regulations and wood packaging standards exist to control the spread of forest pests and timber diseases. Restrictions apply to wood packaging certain countries require wood packaging to be marked and accompanied by a wood packaging certificate. In many cases it will be sufficient to check that your wood packaging is ISPM 15 compliant


Your transport insurance cover may be adversely affected if it can be shown that your goods were damaged due to poor packaging