Important Things To Consider When Packing Containers For International Shipping



Other things being equal, the operational efficiencies shippers can achieve when selecting shipping containers and packing cargo, can make or break their bottom lines. Some of the critical issues shippers need to pay attention to include:

The Right Type of Container:

Shipping containers come in various types to accommodate different types of cargo. The most common type of container is the dry storage container used to transport dry goods. However, since they do not allow temperature control, you cannot use them to transport food, chemicals, medicines, or other perishable items that need refrigeration.

There are other types like flat rack, open top, open side, and even half-height containers. The containers are available in lengths of 20, 40, and 45 feet. According to Shipping and Freight Resource, a 20-foot container can carry 33.50 m³ of cargo with a maximum weight of 21.75 tons; however, even though a 40-foot container can accommodate 67.70 m³ of cargo, the maximum permissible weight rises marginally to 26.70 tons. You will need a food-grade container for shipping food items.

Container Condition

The condition of the container is of vital importance for ensuring the safety of your goods. A container in poor condition is likely to result in damage resulting in claims and losses. While you have every right to expect that the container provided by the shipping line is sound, clean, dry, and fit for carrying cargo, the transporter must also ensure that the container is in good condition. When you book container, it must be clean and dry, free of smell and stains, without any holes, and the door shuts tight with the lock rods closing properly.

Use Containers of the Correct Shipping Line

If you book several containers daily, it is easy to get mixed up, especially when they come from different shipping lines. Packing cargo in the wrong container can result in it going to the wrong destination on the wrong shipping line. It is important to keep a close eye on the containers because the same leasing company may lease containers to different shipping lines, and the prefixes may be identical. If you are confused, you may pack cargo in a container of one line for a destination it does not service.

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Getting the documentation right is critical for safe and timely delivery. It is important to check if the cargo requires special permits for loading or discharging or if it is permitted discharge at the intended destination. The shipper will be held liable for mistakes by the shipping line, and the cargo may be abandoned at the destination. You may need a special declaration for dangerous goods. The packing list must be correct and list the proper weights. Out of Gauge (OOG), Cargo requires OOG transport permits, escorts, etc., to be in place. Improper or incorrect documentation may require unpacking/repacking that can prove expensive, and result in delayed shipping.


Container shipping is full of pitfalls that can put inexperienced shippers into trouble. In addition to taking care of all the above issues, you also need to ensure proper packing of the cargo in the container to minimize cargo damage and maximize cargo volume.

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