The best type of packaging for your export shipments

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November 21, 2017

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International standards for packaging are typically more stringent than any other type of transportation because shipments are likely going to be handled by a network of logistics and aircraft staff, as well as conveyors. At all times, it is the responsibility of the sender to ensure adequate packaging is utilized for the right type of goods. Different shipment contents and products require different levels of protection so it is essential to determine exactly which type of packaging that you will need.

But first….

What factors affect the type of packaging that you select?

Quality packaging is essential if you are to protect your goods from sustaining any damage. Assessing your packaging needs is a critical step to determine which packaging is best for the type of products that you are transporting. Factors that will affect your package include:

The weight of your goods

The weight of your shipment will affect the strength and the durability of the packaging box that you choose to use. The right size or package or box should be able to securely hold the weight of your goods.

The size and the shape

If you are exporting odd shaped or rounded items, your packaging may need extra attention to ensure that your goods arrive safely. In any case, your items should never touch the outer wall of the box that you choose to use if you want them to arrive safely. Always place the goods being shipped in the center of your package with at least 6cm of separation from any corners or walls.

The form of contents

Obviously, liquids, powders, weapons, and chemicals will require special packing materials and techniques to ensure that they remain intact and to guarantee the safety of the people handling the packages. Food labeling and safety requirements may vary based on the country of export so it is paramount to check all the regulations and extra requirements to avoid future complications.

The value of your contents

If you are exporting valuable items such as electronic, you will also need to ensure that you have extra cushioning to protect your high-value goods. Internal packaging materials that are used safeguard your items include airbags, cardboard and foam pellets, and bubble wrap.

Aside from using the right packaging, you also need to apply special handling labels that indicate the fragility of the item being exported.

The cost

You already know this by now, but it helps to repeat it, just in case: it is silly and false economy to try and cut down your expenses by using sub-standard packaging. Standard options that are available, such as cartons grouped on pallets before being loaded on containers, are the industry standard because they are reliable. You can buy, hire or lease most types of standard packaging so it makes sense to shop around before settling for the most viable option for you and your goods.

The different types of packaging used by exporters

Export packaging is also commonly referred to as transport packaging. The options for packaging vary based on the factors discussed above. The most common types of packaging used by exporters are:

Loose or unpacked packaging

Loose or unpacked options are ideal for large items that cannot be contained in a container or a box such as heavy vehicles. In such cases, these break-bulk goods are typically transported as general cargo instead of being transported in containers. Although this method increases the risk of damage during transit, extra protective materials referred to as dunnage is usually used to enhance protection. Dunnage is placed around the goods to stop them from absorbing moisture and stop them from moving around.


Drums can be made from a range of materials including stainless steel, fiber, continuous cast carbon, and polyethylene. Drums are used commonly for transporting liquids, powders, grains and anything that needs to be kept dry.

Boxes and crates

Boxes and crates are by far the most popular shipping option. Although they are both made from wood, boxes and crates are different from one another. Packing boxes, also called packing cases are solid and covered on all sides. Boxes surround the contents with timber cladding to make sure that your items are fully secured.

Crates, on the other hand, have slated or open sides but have a solid top and bottom, which leaves the contents visible from the sides. Crates are used mostly when your exports need to be inspected, which eliminates the need of having to repackage your items after they have undergone a thorough inspection.


Because containers are practical and easy to pack and move, they are a preferred choice for many exporters. Containers are standardized metal boxes that are designed to withstand the weight of bulky cargo. The goods placed inside a container might still need separate packaging, but containers are ideal because they provide much-needed protection for high-value items such as luxury cars and they increase security levels in case of theft.


Pallets allow smaller boxes and cartons to be arranged or grouped together. Pallets are transported easily using forklift trucks which help to make the process of loading, unloading and warehousing a lot less stressful. Most exporters transporting goods with standard sizes prefer to use pallets because they are reliable and low in cost. If you are going to export anything, your best bet would be to rely on pallets or containers as they are the safest packaging techniques.

Thinking of exporting for the first time? Contact us to learn how Sidoman can help you with your exporting/importing needs.





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