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Freight from the USA

Palletizing in shipping goods from the USA

Most of the time, cargo transporting from the USA overseas needs to be palletized. Palletized and shrink-wrapped cargo, during international transportation, handled by forklifts. So, it reaches destinations without damages and loss.

It may be possible to ship 3-5 shipping items loose. However, if you transport heavy or oversized cargo, it has to be palletized anyway. Click on the picture to watch a video on YouTube about palletizing boxes for shipping from the U.S. abroad.

international shipping of pallets in ocean freight

There are many advantages to palletize your cargo, but some disadvantages too.

Here are the advantages of shipping cargo palletized:

  • Palletized cargo is forkliftable. So, it has a much higher probability to arrive at the destination without damages and loss.
  • All shipping items are kept together. There are no partial losses in shipping palletized cargo.
  • Since it shrink-wrapped, palletized cargo protected from unauthorized opening and thieves, etc.

However, there is some additional freight cost due to "dead volume" in palletized cargo transportations.

Palltize in sea freigt

Even if there are some additional costs associated with the palletization, it is definitely worth it. As a rule, not palletized cargo is not accepted by ocean freight carriers for international shipping from the USA.


Shipping loose boxes

Typically you can ship a few boxes loose. You can ship regular cardboard moving boxes of different sizes. However, if you ship boxes loose, then for extra protection, we recommend heavy-duty cardboard shipping boxes. Order online in advance. We may recommend

Ship boxes overseas

Shipping goods in loose boxes overseas has advantages and disadvantages.

THE ADVANTAGE: There is no adding freight cost due to "dead volume." The total freight cost will be calculated by the summarized volume of single shipping boxes in cubic meters (or cubic feet).

DISADVANTAGES: Shipping many small loose boxes by LCL is NOT a safe way for shipping goods overseas.

If you ship boxes from the U.S. loose, then each box will be handled by hands. There no guarantee that it will be handled with proper care. Boxes can be damaged during international transportation. Loose boxes can be partially lost or misrouted during the delivery from the USA. Separated boxes can be easily stolen.

Please keep in mind that if your cargo contains three to five separate shipping boxes, then you may ask to ship it loose. However, if you are shipping overseas many boxes OR any shipping items exceed 100 lbs, then the ocean freight carrier's terminal (CFS) may refuse to ship the boxes loose. CFS will palletize loose boxes anyway, no matter either you requested to palletize your cargo for the shipping or not.


Shipping overseas palletized cargo.

The dimensions of a standard U.S. pallet used in shipping cargo from the USA is 48"(1.2m) x 40"(1.0m) x 6"(0.15m). Sometimes, loaded with shipping goods, pallets are called "skids."

Whenever cargo's delivering in an ocean freight carrier's terminal (CFS) loose, CFS should palletize loose shipping items into skids. Each skid will fit as many shipping boxes as it can fit. Not recommended to exceed the height of skids more than 60" (1.52m). The height of skids will depend on the strength of shipping boxes, the weight, and sizes. Then skids should be shrink-wrapped and secured by a plastic film.

There is a variety of sizes and forms of pallets used in international cargo transportation from the USA. The essential is that pallets are accessible for handling by forklifts. Bases of pallets should be accessible for pallet-jacks with a minimum clearance of 3.5". Assembled skids have to easily fit into a 40-foot container for further shipping from the USA abroad.

If you self-palletize your shipping items for international transportation, then always pay attention to wood-packing restrictions (ISPM15) that apply to all cargo shipping out of the U.S.

international shipping of pallets in ocean freight

There are many advantages to ship goods overseas palletized besides some disadvantages.

ADVANTAGES: Palletized cargo has a much higher probability of arriving at destinations without damages or losses. Forklifts with proper care easily handle it. Cargo in skids securely fastened together. A partial loss probability is insignificantly small. Palletized cargo is much better protected from unauthorized opening and thefts in each stage of international transportation.

If you self-deliver loose shipping items to a CFS, then the CFS will properly palletize and shrink wrap them. The typical fee for palletizing is $35-50 per pallet, including the cost of a certified pallet provided by CFS. Use the opportunity. Do not palletize your cargo by yourself. Deliver light shipping boxes to CFS and allow professionals to palletize them at the CFS. Besides, that loose shipping boxes are much easy to handle, you will transfer responsibilities on ISPM 15 compliance to the CFS. Then you should not face any problems related to ISPM 15 during the shipping from the USA.

DISADVANTAGES: There some additional freight charges apply due to palletizing.

  1. A palletizing fee: Cost of the pallet(s) and labor;
  2. Added of chargeable volume. "Dead volume."

Please keep in mind that if your cargo needs to be palletized, and at the time of delivery, a CFS's cargo recipient says that he/she is not aware of the palletizing, then do not worry. Most likely, the employee did not yet receive a work order to palletize your cargo.

Do not argue. Just submit your shipping items and ensure that the cargo recipient wrote the number of boxes submitted on the copy of your dock receipt, dated, and signed it. Keep the copy as proof of your delivery.

Upon receipt of a warehouse receipt from the CFS, we'll reconfirm the work order. Your goods will be properly palletized, and we inform you in our update email.


Chargeable volume estimation

After smaller shipping items are palletized in skids, it'll increase the carrier's freight cost. 
The ocean freight carrier will add a fee related to palletizing and shrink-wrapping. Typically the fee varies from $35 to $50 per pallet. The fee includes the cost of the pallet. If you have delivered a lot of boxes, then the carrier can add an hourly labor cost. Costs related to cargo palletization are not included in quotes received in our online freight calculator. These charges will be determined after the palletization is completed, included in the cost of freight, and added to our final invoice. We never markup such charges. You should see the charges' breakdown in the rated carrier's bill of lading.
Regardless of the sizes and forms of your shipping items, the overall chargeable (gross) volume always calculates by LONGEST, WIDEST, AND HIGHEST DIMENSIONS OF YOUR SKID. Look at the pictures to see how it works:
palletizing in LCL international shipping For example: Regardless of the sizes of boxes, a skid with the greatest dimensions, 40 x 50 x 50 inches, is equal to shipping of 1.65 gross cubic meters (or 58 gross cubic feet).

Customers often ask the reasonable question, "How much does it cost to palletize my boxes?" 

The answer is:

A. CFSs typically charges $35-50 per pallet. Depending on a CFS. The fee includes the cost of a certified pallet, plastic film, and labor if there are not too many items to palletize. If there are too many shipping items, then the CFS may charge for the labor hourly.

B. When you roughly estimate the number of pallets needed for your international shipment, then:
  1. Calculate the total volume of your shipping goods with our online freight calculator,
  2. Add 10-30% to the volume, and
  3. divide it by 2 cubic meters.
C. The 10-30% chargeable volume increase is for palletizing shipping items that normally fit the pallet. If there are irregularly sized items, then chargeable volume may increase more.
Please understand, no one can predict the sizes of skids until all your cargo will be palletized. The actual sizes of skids will depend on the sizes and shapes of your shipping items.



  • Wooding-packing restrictions (ISPM15): When palletize your cargo for shipping from the USA overseas using wooden pallets, always keep in mind wood-packing restrictions in international cargo transportation.
  • Addressing and Labeling: Before palletizing your cargo, we recommend labeling all shipping items whenever possible. Remove or erase old shipping labels (if any). It will help to recognize your shipping items in case if skid is broken during the transportation from the USA to the destination country.  
    If you self-palletize, then after the job is done, label two sides of each skid, include in the labels your consigner and consignee's contact info, and (THAT IS VERY IMPORTANT!) YOUR OCEAN FREIGHT CARRIER'S BOOKING NUMBER. In our shipping instructions, you will receive a web link to print your shipping labels.

    DO NOT WRITE ON YOUR SHIPPING BOXES OR PALLETS anything about the commodity inside of your shipping units. You will provide commodity descriptions in your commercial invoices or valued packing lists. Then it will be submitted to your shipment electronically.
  • SIZE AND WEIGHT: If shipping cargo from the U.S. LCL, shipping units should not exceed 2,200 lbs by weight, 70" in height, 119" in length, and 80" in width. Otherwise, such cargo requires approval from the ocean freight carrier before being accepted to international transportation. 
  • SAFETY ON LOADING AND STACKING SHIPPING BOXES INTO SKIDS: At the time of palletizing loose shipping items for international transportation from the USA overseas, it is recommended to:

    (1) Distribute weight evenly. Stack shipping boxes squarely corner-to-corner to the skid's edge to maximize compression strength but do not allow shipping boxes to hang over the skid.
    (2) Keep the top of the skid flat to minimize loss or damage to cartons; do not pyramid-stack.
    (3) Place angled fiberboard (angle board) between shipping boxes to prevent crushing. 
    (4) Cover with a plastic film on the top of skids to protect your shipping boxes from weather damage during the transportation from the USA overseas.
  • SECURING OF SKIDS: Wrap skids in 70-gauge stretch wrap. Pass at least two bands (tightly secured) through the skid voids and around all cartons. If possible, use steel, rayon, polypropylene, nylon, or polyester strapping to band shipping boxes. Use shock-absorber connections or cushioned skids, if applicable, when bolting.


Shipping goods from the USA in crates

Crating goods for international transportation from the USA overseas can be quite expensive. However, in certain circumstances, goods need to be crated.

Shippung International LCL. Smaller Crate.

The crating of shipping goods can be necessary if you ship abroad any valuable or fragile items. Regular or custom-made solid crates can be purchased from packing companies or ordered online.

You may consider hiring a local professional packing company to crate your goods for international shipping from the U.S. Always ask the company if they are familiar with regulations in international cargo transportation. Particularly with wood packing restrictions.

Crates built for the shipping from the USA LCL must be forkliftable and easily fit into a 40-foot multimodal ocean freight container.

International Shipping from the USA. Custom built crate.


Mixing shipping units in transportation from the USA

When ship goods overseas, sometimes it is a good idea to ship freight in different types of shipping units. You can palletize and shrink-wrap smaller shipping items, crate most valuable or fragile items, and leave oversized items loose. This approach should give you peace of mind on the safety of your valuables and save on gross chargeable volume in your international shipping from the United States using LCL freight service.   

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