Tips for Preparing Your Freight for Ocean Shipment

Properly preparing your freight for shipping crucial in ensuring your freight arrives safely at its final destination.  Improperly packaged shipments can result in loss, damage, and denied claims.  Ensure your freight is properly packaged by following these tips.


The Essentials

Package your products and pallets for strength, as your products can easily be damaged during transit – inside each box, on the pallet, or by bumping into other objects en-route.  It is also important to use quality packaging materials, which are worth the extra time, work, and cost.

Properly package your products in individual boxes or crates

  • Use a container strong enough to support the weight of the contents
  • Make sure the boxes are full, with no air in them so that items are not crushed or damaged during shipment
  • Distribute the weight of your product evenly
  • Fill empty spaces with packing peanuts, bubble wrap, corrugated cardboard, etc.
  • Securely seal closures and seams with reinforced tape


Palletized Freight

Keep height and weight limits in mind

Each carrier sets their own limits on the size and weight of shipments they will carry.  Limits are set per pallet or crate, total shipment weight, and maximum dimensions.  Common limits are shown below.


Specification Limits
Pallet/Crate Weight 1,500 – 3,500 lbs.
Total Shipment Weight 9,000 – 20,000 lbs.
Unit Length 48″
Unit Width 40″
Unit Height 70 – 96″

It is suggested to always check with your carrier ahead of time to avoid misunderstandings or incurring fees.


Select the proper pallet

  • Ensure the right fit – select pallets that are large enough so that there is no overhang of your cargo
  • Select sturdy pallets with closely spaced deck boards
  • Do not select pallets with broken boards or protruding nails
  • Choose pallets with four-way forklift entry to improve handling

Stack the boxes

  • Heavier boxes should be at the bottom of the pallet, with lighter boxes on top
  • Distribute the weight evenly
  • Stagger or align boxes in columns for the greatest stacking strength
  • Make sure boxes don’t overhang or aren’t misaligned
  • Do not align corners over the spaces between deck boards
  • Do not stack boxes in a pyramid shape; keep the top layer flat to prevent damage from top loads
  • Place a load protector (a flat piece of cardboard or corrugated fiberboard) every few rows to evenly distribute the weight and solidify all loose boxes

Wrap the pallet

  • Place cardboard corner/edge boards around the pallet to stabilize the load, increase vertical stacking strength, and prevent damage to corner edges
  • Apply 3 -5 tight layers of shrink wrap to securely hold your pallet together – shrink wrap ca be twisted like rope for even greater strength
  • Wrap the top part of the pallet so it doesn’t separate from the boxes during transit, but remember to leave an opening so that it is accessible to the forklift
  • Use strapping or banding to prevent pieces from getting separated from the load; strapping should be drawn tightly around the cargo as well as underneath the top boards of the pallet


Non-Palletized Freight

  • Ship freight in corrugated boxes, crates, or shipping containers whenever possible
  • Use a container strong enough to support the weight of contents
  • If you are reusing containers, remove all old labels, tags, and markings
  • Avoid reusing boxes
  • Reinforce edges to protect from bending
  • Securely seal closures and seams with reinforced tape



Every package in your shipment needs to be clearly marked and labelled.  Be sure all labels are legible and complete.

Packages should be labeled with:

  • Name and address, including the correct zip code of the shipper and consignee
  • Matching information from the Bill of Lading

Handling labels, which include pictorial precautionary markings and text, should be highly visible and affixed on all sides of the package.

It’s also highly recommended that the total number of boxes be marked on the pallet.


Need More Help?

If you need more help or advice on preparing your freight for shipment, please contact your OCEANAIR representative, and we’ll be more than happy to advise you.