Blog. Packing

January 28, 2019

Packing for International Transport


Before we jump in and talk about packing materials that are acceptable for international shipping it is important to discuss prohibited materials.  If your goods are packed in unacceptable materials your goods can be seized, destroyed or forced to return to the origin country.


While this is a great packing material for domestic moves; it is not allowed to be shipped internationally. Bugs nest in plant material and can affect delicate ecosystems.   All plant material is prohibited including Cork & Cotton (raw)

Hard Wood

Wood is only allowed to be used as packing material if the wood is heat treated AND stamped with an ISPM-15 bug stamp. This includes all wood pallets, crates and braces. Not every Country has this requirement, yet, but more and more countries are joining the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). Be prudent and ship on approved pallets. Let’s say your goods are travelling from Houston TX to Cotonou, Benin in Africa. While ISPM-15 stamped wood is not required in Benin – this routing transships over Europe where it is required and so the wood would not be allowed in causing delays and penalties.


Let’s get to the good stuff.

Corrugated Boxes

The favorite choice for boxing up items – Label them, number them and tape them up good! Bubble wrap is your friend when packing up breakables. These boxes may lose integrity over a month or two of travel so use thick strong boxes. Do not pack too heavy

Plastic Totes

Stronger than cardboard boxes – great for books, heavy & super delicate items.  Label them & number them! 😊  This is a great choice for international shipping as they are economical, come in a variety of sizes and are sturdy.





Not just for air travel, you can pack up your clothing, shoes, linens, smalls, breakables and trinkets in suitcases. They have handles, stack easily and are easy to load into a car at destination.  Number them and make a note on your packing list of the contents




Gaylord Boxes

5 times as thick as a normal box – these boxes are designed to hold resin pellets and other bulk materials – they come with lids and fit perfectly on a pallet. Measuring 1.5 cubic meters. Can hold up to 2500 lbs. We offer these in our Houston, TX warehouse for $75 including an ISPM 15 pallet but you can find them online – they can be a bit awkward to deal with  at home, as they are so deep and you have to put it on the pallet before packing, it is best to bring your stuff to the shipping warehouse and load your stuff in them (we put them right next to your vehicle) secure the lid and get it overseas.  It can be stacked on and is super economical. Not great for furniture – but awesome for loose stuff.



I know that I touched on pallets above, however, let’s discuss why they are important. The trucking company shuffles your cargo in and out of trucks until they reach the domestic destination and then the bonded warehouse will load and unload your cargo in/out of the container (more than once if you have a transshipment) it is important for everything to be together and movable with a forklift to avoid damage. You can get an ISPM 15 stamped pallet OR use a Plastic pallet also known as a European Pallet, it is a bit smaller than a 40” x 48” standard wooden pallet. The benefit of the plastic pallet is that you can bypass the wood requirements; however, you can’t break it down and make a really cool coffee table when your done 😊 (#Pinterest). Pallets are NOT necessary if you are shipping a full container – they can become cumbersome when loading and unloading unless you are paying for a door to door service or someone with a forklift will be loading/unloading your freight (will save you on labor costs too).  Every pallet with freight needs securing – either Banding or Stretch wrap. Banding bites into cardboard boxes when tightened and may not be a choice for a pallet of boxes. Stretch wrap is the way to go. You can slip your pallet mark between layers and have confidence it is not going to fall off (I advise to put them on all sides of the pallet – just to make sure). You can get stretch wrap at U-Haul retail stores, Office Depot, Home Depot, U-line etc… – I really like BLACK Plastic film because it is not only slimming, makes your pallet mysterious (doesn’t show your boxes that are all labeled with the contents) and the black plastic doesn’t cost much more than regular – of course you have to tape the pallet mark on all sides.










This is the hands down most secure, strong, safe packing vessel for your goods but let’s face it, it is the most expensive. Not only expensive but back to wood requirements each piece of hard wood used in the construction must be ISPM 15 stamped. It adds weight to your shipment and can be awkward to load in and out of a passenger vehicle. We recommend crating Artwork, Marble or other fragile stone work, Sculptures, Pianos or anything else of real value that you want to safe guard.  There are a variety of crates. Solid Wood, Slate, A-frame … on and on.  Your packing company will advise the best solution for the item being packed inside.  One way around the Wood requirements is to use Plywood – this is already treated and does not require the ISPM 15 stamp.


Solid Wood                                                                                              Slat/Skeleton                                                                      A-Frame



                                Plywood                                                                                                     Piano


Inner Packing materials:

You can use a variety of acceptable packing materials in your boxes: peanuts, bubble wrap, foam, felt, shredded brown paper, air bags, fabric etc.   When packing your furniture, I always suggest using your comforters to wrap wooden furniture and use other bedding (like pillows) to secure fragile items.



You can use a variety of materials to pack your goods for international transport. If you have any doubts or questions; please call your shipping company to confirm.  I hope this article was informative and helps by making your packing decisions easier.

 Our next article  is “Choosing a Carrier” coming soon.   Have a Wonderful Day! 😊

Sue Fitzgerald, GM, Dove Shipping International Inc. Houston, TX   @doveshipping, Tel: 281-328-4100


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