What’s Jacking up Your Export Shipping Cost

What’s Jacking up Your Export Shipping Cost

???????????????????????????????Exporting goods means you have a lot of extra factors to consider for your shipping. Not only are you dealing with size restrictions for two kinds of transportation, but also compliance and other regulations that apply to international cargo. If you don’t know what to expect, you can encounter surprise costs and waste a lot of extra time researching and/or correcting. Here are some important notes to keep in mind when packaging your cargo.


The restrictions on the size of your air-bound cargo is determined by the door size and type of aircraft in general. You’ll have the most flexibility when using passenger or cargo planes. Airbuses are also becoming more popular and typically schedule flights to most countries once or twice a week. For height, here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Crates 64” or less can go on passenger or cargo planes
  • DC-10 planes have 88” side door openings
  • Nose cones on 747 freighters have 96” openings
  • 747 freighters have 118” deck side door openings

Crate length will also determine your shipping cost because if you exceed the length of a pallet position, you’ll be charged for more than one. This is true even when it’s only by a few inches. Air pallets are aluminum or steel platforms that are firmly attached to the aircraft deck, and are typically 10’ or 20’ long.  For this reason, you’re best off keeping the crate length under 10’.


Ocean-bound freight has different limitations. You have a few options depending on how big your cargo is. There are a few commonly-used sea containers:

  • The most common sea containers are standard 20’ and 40’. Door openings are 94” wide and 90” tall. Keep your crate dimensions a minimum one inch less than these dimensions. The available length inside these containers is 19.5’ and 39.5’.
  • “High Cube” sea containers are 40’ long, 94” wide, and an extra 12” tall. Here you want your crate height to stay at or below 101”.
  • Also available are open top containers – which have standard dimensions but allow for taller product
  • New 45’ and 53’ sizes have been introduced
  • Products that are too large for sea containers are considered “break bulk” and are stowed alone on the sea vessel. They’re usually lifted on with overhead cranes and large forklifts – you’ll want to investigate lifting locations and appropriate markings

In all cases, it is safest to check with the freight forwarding agent and work with a crating specialist to determine your best option.

Don’t Forget about the Truck

With either air or sea travel, a truck is needed to haul your container to and from the cargo carrier. That means truck sizes have to be considered for both the importing and exporting countries. The most typical scenarios are:

Trucks with swing doors generally have height openings of 110” and 99” widths

Trucks with roll up doors usually have 104” tall openings

If your crate is too big for a contained truck, step decks and flat beds require permits when width exceeds 102”

Other Considerations

Depending on the type of cargo you have and its destination, you have several other things to bear in mind when choosing a shipping container:

  • Perishable cargo may require adequate ventilation
  • Cargo that is vulnerable to moisture and other elements should be protected with moisture barriers. Packnet recommends MIL-J-131 water vapor barrier packaging with desiccant or VCI materials to protect products against moisture and corrosion.
  • Investigate to find out if your cargo is classified as dangerous or hazardous and need proper labeling and approved containers
  • Use appropriate international markings such as orientation of the crating and official ISPM15 markings by a certified crating supplier. Over 130 countries have adopted ISPM15 standard for heat treated lumber.

No matter what special considerations your particular cargo needs, always ensure you have your packing slips and export documentation with gross and net weights.

If you want to work with packaging experts to ensure your cargo meets all the applicable requirements, Packnet will ensure:

  • Crating meets destination country regulations for solid wood packaging
  • Your product is packaged to minimize damage from shock, vibration and corrosion
  • Crate is designed to be handled by all international and local shipping methods
  • Safe containerization – we can containerize your cargo on site if needed

For more information call 952.944.9124 or request a free assessment here

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