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Export Carton Marking Guidelines

Any goods shipped overseas in carton boxes or in heavy containers need to:

  1. Meet shipping regulations of the country of destination
  2. Be packaged and labeled in compliance with environmental and safety standards set by the country of origin
  3. Enable handlers and receivers to identify shipments correctly
  4. Facilitate proper handling of shipped content
  5. Meet customs regulations of the country of destination (commercial invoices and packaging slips need to include all pertinent information)

Labeling Your Shipment

To simplify your life, always remember to ask your customers whether they have any labeling or marking preferences for the packages/bundles/pallets/containers to be shipped to them. As your customers most likely are quite familiar with local customs requirements, it is best not to deviate from their labeling specifications. If packages are labeled in accordance with their guidelines and labeling regulations, you will most likely prevent misunderstandings and delays in shipping. Their specifications most likely will include the specific ship-to address and instructions on what name should appear on the cargo. This helps the handlers of the goods in transit and receivers at the port of destination deliver the shipped order to its to final destination without delay.

If your buyer provides you with only a ship-to address and no other specifications, you must provide the following additional information on the outside of the shipment containers:

  1. Name of the person sending the shipment (the shipper)
  2. Shipper's business name and address
  3. Country of origin (for example, "U.S.A."), prominently displayed

Customs regulations regarding freight labeling are strictly enforced. For example, many countries require that the country of origin as well as the port of entry into the country of destination be clearly labeled on each imported package.

If you are not using professionally printed labels but label your goods yourself, always write your packing labels in waterproof ink. However, before labeling a package, always remember to remove all previous marks and labels that may confuse anyone handling your shipment, such as a freight forwarder or receiver.

Marking Your Shipment

Besides labels that help identify a shipment and guarantee its delivery to the correct destination, markings are used to ensure that goods are delivered safely in one piece. Markings also prevent the incorrect handling of goods, which, for example, in the case of hazardous materials, can cause serious accidents with possibly long-term financial and legal ramifications for you, the shipper.

It therefore is important to make sure the cargo you are shipping has the following type of markings:

  1. Weight markings (in pounds and kilograms)
  2. Size markings of shipping containers (in both inches and centimeters)
  3. Handling markings (always use international pictorial symbols)
  4. Handling instructions (in your country's language and the language of the country of destination)
  5. Cautionary markings (such as "This Side Up" or "Use No Hooks")
  6. Number of packages that are part of the shipment (for example, "1 of 6," "2 of 6," "3 of 6," and so on)
  7. Markings unique to hazardous materials (use universal symbols adapted by the International Air Transport Association and the International Maritime Organization)

All your labels and markings should appear on three faces of each package or container, preferably on the top and on the two ends or the two sides.