Shipping Marks and How To Label Cartons For International Transit

Shipping marks are used to clearly tell the people handling your goods what to expect when they pick them up and how to handle them. The marks may also be used in the UK to identify different products within a single shipment.

Transit Markings For Cartons

Why Your Cartons Need To Be Labelled For Transit

When shipping, your cartons need to be clearly labelled because shipping labels are essentially directions for the people handling your goods.  Before the guys who unload a truck/load the container/palletise boxes for delivery (etc., etc.) touch a box they should know about the goods inside.  How heavy it’s going to be (should it be on the top or bottom of a pile), is it fragile or do the contents need to stay a certain way up.

Remember, your products are in boxes – so people won’t immediately know what they are and what precautions need to be taken when transporting them. Handlers need to be able to identify the type of product they’re handling and what sort of provisions need to be made for safety and efficiency.

Not only for handling purposes, carton marks and labels are used for identification and to keep consignments together.  It your goods don’t fill a container then they need to be easily identifiable.  That’s why carton marks in LCL shipping are so important.

Shipping Marks In LCL Shipments

When you’re shipping via less than container load (LCL), your goods will be packaged into a shared container. Although this is an efficient way of shipping that can save you a lot of money, the fact that there are so many people’s products in one shared container can lead to confusion if your supplier hasn’t clearly packaged and labelled your goods correctly.

When importing goods from China most goods aren’t palletised in transit meaning your goods will be packaged in loose cartons. Imagine if 10 companies in a shared container had 50 loose cartons – now, on top of that, remember that all cartons typically look fairly similar. You can see where this gets confusing, can’t you?

There’s no need to worry, though; so long as your goods are labelled correctly with the right shipping marks, it’s easy to separate them when the container is unpacked. Today’s post is all about what those shipping marks are and how to make sure that your supplier has used them.

Shipping Marks For Your Benefit

Shipping marks, however, are also for your benefit. They clearly mark and distinguish all of your stock, which in turns makes it easier for you to find and unpack.

For example: if you’ve got an order of 300 cartons that has 5 colour variations, your supplier can make sure that these variations are reflected in the labelling. This then cuts out a lot of wasted time and effort crawling through cartons to try find a specific product. So let’s say you’re looking for a medium green T-Shirt; you can look at the labels to find which box contains the Green T-Shirts and in what size.

In the same sense, if you’re using a fulfilment warehouse to fulfil your orders, having your cartons labelled clearly helps the warehouse to be able to efficiently unpack and dispatch your goods.

How To Label Your Cartons For Transit

People use different shipping marks in their cartons, but the markings that we recommend are:

Carton number                 :               [e.g. 1 of x, 2 of x, 3 of x, etc.]

Carton size                          :            [dimensions in cm]

Net Weight                         :              [in kg]

Gross Weight                     :              [in kg]

In addition to that, it’s probably a good idea to ask for your company name to be put on the cartons.  You can also request for other things like quantity of items inside (and type of item if you’re shipping lots of different colours or sizes) or anything else that may help you on arrival to be put on the cartons.

Shipping Marks and Where They Need To Be On Cartons

Shippo; What is Shipping MarkShipping MarkShipping Mark GuideShipping Marks on CartonsShipping Mark Sample, trends

Packaging For Transit Symbols (Handling Marks)

For safety and transit related marking, you’ll want to use symbols instead of writing; these are universally recognised. When shipping goods internationally, it’s very likely that they’ll encounter people who can’t speak the language your markings are written in, so using symbols is important to convey the conditions goods need to be kept in when shipped.

Here at the symbols that are usually used in shipping and what they mean:

Shipping Marks; How To Label Cartons For Transit

Amazon FBA Marking

If your goods are being imported straight to Amazon FBA (which we can easily do for you), there are additional labels that will need to be put on the cartons. We would strongly reccomend that you have your supplier apply the Amazon carton labels to ensure there are no extra costs or complications in the UK.  This is because Amazon have very strict packaging and labelling requirements for them to be accepted to the warehouse.

If you are shipping to Amazon FBA and want to know how your products need to be packaged, here’s our Guide To Amazon FBA Packaging and Labelling Requirements.

Dangerous Goods Markings

If you’re shipping goods that fall under any of the 9 classes of dangerous goods, you will need to make sure that your cartons are correctly marked with their hazard symbols. This is because dangerous goods (products that are hazardous for transit as transport conditions can cause reactions with them and cause them to be unstable, not necessarily products that are dangerous themselves) need to be handled with care.

Products that are considered hazardous goods require controlled conditions that are specific to their class’s needs – so it is imperative that their cartons are marked so people handling them can make the necessary arrangements.

To learn more about dangerous goods – and identify whether the goods you’re shipping are classed as dangerous goods – feel free to read our 9 Classes Of Dangerous Goods Guide.


Hopefully, you enjoyed this post and learnt more about shipping marks and why they’re such a critical part of the shipping process. If you are shipping goods internationally and would like some help (and savings!) with sea or air freight, feel free to contact us or grab a free quote.

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