Container Loading Tips
for Do-It-Yourself Shippers

It must be pointed out that our agents’ professional packing crews will not just block and brace freight at a job site. Our packers will do a job only if they are allowed to do the loose packing at the shipper's address and then do the loading with blocking and bracing of freight back at the warehouse. Our packers rates are determined by the volume / weight of the shipment and their prices shown on our website at:

Now if you want somebody to just load the freight into the container with blocking and bracing of the freight, then I would suggest a local mover who will charge you an hourly rate and will do a good job.

Economy Rates, Sensible Solutions.
However, if your budget is limited and you select our FCL Economy rates, you will be responsible for the packing and loading of the container. Below are some useful suggestions for you to use. Because this is your container, you can pack and load the way you want, but I would highly recommend you should read this sections to insure that your freight will not move around inside the container and to make the move as cost efficient as possible.

  • When the trucker shows up at your door you should have everything prepped (packed) and staged (moved outside or to the first floor) so there is no down time spent packing and deciding on what to take. During a live load you are given 2 free hours to load and after that it will be approx. $65.00 / hour in overtime in demurrage. Note if you have a couple of people helping you and you have everything stage and ready to go then for a full 20 foot container, it should take you less than 3 hours to load and for a full 40 foot container, it should take you less than 6 hours to load.

  • Load the bigger items like furniture into the container first. Place items like furniture against the back and sides of the container. Make sure all contents inside the furniture have been emptied and the draws of these pieces of freight are taped and facing the walls of the container. Remember that the container doesn't come with a ramp, so plan ahead. Places like heavy equipment rentals, U-Hual, Ryder, etc. may have ramps for rent. On our site we have a company called Penske that rents ramps to individual shippers.

  • When it comes to protecting your bigger pieces of furniture, I would recommend the use of shrink-wrap which can be used to individually wrap the pieces with. Shrink-wrap protects your freight against moisture and humidity. Shrink-wrap is sold at Packaging Plus stores, Mailboxes Etc., and storage facilities. There are a number of vendors like Achor Box that are shown throughout our website.

  • Buy some nylon rope to lash the legs of the furniture to the bullrings that are on the floor and ceiling of the container. Blocking the bigger pieces of furniture is important to keep the pieces from moving around inside the container which can cause damage to your freight. Blocking methods include the following:

    • the use of 2 x 4's cut into wooden blocks:
      Go to a hardware store / lumber yard and pick up some 2 x 4's or 4 x 8's and then cut them into wooden block size. You can then hammer spikes through blocks into the floor of the container which is made of wood.
    • the use of rubber or plastic blocks which are made for blocking the tires of an auto inside a container but can be used for blocking the legs of furniture. You can purchase from a Sears or Wal-Mart store.
    • the use of rope (nylon rope) to lash the legs of the furniture to the metal bullrings that are on the floor and ceiling of the container.

  • After loading the heavy pieces of furniture into the container you should start loading your boxes of personal effects into the container. You should utilize the gaps of space that are underneath, on top or next to the pieces of furniture. What you are doing is creating a layering affect inside the container with these boxes of personal effects. Remember the more snug things are inside the container the less chance there is of the freight from moving around.

  • You can pickup the boxes at any good U-Hall, Packaging Plus Store, or Mailboxes, etc. Suggested types of boxes required for your move are as follows:
    • book cartons which are can be used to hold your books, DVD'S, CD'S, toiletries etc. and the normal capacity of these boxes are around 2 cuft.
    • linen cartons can be used for your linens, comforters and also for kitchen stuff like small appliances, crockery, and glassware. They have a standard volume of 4cuft.
    • dish-packs are great for people who have sets of china or expensive glassware and need the added protection of the bubble-wrap that comes with these cartons. Standard volume is around 6 cuft and highly recommended for anything that is small and fragile.
    • Wardrobe cartons are definitely recommended for those who have a lot of clothes and want to protect their clothes. These cartons are normally around 10cuft.

  • You should try to save some space in the middle of the container where you can put your mattresses and box springs. Again, by having these items in the middle, you are creating a natural buffer zone. You can also use plywood to create a buffer zone.

  • If you aren't filling up the whole container or you will be loading a motorycle or auto inside the containtainer with your freight, you should build a wall inside the container. This process is known as embarkation. Normally walls are built out of 2 x 4's and you can use plywood to build your wall.

  • If you are shipping an auto with your household goods as discussed in the FCL FACTSHEET, please remember to do the following:
    • the front end of your auto is showing at the back of container. This is very important for Customs in verifying the VIN numbers of an auto to its original title to the auto.
    • embarkation of a wall
    • drain the gasline completely
    • disconnect the battery
    • wrap the battery ends up in electrical tape
    • block the wheelsn(front, back and sides)
    • lash the axels of the auto to the bull rings on the floor of the container
    • sign off on the dock receipt which our document people will provide you with to sign off saying that you did the above mentioned and that your auto has been made non-hazardous.

  • When it comes to do it yourself loading autos inside a container, I would highly recommend the services of your local garage owner. They normally have on hand a flatbed truck with a tiltback that can easily pickup and slide your auto inside the container. They will normally charge around $150.00 for this service and these fees are paid directly to the operator of the tiltback flatbed.

  • Please remember that since you are doing your own packing and loading of the container we will need to see a detailed inventory list on what you have loaded inside the container. When packing your personal effects into boxes, please remember to label or write on the boxes to what you are stating on the inventory list. The same goes for your bigger pieces of freight in that you should mark or label the items to correspond with your inventory list. Being precise and concise is very important. You can download our inventory list from

  • After you have loaded the container please provide us with the following information: container number, seal number and total piece count according to your inventory list.
Lastly, Customs now use scanned copies of the B/L (bill of lading) stating that the freight has "been prepaid-express release" and this is working out well to all ports of the world. If you want the actual B/L (Bill of Lading) to be sent to you, there will be an additional $45.00 handling fee over actual messenger/courier cost.

Any questions or comments, contact our sales department at Sefco Export.

Peter DeStefano
Director of Sales
Phone: 718-268-6233
Fax: 718-732-2863
Voice Mail: 914-293-7109

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