• ShipinBoxes

Top 10 Tips for Loading your Self Pack Shipping Container

Updated: Mar 4, 2020

How to Pack a Shipping Container for International Removals

As we all know, moving house can be very stressful, even more so when you're considering that big move overseas, but with proper planning and preparation, you can ensure that everything goes smoothly.

Using a shipping container is a great way to get your items from one country to another and packing it yourself will save you loads! If you are choosing to pack the container yourself there are many factors you need to consider, such as unexpected movement during shipping and proper weight distribution.

Here are our top tips for getting the shipping container loaded and secured properly:

1. Choose a Good Location for the Container

Before the container is delivered to your address you should mark out an area for it. Find a location that offers easy access and allows enough room to comfortably load your possessions. Try to have the container door facing into the garage or another suitable part of your home. If you don't have room to have a shipping container delivered to your house, don't fret, you can always use a local storage facility! Your freight provider should be able to help you with this as well.

2. Check the Container is Clean, Tidy & in Good Repair

Your container should be delivered to you clean and in good repair however it's always worth double-checking it yourself before you start loading. Sweep out the container and if anything has been left inside (packing materials, plastic wrap etc) remove it before you start packing. You will also want to check that the container is watertight. An easy way to do this is to pop inside and bring the doors together (but don't close them completely!). By doing this you should be able to see if any light shines through, which will tell you if there any holes in the container. Remember, you don't want to lock yourself inside, so it's always good to have someone else outside the container while you do this!

3. Make Sure Your Goods are Clean and Free of Contamination

Quarantine officials are very strict when it comes to what is allowed into the country. You need to make sure that all of your items are clean and free from any soil, seeds, dirt and any other potential contaminants. Wash any boots or camping gear thoroughly and throw out any old vacuum bags, making sure your vacuum cleaner is also clean and free from dust and dirt. It's also a good idea to go over any other items you are packing and check for anything that might be considered a hazard for bio-security.

4. Create a Detailed Inventory List

One of the most important things to remember when moving internationally is that everything that goes into the container should be noted on an inventory list. Boxes should be marked with an identifying tag and have the individual contents listed. When a box is sealed, attach the list of contents to the outside. Not only will this assist you in unpacking the boxes when they arrive but is a requirement for customs officials.

Remember to list everything that's going in, while you don't have count how many knives & forks you have, you do need to list that they are in there. "Assorted Kitchen Items" or "Lounge Room" are NOT suitable titles, instead list out the items "Forks, knives, pots, pans...." etc.

Taking a few extra minutes to write an easy to read, detailed inventory list will mean less time customs and quarantine officials will need to spend looking, if they decide to inspect and this can save you a lot of money and hassle when trying to clear your goods. The team helping you with the move will be able to provide you with a good template to use and you can always ask questions as you go if you're not sure.

5. Use Suitable Packing Materials

Boxes that are the same size make it easier to stack inside the container. Use small ones for heavier items and larger ones for lighter items. Live by the rule "if it fits in a box, pack it in a box". Make sure everything fragile is wrapped tightly with bubble wrap and fill any gaps in boxes with other material, such as balled-up packing paper. Remember that there will be movement in the shipping container as it travels across the sea so you want to make sure everything is secured.

6. Position your boxes appropriately

Surround boxes that contain breakable items with heavier ones. This will keep them secure if anything shifts in the container, which can happen frequently while at sea. If possible, strap them together so they move as one larger object instead of falling over each other.

7. Spread Larger Items Out and Strap Down

Pack any large furniture pieces inside and spread them out on the floor of the container. This will help in balancing the weight in the container and minimise the amount it will shift during transit. Remember you want to distribute the weight evenly so the container is balanced. The container should also have strapping points, use these to secure your large items so they do not move. You can also use the strapping points to create rope webbing barriers to separate sections of the container and minimize movement. Once the large items are loaded, start packing boxes around them, using blankets and other packing material for protection. Remember that there will be movement so you want to use quality packing blankets and boxes to ensure your precious cargo isn't scratched or damaged during transit.

8. Fill Empty Space in With Smaller Boxes

Use small boxes to fill any gaps left by larger furniture items. Removing gaps in your packing will aid in stopping everything from shifting during the move and reduce any possible breakages.

9. Pack Essential Items at the Front

Often there are items that you need quickly on arrival. Put these into specially marked boxes and pack them near the door so they can be accessed easily and quickly. Items that you might include in this box are: kettle, mugs, toilet paper, towels and radio. Then you can relax, get clean and enjoy a coffee as you unpack.

A good idea is to also pack anything that might be likely to be inspected by quarantine services when you arrive close to the front and clearly labelled. This can include things like vacuum cleaners, hiking equipment, boots etc. This means that quarantine officers won't need to go searching for items through the entire container, saving you time and money.

10. Don't pack everything

Not everything is suitable for packing inside a shipping container. While it’s best to check with local officials, here a few things that you should not be packing:

  • Hazardous Material (Gas Bottles, Paint etc)

  • Family Documents (Passports, Birth Certificates, etc)

  • Bio-Material (Plants & Seeds)

  • Prohibited Items (Weapons, Ammunition, etc)

  • General Food Items

  • Jewellery

Remember that spending a little bit of extra time preparing for your international move can save you a lot of headaches and dollars down the track. A few key things to remember:

  • Make sure you thoroughly clean any items - especially those that might house soil, seeds or other biosecurity risks.

  • Use quality packing materials - you can save a lot of money by packing the container yourself but make sure that you adequately protect your items for their long journey to make sure they arrive in one piece.

  • Write a detailed inventory list while you're packing - detail ALL the items that you put into boxes and don't just use general headings.

  • Don't pack any hazardous materials - if you're not sure what you can and can't back just get in contact with your mover or freight provider, it's always better to double-check if you're unsure.

The team at ShipinBoxes are specialists when it comes to moving personal effects via self pack shipping container from Australia to New Zealand. We are here to help with any questions you may have so don't hesitate to contact us via email ( or phone (Free call 1800 848 917) or take a look at our website for more information!