Export packaging requirements

Last updated: 3 March 2017

You must meet the packing requirements throughout your exported goods' entire journey.

This means not only the country it was sent from and the country it's arriving at, but also any other country it passes through while it's in transit.

Countries such as China, New Zealand and Australia have strict controls over the use of packing materials.

For example, if you're exporting goods in wooden packaging (such as crates or boxes), there are strict controls on this because of the risk of introducing and spreading tree pests to other countries. Many countries require phytosanitary (plant health) certifications to show that the wood has been fumigated.

If you don't follow the requirements for wood packaging your entire shipment could be rejected or destroyed.

Freight forwarders

Packing goods for export requires specialist knowledge and is a service that a freight forwarder can offer.

A freight forwarder is a company that can provide an exporting service for you and make sure your products are packaged securely and legally.

When deciding on packing for a piece of cargo, the freight forwarder needs to ensure that the goods are received in the same condition as when they left the consigner, warehouse or factory.

Visit GOV.UK for guidance on freight forwarding and moving goods.

Packaging protection advice

  • Pack in strong containers, adequately sealed and filled when possible.
  • To provide proper bracing in the container, regardless of size, make sure the weight is evenly distributed.
  • Goods should be palletized and when possible containerized.
  • Packages and packing filler should be made of moisture-resistant material.
  • To avoid pilferage, avoid writing contents or brand names on packages. Other safeguards include using straps, seals and shrink wrapping.
  • Observe any product-specific hazardous materials packing requirements.

Labelling

A label should be attached to your product and its packaging to tell customers what the product contains and how to use it.

You should check if there are legal requirements in your export markets about labelling. Regulations often vary by country. Sometimes labelling is required in more than one language and there are rules on the information that needs to be included on the labelling. There can also be rules on the colour, size and positioning of labels.

Think about having basic labelling so that it remains the same for different countries, but ensure that you translate important information for the consumer so that they know how to use your product safely. This will protect your company from legal liability.

If your business is involved with shipping food, you'll need to follow the regulations for labelling and handling food for international transport.

Legislation

Visit GOV.UK for the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2015.