Marking of cargo

Correct and complete marking of packages helps to prevent incorrect handling, accidents, incorrect delivery, losses of weight and volume and Customs fines.

Marking must be clear and precise. Its color should stand out clearly from that of the package; it is usually black in color. Alternatively, it may also be applied on adhesive labels. Where possible, black symbols on a white background should be used. Both when the marking is applied directly onto the package and when adhesive labels are used, care must be taken to ensure that marking is applied in a legible and durable manner.

Adequate marking is an indispensable component of the package. If the marking is at variance with the details on the shipping documents, objections may be raised by the Customs authorities. If handling marking is inadequate, those parties whose actions during transport, handling or storage of the cargo have caused damage may be excluded from liability.

Complete marking must comprise the following three parts:

1. Shipping mark

  • Identification mark: e.g. initial letters of receiver or shipper or of receiver's company name
  •  Identification number: e.g. receiver's order number
  •  Total number of items in the complete consignment
  •  Number of the package in the consignment, e.g. 5/12 or 5 — 12
  •  Place and port of destination

2. Information mark

  • Country of origin: The country of origin must be stated in accordance with the provisions of the particular countries. Statement of the country of origin is often mandatory. In some cases it is not desired and, if contractually agreed, may even have to be omitted. Failure to comply with such agreements entails a risk of blacklisting.
  •  Indication of weight of package: from a gross weight of 1000 kg, packages must be marked with details of weight. With regard to ease of transport, handling and storage, the relevant standards also recommend indicating weight from a lower threshold.
  •  Dimensions of packages: standards specify that dimensions be stated in centimeters.

3. Handling instructions

"Handling marks" help to ensure that greater care is taken with cargo handling. It must be possible to tell,

  •  whether the package is sensitive to heat or moisture
  •  whether it is at risk of breakage
  •  where the top and bottom are and where the center of gravity is located
  •  where loading tackle may be slung

1. Fragile, Handle with care


2. Protect from heat and radioactive sources


3. Keep dry


4. To save ot a radiation


5. Temperature limitations


6. Perishables


7. Impermeable packing


8. Use no hooks


9. Sling here


10. No hand truck here


11. Top


12. Center of gravity


13. Tropical packing


14. Laying-up forbidden


15. To lift directly for a load


16. To open here


17. Keep away from heat (solar radiation)


18. Not to roll


19. Stacking limitation


20. Clamp here


21. Not to stop up


22. Limit on an amount tiers in a stack


23. Do not use forklift truck here

The symbols for package handling instructions are internationally standardized in ISO R/780 (International Organization for Standardization) and in DIN 55 402 (DIN, German Institute for Standardization). The symbols must never be omitted as they are self-explanatory and so overcome language problems in international transport operations.