Information for Loading Cargo in Containers

Cargo Distribution within the Container:

  1. Where possible, keep the cargo weight evenly spread over the largest possible floor area.
  2. The centre of gravity of the cargo is to be as close as possible to the centre of the container and as low as possible. The higher is the centre of gravity, then strapping/securing/wedging devices must also be placed higher.
  3. Cargo load units, e.g. Pallets, crates, must support (be in contact with) each other and without large gaps in between. They need to be secured to the container (wedges, strapping, etc.) so that they cannot move. (Containers are fitted with several lashing rings and bars, but are not supplied with straps, wedges etc).
  4. If the cargo is not all packaged in identical units the heaviest ones must be loaded on the container floor level and lighter units on top.

Recommendations about Cargo Weight

  • The maximum gross mass/weight of the packed container (usually marked as « Max Gross » on the right-hand container door) must not be exceeded under any circumstances. There are also maximum limits related to inland transportation regulations, and these vary by region/country. 

In cases of concentrated cargo load:

  • As per rule 1, the cargo must lie over as many floor cross-members as possible so that the weight distribution is as close as possible to even based on the container’s maximum payload and length.

For instance, the limit for a 20’ General-Purpose (GP) container is around 4667kg per linear metre (based on the maximum payload of 28000kg and a length of 6 metres).

Another guideline is to consider that if / when cargo is distributed over about 50 % of the floor length its weight must not exceed 66% of the container’s maximum payload (and so on, 66% of length for 75% of weight, 75% for 80%), but these indications may vary according to container types.

Whenever necessary the cargo must be put on some additional supports / longitudinal members to comply with above recommendations.

Guide to loading a Full Container for Export from NZ


Container Dimensions Information


NZ Import Quarantine Declaration


Full Container Load Packing Declaration form


Shipper's Letter of Instruction Template