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How to Pack A Pallet For Moving Abroad

One of the ways you can save money on your moving cost is to pack a pallet box or container yourself instead of hiring someone to do it for you. This is called a self pack move. A Self pack move means just as it sounds, you pack your goods and the carrier will pick the pallets up at your door. This eliminates the extra cost of a packing service.  If you have a smaller amount of personal items to ship, then you can ask you shipping broker to quote you on a a partial or shared container further reducing your moving cost.

The problem with telling your shipping broker your doing a self pack is that most freight brokers are reluctant to give you the right information on exactly how to pack your own pallet to move abroad. Freight providers are in the business of moving and the higher your moving cost are, the larger their cut of commission is.  Choosing a self pack option for moving overseas is perfectly safe as long as you know what materials to use and take extra precautions because while your goods are in transit, your cargo will be moved probably over 30 times by different fork lifts. Whether you are doing a self pack or door to door move no one is going to treat your pallets any different regardless of what service you choose. You’re often better off packing it all your self to ensure all breakables are secured the way you want them to be.  I use a simple, safe, step by step easy way to get a few pallets packed up so nothing happens to my personal belongings during the transit overseas.

Step one: Shipping and packaging materials to buy

You are going to need to purchase the following:

Pallet boxPallet box or pallet container
You can generally purchase pallet boxes online or at stores that sell commercial shipping supplies. Pallet containers come in corrugated cardboard, wood or plastic options. Just keep in mind that stronger boxes in wood and plastic can add to the weight of your shipment but are safer choices.  In humid climates perhaps you might want to consider wood or plastic.


Standard pallet for shippingPallet
Pallets come in plastic, wood, or metal and can be found from pallet shops online or commercial locations. Pallets can also come in a few different sizes so ask your shipping company which size you will need before you purchase. Its also good to note wood pallets are not allowed in Australia.


Pallet wrapPallet Wrap
Pallet wrap is usually pretty easy to find at most packaging stores and Do It Yourself stores. Don’t be shy layering this on as it really gives great protection against waters or any damage to the container.



Bubble wrap packing and moving supplies


Bubble Wrap
Bubble wrap should be the easiest to find and can even be purchased at your post office or Do It Yourself store.



Security straps or cargo straps
Security Straps (Optional)
The high gauge security straps can be purchased at a local hardware , moving shop where trucks are rented or a DIY commercial hardware store store for around $12 a piece.



Step two: Prepare the pallet for shipping

What you’re going to do is choose a delivery spot for the pallets to be picked up by the moving company. Your shipping company will bring a fork lift to remove the container so it needs to be a location that easy for a fork lift to get to. Your garage or driveway works best. Set your pallets out and your pallet box on top.

Pack up your containers and use the bubble wrap only as needed, also its good to note paper packing materials do not always work so well due to humidity in an oceanic environment. When you pack up the boxes you do not need to over stuff the containers with large amounts of bubble wrap because the volume of the containers are precious space and very expensive so you only need enough to protect the contents and fill up any large holes so nothing shifts around. I used bath towels and bed lined as protection instead of paper. Not only were the contents protected from damage but the towels and sheets came in handy later. Pack it tight, make every space count!

This next part only applies if you are using heavy shipping cardboard containers.

When the box is packed,  use both pallet wrap to seal up the lid secure the corners of the boxes and I like to apply security straps both vertically and horizontally. You might want to set two straps under the pallet box before you begin packing the pallet so it’s much easier to secure the box to the pallet before the container is full. Avoid placing the strapping through the fork lift holes if you can. It is possible for the fork lift to break a strap.

Next pallet wrap the entire pallet box with pallet wrap be sure not to cover up any of the fork lift holes underneath. The key here is to make your box as water resistant as possible. Use as much of this stuff as you can. If you are using a cardboard pallet box, I personally do not allow any of the carton to be visibly exposed to air to prevent moisture from damaging the container. Its a good idea to use pallet wrap over the security straps so the straps can not slide or move during transport and transport workers don’t try to remove the straps to take home .

Step 3: Finishing the pallet for transport

The last thing you need to do is label each pallet. Your carrier or broker will give you the documents that you need to attach securely to each pallet. Be sure the labeling is strongly secured and cannot be torn off easily. Its a good idea to cover it in clear plastic to avoid water damage.

I usually take a photo of the cargo before it leaves just for legal documentation should something happen. Rest assured your goods are safe and secured and this is how it is done regardless of who packs your pallet.


  1. This is a solid article. I never really considered using a pallet to move over seas (or anywhere for that matter), though I interact with pallets on a weekly basis at my work. I certainly think the idea of packing a pallet is more complex than the actual act. They are very simple to put together, and the actual materials themselves are inexpensive. I mean, the pallet itself can usually be found for free if you go into any retailer and ask, or you can make one yourself with a few pieces of wood. Now that you’ve pointed it out to me, it appears that using a pallet to transfer your goods to a new home over seas is really one of the better ways to go. You’ll end up saving some money too, I imagine, due to not having to check in a larger number of suitcases at the airport.

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