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Basic Guidelines for Loading Your Own Container

STEP 1: Before your move.

Make sure that you have all of your items packed, labeled and your inventory completed prior to the day you load your container.

STEP 2: The day of your move

When your container arrives, make sure to check the following:

1)       The container is not damaged, has no holes and is clean: Your container will be checked before it leaves the port and you should find it clean and free of damage. However, it is always a good idea to check it again before loading. 

a.       Go into the container; check the floor to make sure it is clean.

b.       Have your helper close the door to the container.

c.        Make sure that there is no light coming in from openings in the container.

2)       Make sure the driver has the metal seal for the containers locking mechanism. The booking instructions we send to the shipping company includes a request for a seal to be brought with the driver.

a.       This seal is used to lock the container after loading is finished.

b.       Make sure you record the seal number on a separate piece of paper and provide this information to our dispatch department.

c.        No seal? Do not worry - the container will be sealed when it reaches the port. However, make sure (a) you let us know there was no seal and (b) that you put a padlock on the container and keep the key.

3)       Make sure that the container number is shown on the side of the container or on the right container door

a.       All containers have a number. Make sure that you write this number down with the seal number described above.

b.       Make sure to report both the container and the seal number to our dispatch department following loading.

HELPFUL TIP: If you see sunlight coming into the container, determine where the hole or crack is. Call our office immediately. It is always a good idea to have a broom handy to sweep any dirt from the floor of the container.


Container will arrive for loading on a chassis. The container opening sits approximately 4' from the ground. There is no ramp or lift provided.

If you feel that you will need a ramp for loading be sure to obtain one and have it on-site prior to the arrival of the container on the day of your move.

The way you load your container will depend upon the volume of goods to be loaded. Here are the facts:

·         A 20 foot container can hold up to 950 cubic feet of household goods and personal effects OR 200 cubic feet and a full size car.

·         A 40 foot container can hold up to 1850 cubic feet of household goods and personal effects OR 1200 cubic feet and a full size car

·         A 40 foot High Cube Container can load up to 2150 cubic feet of household goods and personal effects OR 1400 cubic feet and a full size car

Here are the steps for loading:

1.       Open the container doors all of the way alongside the container side walls. This will give you a better approach during loading and will prevent the doors from slamming shut if it is windy.

2.       You will need 4 strong people to help you on site. Two should be inside the container and two should be on the ground lifting your shipment into your container.

3.       Start loading the container with boxes and some bulky items such as your sofa, box spring etc. The goal is to create pressure from side to side to prevent your shipment from moving inside the container. LEAVE YOUR MATTRESSES to be loaded last. We will explain why later….

4.       Build your first floor of boxes using heavy boxes containing books, tools, etc. Light and fragile boxes will be loaded on top of the heavy ones. Pictures, mirrors and/or flat, fragile items should be placed on top of the last row of boxes between the boxes and the container ceiling.

5.       When you finish with your LAST ROW, lean one or two mattresses which have been wrapped on the last row. Use the hooks in the container and rope to make an X shape holding the mattresses in place. (Start on the top left hook with your rope and hook it on the right bottom hook. Reverse the processes with the top right and lower left hook.). This perfect X shape supports your mattress to hold the shipment in place and prevents extreme shifting of your load.

HELPFUL TIP: Not sure how many cubic feet you have? Ask your shipping consultant to send you an Inventory spreadsheet.

HELPFUL TIP: Before loading begins, have your shipment staged together close to the loading point. This will save you many extra trips back and forth into the house and will help you position your shipment into the container most efficiently.

HELPFUL TIP: If you have only approximately 600 cubic feet for a 20 container or approximately 1300 cubic feet for a 40 foot container (and no automobile) you do not have to go up to the container ceiling. For a larger shipment, (600-950 cubic feet for a 20 container or over 1400 cubic feet for a 40 container) go all the way to the ceiling to avoid any leftover items when you finish loading.

STEP 4: Closing the container

YOU FINISHED! Good job. Close the container doors place the seal (or your padlock) on the door and send the container on its way.


A copy of your inventory, container number/seal number, insurance documentation and final payment should be sent to us package sent to you previously should be mailed no later than the day following loading.

HELPFUL TIP: Packing and loading a container is not something you do every day. You may need some extra help. We can help you locate temporary labor agencies in your area.

Even though it is not easy, packing your container saves you a substantial amount of money. Always remember, we are here to help you make the process easier.

Make sure everything is ready (packed and inventoried) before your container arrives

Keep your passport, money, flight tickets, inventory, insurance forms, etc. in a place where you know they will stay put and not be packed by mistake into the container.

Get lots of rest the day before your move. Loading day will be a hectic day and you will need your rest before you begin.