Residential Loading of Ocean Container

Please be sure you are well aware of the following considerations and have an opportunity to ask questions about any of these items PRIOR to a container arriving at your residence:

  • Check to see if any permissions must be granted from local authorities to have a container left for the allotted time period. Any tickets or fines for zoning or code violations will be the responsibility of the homeowner.
  • Check to ensure power lines, trees, narrow pathways, and other obstacles will not be an issue when planning where the container will be placed for loading. The container stands about 12’ total on the chassis. If the driver arrives and the resident is unable to load the items due to obstructions, the resident may be charged for a dry run of the container.
  • Understand that the container does not get dropped on the ground. It will stay on the wheels (chassis) appx 4’ off the ground during loading. There is no loading equipment provided either (e.g. ramps, steps, lift-gate, etc.), nor will the driver be available to assist with the loading.
  • You will be responsible for completing the “Truck Bill of Lading” for the driver and must include the following and provide a copy to the SC Location immediately upon loading:
  1. container number
  2. seal number
  3. number of packages loaded in the container
  4. approximate weight loaded into the container


Options-Depending on where you live there are two loading options: the ‘liveload’ or the ‘drop and pick’.

A ‘live load’ means that the trucker will bring the container to your home and wait for two hours while you load. If you exceed the two hours you will pay approximately $75 per hour for each additional hour of loading time.

A ‘drop and pick’ means that the driver leaves the container at your home for two full days. The ‘drop and pick’ normally costs twice as much as a ‘live load’, but has the advantage that you can take your time in loading and securing your belongings in the container.

If you live near a port, the cost for the ‘drop and pick’ is often not much more than a ‘live load’; the cost might be worth it to be able to take your time loading. However, if you live a good distance from the port, it is possible that a ‘live load’ will be the only option available.

Remember, you also need to bear in mind the container will arrive on a chassis that is approximately 4 feet off of the ground. You will need to have some strong friends to help you load, or you will need to rent a loading ramp. Also, the area where the container will be positioned needs to be a flat, firm surface. If you do not have your own driveway, be sure to find out if you can/must reserve parking in front of your home.


Be sure that you pack all cartons tightly and that your furniture is well wrapped for full protection during the journey. We suggest wrapping furniture in KraftWrap®, a thick brown paper with bubble packaging on one side. Other alternatives are bubble packaging, old comforters/blankets, movers’ blankets or paper blankets.

Save $$$–packing, loading and unloading your container can save you thousands in charges. However if you are not comfortable with packing, you can always hire a small local moving company to help you.

The other side–At the destination you can either a) arrange customs entry then have the container positioned at your house for you to ‘live unload’ or b) terminate services at the port and customer can arrange for customs and unloading.


Before loading anything inside, inspect the shippinbg container carefully. Be sure there are no holes in the container BEFORE you allow the driver to leave.

Start with the large and heavy items like appliances and load them on the floor against the front wall of the container.

Continue loading heavier items on the floor and towards the front of the container, placing lighter items on top.

Place mattresses along the sides of the container but keep one to load at the rear of the container just behind the doors

Pack the items tightly so nothing moves. Work your way along in tiers loading from bottom to top. Look at the spaces in the tier and then go and look for an item to fill that space. Sometimes you can use an empty box, pillows, blankets or even soft toys to fill in the gaps.

Packing and loading the container well is the key to getting your shipment in good shape at the other end.

Put a box of things you will need at the destination in the back (by the doors) so you get it first when unloading. Things in this box may include a few toys for the kids, a knife to help you unpack, tea bags, coffee mugs, glasses, a radio, cleaning materials and gloves.

Boxes are easy to carry and easy to stack; pack as many items as you can into boxes. Try to use newer boxes; reused cartons are more likely to collapse during shipping.

When in doubt, put another layer of packing material around your items; better safe than sorry!

You might find it helpful to write the contents on the outside of each carton. When you reach your destination you will know where each carton goes.

Use blankets, bubble wrap and cardboard to protect items from rubbing against each other. Blankets, bubble wrap and cardboard can also be used to fill in any empty spaces. It is important that everything fits in snug and tight so nothing shifts during the ocean transit.

If necessary you can tie items to the sides of the container with straps. There are rings spaced throughout the container on the ceiling and floor, you will need to provide your own straps.

The floor of the container is made of wood. Feel free to make your own wooden braces to secure items within the container. You do not want any empty space in the container or your goods will shift during shipping.

There are two loading strategies:

Option 1: ‘Floor Load’ the container, keeping everything low to the ground. If the floor of the container is covered goods will not be able to shift from side to side.

Option 2: Build a ‘bulkhead’. Load the container from floor to ceiling, and then build a wall to keep the goods from falling into the open space. You can build the wall using plywood sheeting and 4 x 4 wood.

  • Understand that a Drop/Pull service, when available, will typically double the live load rate.
  • Customer must review and sign a Power of Attorney/Packing Declaration in addition to our other standard documentation. The Packing Declaration portion includes some prohibited items (hazardous materials, live plants, aerosols, etc.) that cannot be included.
  • Understand that most countries have stringent Wood Packaging Material (WPM) requirements, including ISPM-15 requirements.
  • The appointment time for delivery of a container is approximate. There are many factors that can interfere with exact arrival time…
  • Understand the minimal insurance coverage that is available on “packed by owner” services.
  • When loading the container, keep in mind that enroute, an ocean container can experience much hardship.
  • Tilting: An ocean container can be exposed to tilt up to 40° in any direction when being loaded on and off the rail cars and vessels.
  • Vibration: Containers are exposed to severe vibration during rail transport.
  • Moisture: Ocean containers are water tight but they are still exposed to great levels of humidity, which can find its way in… Please be sure to surface protect anything that may be sensitive to moisture.
  • Balance: Ensure you load is balanced evenly on the floor of the container. Severe unbalanced weight can cause a container to shift off of or out of a chassis, railcar, or vessel slot.

If a vehicle is also being loaded into the container:

  • It is highly discouraged to have any items packed within the vehicle. This often causes damage to the loaded items and interior damage to the vehicle in transit.
  • Must follow and sign a drain & disconnect certification form of the gas tank and battery.
  • Will need to hire a tow truck company of some sort to lift the automobile to the height of the container and load.