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3 Things You Should Never Ship in a Shipping Container

What's in this article?
  1. 1 Perishable Items
  2. What To Do Instead
  3. 2 Important Documents
  4. What To Do Instead
  5. 3 Hazardous Items
  6. What To Do Instead
  7. Learn More
3 Things You Should Never Ship in a Shipping Container

When you're packing up your household for a massive international move, it's easy to mindlessly throw items into boxes without thinking things through. But would you ever have thought that some items are better left behind?

Containers are designed to withstand rough conditions and extreme temperatures. However, they don't always provide enough protection against damage during transit to their destination port. In fact, some things are too dangerous to ship in a container.

In this article, we'll share three things you should never ship in a shipping container. And if you have to ship one of these items, we'll give you insights on how you can ship these forbidden items safely. Keep reading to find out more!


1. Perishable Items

The first thing you need to beware of packing into the shipping container for your move is anything perishable. This is because perishable items are going to be exposed to extreme temperatures and humidity levels on the trip, which can cause them to spoil faster than normal.

Items in shipping containers are often packed in close proximity to other items. If this is the case and your perishable items spoil, you run the risk of mold growth spreading onto your non-perishable items.

Some examples of perishable items you should never pack include:

  • Fresh produce
  • Household plants
  • Juices
  • Packaged foods close to their expiry date
  • Frozen foods

If you do pack something like this into the shipping container, make sure you label it clearly with the date and contents so that when it arrives at its destination, you remember what to expect.

You can also ensure that you properly package the dry items in an airtight container partitioned away from furniture and other vulnerable items. However, as a general rule of thumb, it's better not to ever ship perishable items in a shipping container.

What to do instead

Instead of running the risk of spoiling your precious belongings, we recommend giving away or selling any perishable items before moving day.

Give away perishable food items to a homeless shelter and sell your indoor plants to friends. This way, you can avoid having to face the mess and mold once you open the container and unpack your belongings.

2. Important Documents

The second thing you must never pack into a shipping container for transport is important documents. This includes:

  • Passports
  • Insurance policies
  • Social security cards
  • Birth certificates
  • Any irreplaceable or highly personal document

Why not, you ask? Because these types of documents are easily lost during transit if they aren't stored safely inside a waterproof envelope or bag. They could get damaged by moisture or dirt getting inside the container, or they could get swept away by the wind upon arrival.

Unfortunately, many important documents will not be covered by insurance during container shipping as they hold personal value and not financial worth.

These documents are often difficult to replace and contain personal information that you would likely prefer to be kept private. Anything can happen during transit, so it's better to be safe than sorry in this case.

What to do instead

We always recommend sending these types of documents via registered mail instead of using a shipping container. Registered mail will often use air freight to transport important documents rather than sea freight which is a much safer route for smaller, more sentimental items like documents or photographs.

Air freight is properly packaged by the shipping company and is contained in a pressurized cabin on the plain. This reduces exposure to harmful elements like moisture and heat.

If you are still concerned about parting with important documents along your journey, it is always a good idea to have a dedicated folder with important documents inside for you to keep on your person while you travel. Your documents are likely safest with you during an international flight.

3. Hazardous Items

The last but arguably most important items you must never ship in a shipping container are any seriously hazardous items. These are items or substances that can pose serious health risks to anyone who has to handle or be exposed to them. They include:

  • Chemicals
  • Firearms
  • Flammable Liquids
  • Pesticides
  • Poisons
  • Radioactive materials

The reason for leaving these out of your travel plans is self-explanatory. But if you're not sure why you should, it's because they can be extremely dangerous to handle and transport.

Chemicals can leak or spill, causing damage to surrounding areas and, even worse, harm people who come into contact with them. In addition, firearms can accidentally go off or be stolen for criminal activity.

Unless you are a licensed professional with experience in transporting items like these, it is best not to try and do this at all. But if you have no choice but to transport these items, refrain from doing so without the right advice and transport legislation.


What to do instead

We recommend contacting your local authorities to find out if there are any laws in regard to transporting the hazardous materials you need to transport. For example, some countries have strict regulations about how you can transport certain substances or items.

For example, some states in the US require that firearms only be shipped through licensed dealers. If you plan on shipping a firearm internationally, you'll need to check with your state's department of transportation to see if you need special permits or licenses to move the item across borders.

Or, if you need to transport hazardous chemicals, you may want to consider hiring a professional chemical shipping carrier or shipping agent. They will know what type of containers are safe for transporting hazardous chemicals, and they will also ensure that the proper paperwork is completed so that it doesn't become an issue for you later on.

Learn More

So there you have it! Three things you should never ship in a shipping container, at least not without the proper knowledge or experience. Shipping containers are great for storing large amounts of goods and equipment. But they are not meant to be used for transporting anything and everything.

If you still aren't sure what you can or can't ship in a shipping container, or you need help deciphering how to ship something dangerous, contact us today and one of our experienced representatives will assist you.

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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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