Considerations for exporters on labeling of goods for overseas buyers. This article is part of the U.S. Commercial Service's "A Basic Guide to Exporting".
Last Published: 10/20/2016

Export shipping cartons and containers have specific markings and labeling that:

  • Meet shipping regulations

  • Ensure proper handling

  • Conceal the identity of the contents

  • Help receivers identify shipments

  • Ensure compliance with environmental and safety standards

The overseas buyer usually specifies which export marks should appear on the cargo for easy identification by receivers. Products may require many markings for shipment. For example, exporters need to put the following markings on cartons to be shipped:

  • Shipper’s mark

  • Country of origin (in your case, “U.S.A.”)

  • Weight marking (in pounds and kilograms)

  • Number of packages and size of cases (in inches and centimeters)

  • Handling marks (i.e., international pictorial symbols)

  • Cautionary markings, such as “This Side Up” or “Use No Hooks” (in English and in the language of the destination country)

  • Port of entry

  • Labels for hazardous materials (i.e., universal symbols adopted by the International Air Transport Association and the International Maritime Organization)

  • Ingredients (if applicable, also included in the language of the destination country)