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Shipping Labels: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What’s the difference between a parcel and a freight?

A.

Parcels are small, individually packaged, and labeled shipments. They are lightweight, usually weighing 75 pounds or less. However, most parcel carriers allow up to 150 pounds and 165” in length + girth shipments.

Freight is a heavier shipment that weighs more than 150 pounds and is normally boxed, palletized or crated.

Q. What are shipping labels?

A.

Shipping labels, sometimes called ‘package labels’, contain all the information a carrier needs to ship your package from its origin to its destination. These will include the following information :

  1. 1. Sender Name & Address, or return address
  2. 2. Recipient Name & Address
  3. 3. Package Weight
  4. 4. Unidirectional Code, or maxicode
  5. 5. Postal Barcode, or IMpb code
  6. 6. Service Type, like. Standard, Express, Priority, etc
  7. 7. Routing Number, which informs sorting where to route the package
  8. 8. A scannable barcode with a Tracking Number

Shipping labels also include many individual markings and labels that ensure proper transit and handling without damage, such as ‘handle with care’, ‘perishable items’, do not open’, ‘this end up’, and more.

Q. Where and how should I place the shipping label?

A.
  • - Attach the label to the package’s largest surface.
  • - Never attach the label over the middle seam or edges of a box. This can put your shipment at risk for damage.
  • - Don’t apply faded or damaged labels.
  • - Make sure the label is fully visible. Avoid obscured or overlapping labels. Make sure nothing covers any label or package markings. 

Q. What are the display requirements for International pictorial markings for handling goods?

A.

International pictorial markings like This Way Up, Fragile, Do Not Stack, etc. have certain display requirements by ISO like - 

  • - Symbols should preferably be stenciled directly on the package or may appear on a label.
  • - Symbols need not be framed by borderlines.
  • - The color used for symbols should be black. If the color of the package is such that the black symbol would not show clearly, a panel of a suitable contrasting color, preferably white, should be provided as a background.
  • - Some handling instructions have specific display requirements like “Fragile” and “This Way Up” should be shown near the left-hand upper corner on all four upright sides of the package. 

Q. What is the purpose of marking and labels on shipment?

A.

Marking and labels:

  • - Indicate the contents of the package
  • - Provide safe handling and storage information
  • - Indicate that the packaging meets approved standards
  • - They indicate the nature of hazards

Q. What is the difference between shipping limited quantities by ground v/s air?

A.

When shipping dangerous goods in limited quantities (Gross Mass less than 30 kg)by ground within American states, hazard class labels, placards, general markings, or addresses are NOT required for packaging. However, you must display a Limited Quantity Label For Ground/Surface Transport.

When shipping by air, Limited Quantity shipments must have a “Y” in the Packing Instruction column of the declaration. All marks and labels like hazard class labels, addresses, net weights, etc., are required. The Limited Quantity Label for Air is required with “Y” in the center.

Q. Are there any regulations for perishables shipping?

A.

Yes. Regulations for shipping perishable goods change according to the mode of shipment selected. 

  • - Via Air: Air is usually the best option for shipping perishables simply because it's the fastest. If perishables are shipped via air freight, they must comply with the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) perishable cargo rules. The IATA manual has detailed listings and rules for numerous perishable items, with advice on how to build a safe and robust cold chain operation. 
  • - Via Ground (Highway or rail): Freight should comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Sanitation & Transport Guidance. The FDA lays detailed guidelines for shippers on reducing the risk of damage and contamination for perishables, including chain of custody and record-keeping procedures. 
  • - Employees will also need to check any additional restrictions that freight carriers like USPS, FedEx, UPS might put out for perishable shipments.
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