Required Documents

Common required documents for container shipping include the Bill of Lading and a Packing List:

The Bill of Lading is a document providing a binding contract between a shipper and a carrier for the transportation of freight, specifying the obligations of both parties. It includes a general commodity description, cargo routing, consigner, and consignee contact information.

The Packing List is an inventory list of each item being shipped.

There are often additional required documents and these may vary by country. OSI can advise you on the documents that are required for your shipment.

Container Shipping Explanations

If your shipment cannot fill an entire container then you may ship your goods LCL (less than container load). For this type of shipment your cost will depend on the volume that you will be shipping.

When shipping your personal effects, it is your responsibility to safely and securely pack your goods. For LCL shipments, your items must be boxed, crated and/or palletized and labeled in order to be accepted for shipment.

For shipping FCL it is your responsibility to load and secure cargo and vehicles, if any, in a sea freight container, unless you prefer to have OSI or a professional service assist in these steps. Goods may be packed and picked up from your place of residence or self-delivered to the nearest shipping terminal.


Check with your local City Hall to see if you need a permit to have a 20’ or 40’ container positioned at your home or facility. Some trucking companies may require a copy of the permit prior to delivering the container. If you fail to acquire a permit where permits are required, any charges that incur will be billed to you.

When the container arrives at your door, inspect it. Make sure there are no holes in the container BEFORE the driver leaves. Sweep out the container to remove any debris, dirt or dust.

The container comes to your door 4 feet off the ground. There are no ramps or lifts to assist you when loading. You can rent your own ramps or hire labor to help you load your container.

Packing and loading your container well is the key to minimizing damage during transit. Start at the front of the container (opposite of the container doors) and work your way back. Load all heavy items on the floor and load all light items on top. To save space and load to the max capacity of your container, please be sure to fill in all the open spaces between your furniture with boxes, light items etc….

There are several ways to secure your items inside the container: There are rings or loopholes throughout the container located on the container walls near the floor. You can use rope, ratchet straps, etc. to secure your items.

The walls of the container are corrugated or have grooves. You can use plywood and 4x4s to make partitions or to keep things from shifting frontward or backward.

The floor of the container is wood. You can nail items down to the floor or you can nail wood to the floor to keep things from shifting.

When you are done loading the container we do suggest using 2x4s or 4x4s to brace the back of the container. The key to a successful load is a tight fitting load. If your items can easily shift, damage is more likely to occur.

BEFORE the driver leaves your premises with your container, make sure to acquire the driver’s signature as proof that the driver has picked your container. Record the container# and seal# for your records.


At the destination, your goods can be delivered to your new place of residence or picked up from the nearest shipping terminal. Various shipping options are available to suit every customers needs including port to port, door to port, port to door, and door to door.

Port to Port:
With receiving terminals in all major cities you can drop your shipment off at the nearest warehouse facility and pick it up from the port at destination. This is the most economical way to ship your goods overseas.

Door to Port:
This is for the customer who is not near a local terminal or does not have transportation to deliver their shipment to our nearest warehouse. We will come to your home and pick up your household goods. The shipment will then be delivered to the nearest port of destination where the shipper would arrange for their own pick up and customs clearance of their cargo. Please make sure to give us enough advance notice to arrange for a door pick up.

Port to Door:
This service is for the customer who is near a local terminal and would like to save money on the trucking charges by delivering the boxes to the warehouse themselves, but would like the shipment delivered to their door at destination. The shipper would need to drop off the boxes at the warehouse and we will handle the door delivery, off-loading, customs clearance and removal of debris.

Door to Door:
Door-to-Door service includes packing and shipping of household goods and personal effects, automobiles, boats and general cargo, as well as customs clearance, door delivery and off-loading worldwide.


OSI offers marine insurance for all shipment types. We offer All Risk marine insurance as well as Total Loss marine insurance. Customers that self-pack their goods will only be entitled to Total Loss marine insurance. This means the entire shipment must be a loss in order to make an insurance claim. For those customers that have their goods professionally packed we can offer All Risk marine insurance. This means you will be fully covered on any damages. Please contact a representative for more details on marine insurance.


If your vehicle was shipped on RO/RO (Roll-on/Roll-Off) vessel, then it will be unloaded directly at the port. If it was shipped inside the container – then container will be delivered to the unloading warehouse before you can pick up your vehicle. At this time, Customs in the country of arrival must be cleared which is provided by a Customs broker.

A set of keys for the ignition, trunk door, gas tank, and any other locking compartment must accompany the vehicle. U.S. Customs inspects all compartments of your vehicle and will place a Customs Hold on any vehicle without a key to a locked compartment. We will provide a special key fob and your keys will accompany your vehicle to its final port of discharge.


The import regulations of the country where the vehicle is going to may be more complicated. Most of the countries impose some sort of import taxes or duties. There may also be regulations concerning the age of the vehicle or its technical specifications. Rules differ from country to country and there’s no general law. There are exceptions that allow duty-free importation for permanent residents or military personnel.


Below are some basic terms that you may want to become familiar with when shipping international cargo.

Shipper/consignor: An individual or firm that sends freight. A freight originator.

Consignee: An individual or firm to whom/who freight is shipped. A freight receiver. Note: For shipping Personal Effects, the Shipper/consignor may be the same as the Consignee.

Carrier: A firm that provides transportation services, typically owning and operating transportation equipment. Examples include: trucking company, railroad, airline, steamship line, parcel/express company.

Freight bill-of-lading: A document providing a binding contract between a shipper and a carrier for the transportation of freight, specifying the obligations of both parties. This serves as a receipt of freight by the carrier for the shipper. Usually designates the consignee, and the FOB point (point at which ownership of freight changes hands from shipper to consignee.)

FCL (full container load): An ocean-shipping and intermodal industry term; a full container-load shipment is when a shipper contracts for the transportation of an entire container. Common container sizes include 20’, 40’ and 40HQ.

LCL (less than container load): Less than Container Load is commonly used to describe international ocean freight that cannot fill an entire 20’ or 40’ sea freight container. Cargo must be boxed, crated or palletized cargo.

Please contact an OSI representative who can help you plan your move and further explain your container shipping options.