Shipping to the U.S.A has many pitfalls. One is the fact that different states have different rules.  A legal requirement in one state may not be required in another. This can lead to confusion and possible shipment delays or even financial penalties.

An area where UK exporters can come unstuck is the maximum weight that can be transported on the U.S. roads.

This is an easy mistake to make as the limits in the U.S.A. are considerably lower than in the U.K. Added to this is the fact weight limits in the U.K. limits are discussed in Kilos and U.S. limits are stated in LBS (Pounds). The limits also vary from state to state so it is no surprise that mistakes are made. Unfortunately when this happens it can be expensive, special permits may be required or worse still, cargo may have to be unloaded from the container before it can leave the quay or cross into the state of destination.

So what are the rules?

As with the UK maximum weights are governed by the roads and not how much cargo can be loaded in the box and whilst this number may vary from state to state, two things are constant and need to be remembered to reduce potential errors.  One is what the weight limits include and the other is the weight distribution per axle on the truck and this will depend on the size of container.

Any weight limit stated is not just for the weight of the actual cargo. It includes everything associated with the container as it sits on the weighbridge waiting to leave the port.  By this I mean the container, the trailer under the container, the truck pulling it, the contents of the truck pulling it including the fuel, the driver and even the driver’s lunch. So if the weight limit is 38000 LBS and the driver weighs 300 Lbs (136 Kgs) which is quite possible then suddenly that could be a pallet of product that has to be removed. Regarding the fuel It’s common for a truck to have 2 fuel tanks, each with a 500 litre capacity which equates to a combined weight of 850 Kgs. Several pallets of product. Another thing to remember is that U.S trucks and trailers tend to be heavier than those in Europe where a lighter aluminium alloy is used, thus increasing the weight of product that can be loaded without exceeding the limit.

The only way to be sure is to allow a large margin for error and check on every occasion but the below table may help. Just click to open the spreadsheet in a separate window.

shipping container to usa from uk