Ship loaded with containers

Exports here in Australia are at an all-time high, topping $250 billion annually. Most of this is thanks to rising commodity trading with China.

When planning your export shipments, you need to select the right shipping pallet size. Depending on where you send your shipment, you will need a different size pallet.

Size is also dictated by how you are shipping your products. Freight carriers want to maximize the space on their ships and trucks. This means you need to follow any requirements they have.

Confused by how to pick the right pallet? Our guide to pallet sizing will explain all factors to consider.

Shipping Pallet Dimensions by Country

When deciding on the right pallet sizing for your export shipment you need to consider the country that your shipment is going to. Each country has their own requirements for pallet sizing.

By adhering to these standards your shipment will fit your customer’s racking and transport system. This will make for happy clients. Both plastic and wood pallet dimensions are the same for the countries listed below.

North America and South America

The standard size is 48″x40″ (1219x1016mm), which is close to the ISO size 1,200x1,000mm. These pallets will work for shipments that go to North America, including the United States and Canada, and to South America.

Europe and the United Kingdom

European countries use a standard size of 1,200x800mm (EURO), as well as 1,200x1,000mm (ISO). Supermarket chains in Europe use 800x600mm pallets, and this has influenced many of their suppliers, like the members of the British Egg Industry Council.

You should confirm with your client to make sure they follow this standard and not the UK one.


Asian export pallets are a perfect square of 1,100x1,100mm and fit perfectly at two across in a standard shipping container. These are mainly 4-way entry plastic pallets with a full-perimeter-base, also called “monoblock” or “6 skids”.

Australia and New Zealand

Australia’s standard pallet size is 1165x1165mm, which isn’t used anywhere else. Therefore, products are imported and exported on pallets that suit the country of origin or destination.

New Zealand uses the ISO standard (1200x1000mm).

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

The ISO creates a single set of standards for countries across the world. These standards are in a variety of industries for quality, environment, and management.

As international trade increases, international standards help people do business together better. The ISO created a single set of standards for export and shipping pallet sizes. This list of standard sizing has six main categories of sizes.

  • 1300x1100mm – Worldwide shipping of chemicals, minerals and raw plastic in bags
  • 1219x1016mm (48″x40″) – Most common in North America
  • 1200x1000mm – Most common in Europe and New Zealand
  • 1200x800mm – Most common in Europe
  • 1165x1165mm – Only within Australia. Not used for export
  • 1100x1100mm – Most common in Asia
  • 800x600mm – Used by European supermarket chains

Shipping Pallet Weight

You need to consider more than the dimensions when thinking about size. Consider the weight of the pallet when planning your shipment.

Road transport, airfreight and LCL shipping costs get calculated by weight, so you need to include the weight of the pallet. Plastic pallets weigh significantly less than wood options.

Wood pallets can weigh 13-30 kg. Plastic pallets weigh less at 4.5-10 kg.

Pallets ready for export via air freight

Normal Pallet Dimensions in Industry

Some industries have a standard pallet size that gets commonly used. If you are in one of these industries, you need to take this into consideration.

Often the pallet matches the product footprint. For example, the auto industry tends to use a standard shipping pallet size when shipping parts.

Automotive Industry

The common size for the automotive industry for pallets is 1200x1100mm. When shipping these items choose a pallet as close to these dimensions as possible.

This size is common since it matches the footprint of returnable bins. These bins are what parts manufacturers and vehicle manufacturers use to transport parts.


The standard pallet size for pharmaceutical companies is 1200x800mm. If you supply raw materials to such a company, this is the shipping pallet size you need.

Chemicals, minerals and raw plastic material

Chemicals, minerals and raw plastic are shipped in 25kg bags on 1300x1100mm shipping pallets.

Standard Pallet Size by Transport Method

The final factor in determining correct pallet specification is the mode you plan on using. Each transport method works best with a different size of the pallet.

Ocean freight

Ocean freight pallets must fit into shipping containers that get stacked on ocean freighters. Think of this as many smaller cubes packed into larger boxes, and then stacked on the ship.

The freight company wants to maximize the density of their load. This means stacking the cubes as compactly as possible.

The best pallet sizes for ocean freight are 1200x1000mm and 1100x1100mm, because they fit side-by-side and make good use of container space. Other sizes, like 1200x800mm, fit, but do not use the container space in full. Other sizes may not even fit side-by-side.

Air freight

Light Weight Plastic Pallet P2G105When sending products by air, your pallets will be placed on top of another flat pallet and locked into place. Therefore, your pallets must have feet, not skids, and the feet must be tapered. See this air freight pallet as an example.

Since air freight cost is largely affected by weight, your pallets should be as light as possible.

Road transport

In Australia, distribution is done mostly by trucks on 1165x1165mm pallets, but those are not suitable for export. However, due to the history of using timber pallets, transport companies use 1200x1200mm as their “pallet space”.

Therefore, 1200x1000mm and 11001100mm pallets can fit well onto Australian trucks.

What If You Choose the Wrong Shipping Pallet Size?

Sending the correct pallet size is your way of being considerate and delivering something useful to your destination besides products. At the receiving end, incorrect pallets will simply be discarded after the product is unloaded, because there is no further use for them.

However, your product will still be delivered.

When using the correct shipping pallet size, you may be able to negotiate their value as part of the deal with the client, because they can sell them or use them.

How to Select Your Plastic Shipping Pallets

Finding the right shipping pallet size requires you to consider where, how, and what you are exporting. Take into account that you want your product to fit entirely onto the pallet with no hangover.

Select a pallet that complies with the sizing of the destination country. This lets your client receive their shipment with ease.

If you are in an industry that uses a specific size, your decision is an easy one. It is best to stick with the industry standard.

Bonus tip: How to avoid quarantine

If you ship an item that does not need quarantine at customs, choose a plastic pallet. Plastic pallets automatically comply with ISPM 15 regulations.

Plastic pallets do not carry the same risk of pest infestation that wood pallets have. This means your shipments will move through customs faster.

Please see our wide selection of export plastic pallets for your shipping needs.