Navigation Menu
Blue-Grace Logistics LLC
Close Navigation Menu

How To Label Your Freight Correctly, The First Time

freight labels

What’s covered in this article:

  • Freight label purpose and requirements
  • Designation, Symbol, & Explanation table
  • Dangerous goods labelling
  • Get help with your shipping needs

Why is proper freight labeling important?

While it sounds like a no-brainer, a lot of cargo damage happens due to incorrect labeling of the packages that are being transported. Labeling is an integral part of cargo packaging and is an essential aspect to ensure that your goods reach the correct destination at the required time. Correct and proper labeling including package handling instructions is critical to ensure that your goods are delivered safely and efficiently.

Labeling is also important to facilitate real-time tracking of your package as it moves through your trucker’s network and your country’s road network.

For example, if you are shipping liquid cargo or any other cargo that needs to be kept upright, it is important to label it correctly so the cargo handlers know which way to carry it. Similarly, if the cargo is hazardous, then it is important to label it appropriately. You should use the required hazardous labels so safety precautions can be taken. Not just for handling and safety, labeling is also important to facilitate real-time tracking of your package as it moves through your trucker’s network and your country’s road network.

What are the mandatory components of freight labeling?

  1. Clearly marked pick up or senders address. This is crucial because, in case of any returns or non-delivery, the cargo can be returned safely to the sender.
  2. Sender’s reference number. In order to identify the package, as the same sender could be sending various parcels to the same receiver but with different items.
  3. Clearly marked delivery address. This should have the full style address including the zip/postal code to ensure that it gets to the right area as there could be cities and streets with the same name in different parts of the country, but zip/postal codes are unique.
  4. Receiver’s reference number. The receiver may be receiving parcels from same, or various senders and they can identify the contents/order quickly with the reference number.
  5. If goods are hazardous, then the relevant hazardous labels must be affixed to the box.
  6. If the goods are Fragile, it must be labeled with Fragile stickers or tape.
  7. The label should have be clearly visible and have a big enough barcode for quick and reliable scanning.
  8. The label should be at least A5 size or larger to accommodate all the above information.

Ensuring that only relevant markings are present on the outside of the package is critical to ensuring the deliverability of your shipment.

If there are markings on the label or box that are irrelevant to the shipment, that must be removed as it may cause confusion with regard to the delivery. The labels used must be hardy and be able to withstand the elements as in sun, rain, snow or any other conditions they may be exposed to during the journey although it is unlikely that the goods can get wet during road transport. If you have more than one item in a consignment to the same receiver, it would be good to affix the labels in the same place on each item as it makes it easier for the goods to be scanned and sorted.

There are standard labels for package handling instructions which clearly indicate the nature of the contents of the packages so that everyone in the transportation chain knows what handling methods to be used like whether the package is sensitive to heat or moisture or which side is up and where the loading hooks may be used etc.

The symbols on the labels are based on an international standard ISO R/780 (International Organization for Standardization).




Fragile, Handle with Care

The symbol should be applied to easily broken cargoes. Cargoes marked with this symbol should be handled carefully and should never be tipped over or slung.  

Use no hooks

Any other kind of point load should also be avoided with cargoes marked with this symbol. The symbol does not automatically prohibit the use of the plate hooks used for handling bagged cargo.  


The package must always be transported, handled and stored in such a way that the arrows always point upwards. Rolling, swinging, severe tipping or tumbling or other such handling must be avoided. The cargo need not, however, be stored 'on top'.  

Keep away from heat (solar radiation)

Compliance with the symbol is best achieved if the cargo is kept under the coolest possible conditions. In any event, it must be kept away from additional sources of heat.  

Protect from heat and radioactive sources

Stowage as for the preceding symbol. The cargo must additionally be protected from radioactivity.  

Sling here

The symbol indicates merely where the cargo should be slung, but not the method of lifting.  

Keep dry

Cargoes bearing this symbol must be protected from excessive humidity and must accordingly be stored under cover.  

Center of gravity

A clear indication of the position of the center of gravity. To be meaningful, this symbol should only be used where the center of gravity is not central.  

No hand truck here

The absence of this symbol on packages amounts to permission to use a hand truck on them.  

Stacking limitation

The maximum stacking load must be stated as „… kg max.“. Since such marking is sensible only on packages with little loading capacity, cargo bearing this symbol should be stowed in the uppermost layer.  

Clamp here

Stating that the package may be clamped at the indicated point is logically equivalent to a prohibition of clamping anywhere else.  

Temperature limitations

The symbol should either be provided with the suffix „…°C“ for a specific temperature or, in the case of a temperature range, with an upper („…°C max.“) and lower („…°C min.“) temperature limit.  

Do not use forklift truck here

This symbol should only be applied to the sides where the forklift truck cannot be used.  

Electrostatic sensitive device

Contact with packages bearing this symbol should be avoided at low levels of relative humidity, especially if insulating footwear is being worn or the ground/floor is nonconductive.  

Do not destroy barrier

A barrier layer which is (virtually) impermeable to water vapor and contains desiccants for corrosion protection is located beneath the outer packaging.  

Tear off here

This symbol is intended only for the receiver.

What are the dangerous goods labels?

  • Class 1 – Explosives
  • Class 2 – Gases
  • Class 3 – Flammable Liquids
  • Class 4—Flammable Solids; Substances Liable to Spontaneous Combustion; Substances which, in Contact with Water Emit Flammable Gases
  • Class 5—Oxidizing Substances and Organic Peroxides
  • Class 6—Toxic and Infectious Substances
  • Class 7—Radioactive Material
  • Class 8—Corrosives
  • Class 9—Miscellaneous Dangerous Substances and Articles, Including Environmentally Hazardous Substances

Reference the table below for examples of each class symbol.

Class 1


Class 2


Class 3

Flammable Liquids

Class 4

Flammable Solids; Substances Liable to Spontaneous Combustion; Substances which, in Contact with Water Emit Flammable Gases

Class 5

Oxidizing Substances and Organic Peroxides

Class 6

Toxic and Infectious Substances

Class 7

Radioactive Material

Class 8


Class 9

Miscellaneous Dangerous Substances and Articles, Including Environmentally Hazardous Substances

Where can I find shipping support?

Whether you are managing your own processes or you are using our logistics services, proper preparation is one way to help prevent delays or additional charges.

If you have questions about how you can better prevent freight issues, or just how to simplify your current transportation program, request a free supply chain analysis to get answers.

Start My Supply Chain Analysis