Scrap Metal Export Specifications

Written by robert alley
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Scrap Metal Export Specifications
Scrap metal must be inspected before shipping overseas. (scrap heap image by hazel proudlove from

Taking old metal, commonly called scrap, and recycling it is an environmentally sound idea and a profitable business due to the demand worldwide -- especially in India and Asia -- for the product. Opportunities in the exporting of scrap metal exist but so do pitfalls. Certain specifications must be met by exporters in order to take advantage of the opportunities.


Containers loaded with scrap metal for foreign customers do not have to be formally inspected at the port, according to American Recycler, a monthly trade publication. However, port authorities randomly scan all overseas shipments for chemicals and radiation. Exporters must file a declaration that the scrap metal containers are free of such contaminants. As a result, scrap metal must be inspected by exporters to ensure compliance and to avoid potential rejection at the port.

Container Size

Containers for overseas shipments come in standard sizes: All are 8 feet wide. The length of the container differentiates the units; these lengths range from 10 to 40 feet in 10-foot increments. The containers come in either full-height or half-height sizes. Full-height sizes are either 8.5 or 9.5 feet tall. When packing scrap metal for export, due to weight limits on containers, exporters sometimes resort to half-height containers, either 4.25 or 4.3 feet tall, to increase the number of containers and amount of scrap metal shipped.

Weight Limits

According to Export911, every container carries a rating: the maximum permissible weight for the container and its cargo. The weight of the empty container is known as the tare mass. The weight of the scrap metal payload must not exceed the container's rating minus its tare mass. Every container for overseas shipment must have its rating, tare mass and payload displayed on the outside of the container.

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