Container Fumigation

Pest Control on the High Seas

One of the least known and most important steps in the ocean freight process is container fumigation.

As a general rule, almost all countries have fumigation requirements for all arriving and departing ocean going containers. As a safety issue, container fumigation is a critical step in making sure diseases and pest of all kinds aren’t able to migrate freely across the globe.

If one takes a close look at containers arriving in a port, one will notice the fumigation documentation that accompanies each container that tell the receiver what fumigation chemicals were used and one types of disease and pests this specific fumigant was designed to control. 

The Fumigation Process 

Wood containers, packaging or wood as a product to be transported is the most common target of fumigation in containers. Pests like the Asian beetle, gypsy moth and other bugs could quickly take over if released into a country that does not have natural enemies of these pests. Therefore, it is incumbent to fumigation of each container is a must for all international cargo. 

Professionally trained and equipped fumigation experts are typically available at all major ports, so having your cargo properly treated is usually taken care of by the freight forwarder. 

There are 2 types of fumigation done to ocean going cargo:

1. FCL fumigation happens when a fully loaded container is sealed and fumigant is pumped into the container and held there for a prescribed amount of time until the targeted pests are suffocated.

2. The second type of fumigation takes place on loose container loads where not all of the contents needs to be fumigated. The operator will isolate the targeted goods and seal their area with plastic sheets to shield the rest of the cargo from the fumigant. 

Occasionally, empty containers are also fumigated if they will be traveling to be positioned in another location or port. 

Not all cargo needs to be fumigated 

Because fumigation does add time and expense to the ocean freight shipping process, there is a growing trend toward shipping materials that aren’t required to be fumigated. 

The most popular type of packaging that doesn’t need fumigation is plastic, either as a wrapping or as a plastic pallet for the goods to travel on. 

When container fumigation is not necessary

Fumigation is not necessary for cardboards, plastic pallets, or any other non-wood, “man-made” material. Therefore, shippers prefer to use plastic packaging and get away with fumigation time and fees.

There are government websites that list those types of materials that are exempt from fumigation requirements. 

Fumigation Costs 

Fumigating cargo can vary widely depending on the type of fumigation, where in the world the fumigation is taking place, and the size of complexity of the cargo. 

If you are unsure of how to estimate fumigation costs, we would suggest you to contact us, as a professional freight forwarder, we will make sure your cargo is treated correctly and economically. 

Frequent Asked Questions 

When is container fumigation necessary?

Container fumigation may be necessary if the goods being transported are susceptible to pest infestation, or if the destination country requires fumigation as part of their import regulations. Shipping companies will typically provide guidance on whether fumigation is necessary for a specific shipment.

What chemicals are used for container fumigation?

The chemicals used for container fumigation will depend on the type of pest being targeted and the regulations in the destination country. Common fumigants include methyl bromide, phosphine, and sulfuryl fluoride. Shipping companies will ensure that all fumigants used are safe and approved for use in international shipping.

Is container fumigation safe for the environment?

The chemicals used for container fumigation are highly regulated and approved for use in international shipping. However, there are still concerns about the potential impact on the environment. Shipping companies will take appropriate measures to ensure that fumigation is performed safely and responsibly, including following all relevant regulations and guidelines.

Ask Us about Container Fumigation now