Standard Pallet Sizes with ChartsPosted On 13th November 2023
Many people use pallets when shipping goods by freight. There are several benefits to this choice, including the solid protection they provide to keep goods from moving during transportation and the ease of movability when employing a forklift or pallet jack.
Furthermore, although pallets are already fairly economical, you can also reuse pallets several times, which further cuts down on shipping costs.
The other nice thing about pallets is that pallet sizes are standardized across the industry. It’s important to recognize that not all pallets are the same, despite the existence of standard pallet sizes in most regions.
In addition to standard pallet sizes vary depending on what type of goods you’re transporting and what region you’re located in, pallets can also consist of different materials. Wooden pallets and plastic pallets are the two most common, but they are not the only types of pallets you’ll find.
In this article, we’ll break down the major differences between common pallet dimensions and sizes to help you better understand what standard dimensions pallets are available for you to choose from. We’ll also tell you what types of pallets are typically used in different locations throughout the world based on each region’s standard pallet size in feet and other relevant factors.
What Are the Standard Pallet Sizes
Obviously, it’s important to know what a standard pallet size is when planning shipments and researching what type of pallet is best for your goods. Throughout this article, we’ll use charts to break down the different sizes and makeups of pallets that you’ll commonly find in freight shipping.
Let’s look at this first pallet size chart to determine what pallet size standards exist in each country:
Wasted floor ISO (International Organization for Standardization)
3.7% (20 pallets in 40ft ISO)
North America (United States, Canada, Mexico)
Europe, Asia (similar to 40x48)
North America, Europe, Asia
Europe (fits many doorways)
Although the average pallet size is between 39 and 48 inches on each side, there is not a standard pallet size that freight shippers always use. As you’ll learn from the chart below, the size of a pallet may be different depending on what type of items you’re shipping.
North American Pallet Sizes
If you ask somebody what the pallet dimensions standard is in the United States, they will likely bring up a 48x40 pallet. GMA pallets are the most commonly used pallets in North America, but as you’ll notice on the pallet size chart below, the dimensions of a pallet vary broadly across different industries.
So where does this common misconception about the standard dimensions of a pallet come from?
The Consumer Brand Association (CBA) says that a standard-size pallet is 48x40 inches. This group was once called the GMA, and despite their organizational name change, many people still refer to 48x40-inch pallets as GMA pallets. These pallets can also be called CHEP pallets, and if you hear someone refer to CHEP pallet dimensions, you know they are speaking about 48x40 pallets.
This pallet size may be the most common, but answering the question of what are the dimensions of a pallet is not that easy. We’ll share more information about common dimensions of a pallet in the chart below:
Safe max load
Pallets per 48’ dry van
Pallets per 53’ dry van
Up to 4,592lb
Grocery stores, other fast-
moving consumer goods (FMCGs)
Up to 4,445lbs
Up to 4,673lbs
Up to 4,600lbs
Up to 3,696lbs
Up to 3,544lbs
Up to 4,825
Up to 3,544lbs
Up to 5,261lbs
Beverage, shingles, packaged paper
Up to 6,585lbs
Military ½ ISO container, fits 36” standard doors
European Pallet Dimensions
Euro pallet dimensions are not the same as what you’ll see used regularly in North America.
Let’s take a look at the chart below to learn about pallet dimension standards across European countries:
EURO Pallet Type
ISO Pallet Alternative
EUR, EUR 1
ISO1 (same size as EUR)
ISO0 (half the size of EUR)
¼ the size of EUR
⅛ the size of EUR
Asian Pallet Dimensions
Both common Asian pallet size dimensions are approved by ISO. However, some feel that the 39.37x47.24 inch pallet is better suited to transport items to Europe or North America because of how effectively these standard pallet size dimensions integrate into these continents’ shipping systems:
Australian Pallet Sizes
The pallet size standard in Australia is 45.9 by 45.9 inches:
Australia, New Zealand
Why Are Standard Pallet Sizes Important?
Standard pallet dimensions are very helpful for carriers as they develop plans and strategies for transporting goods. Without a pallet dimensions standard, shippers wouldn’t know what to expect when developing storage and handling systems.
The dimensions of a pallet also matter as freight shippers consider how they can best maximize space in their trailers. As they figure out how to fit the maximum number of pallets into a designated space, they must consider the size of a pallet when making their plans.
How Much Does a Pallet Weigh
Whether talking about wood pallet dimensions or another material, pallet weights can vary with the use of different materials. The chart below will provide more insight into wooden pallet dimensions as well as other commonly used pallets:
GMA (Grocery Manufacturers Association) Wooden Pallet
Lightweight Plastic Pallet
Heavy Duty Plastic Pallets
Average Weight Based on Pallet Materials
When talking about a standard pallet size, wooden pallet sizes are usually one of the first topics to come up.
Standard pallet wood dimensions usually dictate a weight between 30 and 40 pounds, making them one of the heavier pallets available. A standard-size GMA pallet with ⅝-inch boards typically weighs around 40 pounds, while a wooden pallet with ½-inch boards might only weigh 35 pounds or so. Note: this is for standard pallets when they are new. A larger non-standard pallet 42" x 55" can weight 75 lbs; also older wooden pallets absorb, over time, water, and can be much heavier than a new pallet.
Types of Pallets Used in Transportation
Obviously, there are many types of pallets you can choose from. Broadly speaking, pallets fall into five categories:
- Stringer pallets. These pallets are built with 2x4 inch wood, plastic, and metal pieces called stringers. These are the boards that connect the top and bottom boards to provide additional support.
- Block pallets. Block pallets are usually a little sturdier than stringer pallets. They include cylindrical posts that support the top deck.
- Solid deck pallets. This is a broad category of pallets that can vary significantly. For example, some solid deck pallets have a top board, while others don’t.
- Double face pallet. Double-face pallets have decks on the pallet’s top and bottom, as the name would suggest. This bottom deck strengthens the pallet and better distributes weight across its surface.
- Double wing pallet. Double-wing pallets appear as though they have wings, but it’s only because the top and bottom deck boards go past the pallet’s stringers.
In addition, GMA pallets account for over 30% of all pallets used in the United States. GMA specifications dictate that all pallets used for the distribution of food and beverages meet some of the same dimensions and specifications.
GMA pallets' dimensions are 48 in x 40 in. GMA pallets must also have a minimum load-bearing capacity of 2,500 pounds as well as a four-way forklift entry with two side notches.
GMA pallets can also be Grade A or Grade B. Grade A pallets are in the best condition and should only have slight discoloration if there are any signs of use. Grade B pallets may appear more worn, and they might even show past stringers repaired. Although Grade A pallets are the preferred choice, Grade B pallets are often used because they are more affordable.
Specialized pallets also exist for different uses and purposes, which is why the chart below is so extensive. Your pallet choice will come down to several factors, including the size and weight of your shipment and the specific product you’re transporting:
Common regions used
Timber block pallet (North American standard)
USA, Italy, New Zealand
Most European countries, Latin America, UK, India, New Zealand
Wooden and metal pallets
Most European countries, UK, South Africa
Wooden pallet (1)
Wooden Pallet (2)
Most European countries, the United Kingdom, South Africa, India
Wooden pallet (3)
Wooden pallet (3 runners)
Wooden pallet (New Zealand standard)
Perimeter wooden pallet
Timer half pallet
Bearer pallet (1)
Nambia, South Africa
Bearer pallet (2)
Nambia, South Africa
Wooden pallet (Australian standard)
Australia, New Zealand
Plastic pallet (New Zealand standard)
Plastic display pallet (1)
Most European countries
Plastic display pallet (2)
Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom
Blue shield plastic pallet
China, Thailand, South Africa
Plastic pallet (3 runners)
Automotive pallet (US standard)
USA, Canada, Mexico
Automotive half pallet
Most European countries, Brazil, Argentina
Most European countries, Brazil, Argentina
Choosing the Right Pallet Type for Your Shipment
Picking the right pallet for your shipment starts with determining what pallet size you need. The ideal standard pallet dimensions vary based on what goods you’re shipping and what region you’re in, but it should be a size from one of the charts above to meet area standards.
How to Prepare and Ship a Pallet
Once you determine the right pallet size and pallet dimensions for your shipment, it’s time to begin preparing to move your load. The best thing you can do is make sure your items are properly secured to the pallet. Whether you use strapping or shrink wrapping, your items must be balanced and packaged tightly to ensure they aren’t damaged during transport.
If you choose to strap your pallets, you should use at least two straps and feed them through the forks on the pallet. Once you finish, double-check to make sure straps are securely tightened or ratcheted for an optimal secure fit.
Perhaps you prefer to shrink-wrap your pallet. If so, wrap around your pallets at least five times, and go tightly enough that the shipment feels like one solid piece when you’re done.
If you’re concerned about a fragile shipment, consider using a crush cone when transporting your item. This will tell the carrier that your item is fragile and shouldn’t have other pallets stacked on top of it. Crush cones are small, triangular cones that you can place on top of your shipment with packing tape or straps.
Before we wrap up, here are a few final tips for pallet shipping:
- Choose the right freight shipping carrier. Set aside enough time to do your research to learn about each carrier’s reputation and strengths. Consider using a carrier that specializes in the type of goods you’re shipping.
- Distribute the weight evenly. Uneven weight distribution can damage the pallet and put your items at risk of harm as well. Make sure you place heavier items on the bottom and save the light items for the top. This approach will support better balance and stability throughout the process.
- Track your shipment. You’ll typically receive a tracking number for your shipment so you can follow its progress until it reaches the final destination. If you notice any issues, you can communicate with your client and your driver to eliminate issues and mitigate risk.
- For Export or Import Shipments it can be tricky with Wooden Pallets. No country wants alien pests to come inside the wooden pallets and spread in their country. The IPPC or International Plant Protection Convention attempts to prevent the spread of non-native bugs that would damage plants and the ecosystem in the importing country. Look into the ISPM-15 standard for pallets that the IPPC has promoted and, in addition, check with an import clearance agent at the port of destination to learn about particular paperwork they may require in advance regarding Fumigation, Bug-Free, type of skids used, etc.