Pallet collection – a complete guide to sending palletised freight

IFL truck on motorway

An astonishing five billion pallets are in use around the world. Freight forwarders collect, carry and deliver all kinds of goods on them every day, and a single pallet may travel from Birmingham to Bora Bora – and back again – during its life cycle. As a business, you need to know how to get your goods from A to B (or Z) as safely, quickly and economically as possible.

Find out all you need to know about how to prepare, book and send palletised freight in our comprehensive guide.

Article contents

  1. What is a pallet?
  2. A guide to pallet sizes
  3. Preparing a pallet for collection
  4. How pallet delivery works
  5. How to book a pallet collection service
  6. Pallet collection dates and times
  7. Pallet collection prices
  8. Countries we deliver pallets to
  9. Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
  10. Book a pallet collection

What is a pallet?

A pallet provides a stable base for your goods. Its main function is to keep freight stable and safe in transit, and while being moved around by forklift and pallet trucks. Thanks to the humble pallet, goods can be shipped in bulk all around the world by road, sea or air transport.

Pallets are typically made of wood, and must be strong enough to support a range of weights. They are used for heavy, large or smaller items in bulk with goods secured on to pallets using strapping, shrink wrap or stretch wrap. Their design means a forklift can be used to load pallets onto the loading truck and minimise the risk of damage through manual handling.

While pallets perform a relatively simple purpose, pallet environments are becoming increasingly digitalised to improve supply chain efficiency. See, for example, how Palletways ID both collects and processes data using forklift truck-mounted sensors to improve health and safety, and track the condition of your pallet.

Pallet stats and facts

  • The modern two and four-way pallet is only 60 years old – patented in 1949.
  • Around 43 million new pallets are produced in the UK each year (source: Timcom, 2022)
  • Over 1.5 billion are produced worldwide each year (source: Timcom)
  • 5 million pallets were repaired in 2019 (source: Timcom)
  • 20-21 standard pallets (1m x 1.2m) fit inside a 40ft container (source: iContainers)
  • Over 45,000 pallets travel through our pallet network every day, delivering bricks to wine to gravel (source: Palletways)

A guide to pallet sizes

Customers often ask: what pallet size do I need? Answer: it depends on the goods you want to send.

Pallet sizes vary and so do the weight restrictions. The UK standard pallet size is 1m x 1.2m and can take up to 1,200kg. But there are actually six options to suit different needs and price your palletised goods more effectively.

  • Full pallet – 1.2m x 1m base x 2.2m high (max weight 1,200kg)
  • Light pallet – 1.2m x 1m base x 2.2m high (max weight 750kg)
  • Euro half pallet – 1.2m x 0.8m base x 2.2m high (max weight 500kg)
  • UK half pallet – 1.2m x 1m base x 1.2m high (max weight 500kg)
  • Quarter pallet – 1.2m x 1m base x 0.8m high (max weight 250kg)
  • Mini quarter pallet – 1.2m x 1m base x 0.6m high (max weight 150kg)

These can also be combined to allow for non-standard or oversized freight.

Palletways, our palletised freight network, also offers a larger pallet size of 1.2m x 1.2m offered as standard – so customers can get more for their money.

>> Find out more about Palletways larger size pallets

Preparing a pallet for collection

On average, the Palletways network – of which IFL is a member – handles your pallet 6-8 times during each journey. So you need to use good quality pallets that are correctly loaded. Cheaper pallets and poor loading risk damage in transit, and mean that your goods may not be collected and delivered in perfect condition, as you’d expect.

You must supply your own pallet and wrapping, and make sure that your pallet is suitable and stable for transportation.

Check how to load your items on to a pallet and how to secure them safely in the short video.

>>Read more: 10 short tips on how to prepare a pallet for shipping.

How pallet delivery works

IFL truck on motorway

Once freight has been palletised ready for transport, you can book to arrange a pallet collection – see below.

Your freight forwarder will either carry out the job themselves or via a pallet network with network members collecting and delivering to postcodes in their area. A pallet network makes pallet collection and delivery more efficient and opens up a larger network of destinations for customers. For example, IFL is a platinum member of Palletways – Europe’s largest palletised freight network – which offers a UK-wide overnight delivery service as well as 450 depots across Europe with 20 hubs delivering to 24 countries.

What happens next? There are three steps to getting your pallets delivered.

1 Pallet collection

You need to prepare your goods and book a collection slot. Depending on your location either International Forwarding (IFL), or one of our fellow Palletways network members, will collect your pallet.

2 Hub and processing

Once your pallet is safely secured and loaded, we either deliver direct or take it to our nearest Palletways hub – at Fradley in Lichfield, Staffordshire – to be processed and assigned to the local network member.

3 Delivery

Your pallet is then dispatched for delivery. You can track your pallet and get proof of delivery in real-time.

How to book a pallet collection service

Our customers send their products all around the UK, Europe and around the world. Booking is easy – simply:

Follow our checklist of information to help you get the best quote:

  • How many pallets are you sending?
  • What size and weight is your palletised freight?
  • What type of product?
  • Where are they going to?
  • Do your require premium or economy delivery? Or both.
  • Which pallet delivery suits your needs (express delivery, groupage)?

Once the job is booked, we’ll arrange to collect and deliver your palletised freight.

Some pallet collections can be more complex than others. If that’s the case, you may need a more bespoke solution. For example, extra logistical support in areas such as: warehousing logistics, cargo handling services, 3PL supply chain management or customs clearance services. Just get in touch to discuss what you need.

>> Find out more: Pallet transport through IFL and Palletways

Pallet collection dates and times

Pallet collection dates and times

Timings generally depend on whether delivery speed or budget is your key priority. You can easily set your preferred pallet collection date and time when you book.

At IFL, we usually deliver UK-bound pallets within 24 hours depending on location (express/premium service) or within 48-hour for the economy option (allow more time for Scottish Highlands and offshore islands). For pallets to and from Europe, services range from 48 hours express to five working days economy, depending on location.

We normally make pallet collections in the afternoon, ideally by 4pm. Morning collections and cut-offs later than 4pm need to be arranged in advance.

For UK freight, we also offer a two-hour ETA on pallet delivery, notified by SMS / email. This lets you can plan more effectively and means you or your customers aren’t waiting around all day for delivery.

Pallet collection prices

person in blue denim jeans using macbook pro

Palletised freight rates vary according to the size and weight of the shipment, where it is being collected from and going to, and your chosen delivery option. Prices start from around £49.80 exc VAT for a full pallet.

The more flexible you are on pallet delivery times, the lower the freight rates will be. Groupage transport is often the most cost-effective option, for example. This is where part-loads from multiple customers are consolidated into a single shipment and loaded onto trailers that leave regularly to different destinations. Groupage offers customers flexible, cheap and practical pallet delivery within the UK and when shipping to Europe.

Find out more: Benefits of groupage transport – and how it works

The fastest way to get a pallet collection price is to call for a spot quote on +44 (0)1675 434690 or by emailing enquiries@internationalforwarding.co.uk. If we can’t answer you right away, we’ll respond within 30 mins during office hours.

Countries we deliver pallets to

Italy

IFL delivers to all markets and destinations safely and securely – and has been doing so for more than 30 years. We’ve built a strong word-of-mouth reputation as a highly reliable freight forwarder and a trusted transport partner for many UK businesses. (You can read what our customers think about us here.)

We deliver pallets to and from Europe both through the Palletways network and our own selected transport partners. Wherever you need to ship to, we can help.

>> Find your destination

Frequently asked questions  – quick FAQs

Can I ship personal effects?

IFL doesn’t handle personal effects as this involves different shipping terms, insurances and exclusions from commercial freight. We can refer these enquiries on to a specialist company.

What size do I need?

The size of pallet you need will depend on the dimensions of your shipment but also its weight. See the pallet size and weight restrictions section above. If the width or length of the shipment goes over pallet size, this will often trigger an oversized pallet cost.

What time do I need to book for same day collection?

Usually by 12pm.

Can I specify an exact pallet collection time?

You can specify AM or PM. Through our Palletways membership, you can also get a two-hour estimated delivery time– with notifications providing we receive an email or mobile number.

How do I track my pallet?

When you book with us you will have access to Palletways award-winning online portal, where you can book collections and track your shipments. Simply enter your tracking number and you’ll be able to see live tracking information throughout the delivery.

Book a pallet collection

To book a pallet collection, here’s how to contact us:

Request a quote

To allow us to provide a more accurate quotation, please fill in the form detailing your requirements.

Upon receipt of your enquiry one of our logistics managers will send over your tailored quotation within 1 hour.

Please note: we do not ship personal effects.