Packaging plays a huge part in ensuring that people handle parcels with the appropriate level of care, ensuring that no one gets injured when handling or storing packages. We’re all relatively familiar with seeing various symbols on our boxes, but what do they mean?

If you’ve ever found yourself scratching your head at the sight of packaging symbols, you’re in the right place. The Packaging Company has compiled this complete guide to some of the most common packaging symbols you’ll likely see when you’re packaging orders.

To find out more about these symbols, keep reading.

Do Not Open With A Knife

While your customers might think it’s much easier to plunge a knife into a box to retrieve their items, there are certain scenarios where they shouldn’t do this. To avoid them inflicting any damage to their products, it’s important to add a ‘do not open with a knife’ symbol to a box.

This consists of a square box with a crossed-out box cutter in the middle. Including this symbol ensures that customers don’t damage their products before they’ve gotten the chance to enjoy them!

Flammable Materials

There are many materials that we use every day that are highly flammable, such as cosmetic products, polyester and acrylic clothing materials and oils that are highly combustible. So, it’s important for your shipping partners and your customers to avoid flames when handling their packages.

To provide a bit of extra warning, it’s worth putting a ‘flammable materials’ sign on a box. This is a super simple symbol that consists of a rectangular box with a large flame in it. This should be placed on all boxes with flammable materials, chemicals or paper products inside.

This Side Up

A ‘this side up’ sign is one of the most common signs for packages. This sign with two vertical arrows pointing towards the top of a package simply means that the box should never be carried or placed upside down to ensure the contents don’t break in transit. This also helps customers understand which side of the box they need to open.


If you’ve ever bought crockery online, then you’re probably very familiar with this sign. The image of a cracked wine glass highlights that the contents of the package contain fragile materials. This sign is a must if you’re shipping glass, fine china or easily breakable goods. This ensures that your shipping partners know to take extra care when handling these packages.

Handle With Care

Of course, no one should be throwing boxes around during the shipping process, no matter what the contents are, but there are specific products and materials that need extra care when handling.

If you see a pair of hands cupping a slightly smaller box, then you’ve come across a ‘handle with care’ symbol.

This symbol means that the box likely contains materials and products that can be easily damaged. This tells shippers that they mustn’t stack the box and must carry this package carefully at all times.

Keep Dry

No one likes soggy products, especially if the products aren’t waterproof, so to avoid packages being left out in the rain, you can include a ‘keep dry’ symbol. This is a simple umbrella symbol that shows shipping partners that they shouldn’t leave this out in the rain at any point.

Do Not Stack

Pressure damage is common, so it’s important to protect your packages against damage in the warehousing and shipping process. To avoid sensitive products being damaged by stacking or pressure, you can include a ‘do not stack’ symbol on the side of a package. This consists of two boxes on top of each other with a cross over them.

Do Not Lift

No one wants an injured back after lifting a heavy box, so if you see an image of a person with gesture lines around their lower back, this means that the package has a ‘do not lift’ sign. To move these packages, you’ll usually need the help of another person or trolley to move this safely around a warehouse facility or around a home.

FSC Sign

In an effort to live more sustainably, businesses are finding ways of making their shipping processes more eco-friendly. To do this, suppliers can use FSC-certified packages to signify sustainable materials.

If you see a symbol with a tree combined with a tick and FSC written underneath, this means that the package is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. This council ensures that businesses seek and buy materials from recycled sources or from well-managed forests.

Trolley Lifting

Trolley lifting signs are an important way of signaling to users that they’ll need to use a trolley to shift their boxes.

This is usually because the box is either too heavy or has an uneven weight distribution that will make it very difficult to carry safely. If you see a trolley with two stacked boxes on it, then you should use a trolley to move your packages.

Contact The Packaging Company Today If You Are In Need Of High-Quality Packaging Solutions!

If you’re looking for high-quality packaging solutions and packaging supplies alongside exceptional customer service, look no further than The Packaging Company.

We pride ourselves on offering comprehensive shipping supplies to our customers across the U.S. and Canada, with a wide variety of eco-friendly and custom packaging options. Order from The Packaging Company today!