A Beginner Guide to International Packaging Symbols

A Beginner Guide to International Packaging Symbols

How often have we come across certain symbols on packaged goods and completely disregarded them? Countless, right? These symbols mean something, and if you are unaware of the meanings, fear not, for here is a simple yet helpful guide to these packaging symbols! 

International Packaging Symbols

International packaging symbols are certain symbols illustrated on packages to characterize them. These symbols help in identifying the contents of the package and the handling that it requires. They are known as international symbols as they are used worldwide. This ensures that the delivery and management of different packages are done properly. 

Packing Symbols

Importance of Packaging Symbols

Packaging symbols are an important part of the packaging. These symbols make it easier to understand how much care a certain package might need. Putting these symbols on packages ensures that the product inside reaches the consumer safely and in the condition they want. The importance of these symbols is further enhanced by their ability to overcome issues such as language barriers. Even if the delivery partners do not understand the language of the package, these symbols would be recognized and understood instantly as they are used worldwide. 

Now let’s get into the interesting part! Some of the most commonly used symbols are;

Cracked Wine Glass/Fragile 

This symbol indicates that the product inside the box is fragile and can break, so the package should be handled with care. This symbol is usually used for packages containing glass products. 

Fragile Sign | Free SVG


A package with this symbol means that the contents inside should be kept from water at all times. This means the package should be kept dry and away from damp storage areas. 

Silhouette vector clip art of umbrella

Upward arrows

The two upward arrows signify that the package should be facing up where the arrows are pointing. Such packages should only be rolled over or stored facing up, as the arrows indicate. 

Up arrows couple sign for packaging - Free arrows icons

X over a hook 

An X over a hook means that no hooks should be used when handling a package with such a symbol on it. 

do not use hand hooks Icon - Free PNG & SVG 4051759 - Noun Project

Number of Stacks 

Sometimes a certain number is attached to the package. This number symbol is the stacking heights symbol. It refers to the height a package can be stored on top of other boxes. For example, if the symbol says ‘8’, then the package can be stored above eight boxes and no more. 

Stacking Height


A package with a flame symbol is flammable, meaning the product inside can catch and cause a fire. Such packages should be kept away from heat. 


Handle with care

This symbol is for packages containing fragile items or small components. It is to ensure that such packages are handled with caution and care. 

Handle with Care


When a thermometer symbol is attached to a package, the items inside must be stored at a specific temperature. This symbol is usually used for food packages. 



The trolley symbol means that a trolley should be used to move the package. This can also mean that the box needs to be lifted and put back down safely. 


Food Safe

This symbol has a wine glass and a fork, meaning that the items inside the box are food safe. Food safe means that such items can come into contact with food items without causing any harmful effects. 

Food safe symbol

Heavy item

Such a symbol on a box indicates that it is too heavy to be lifted by a person, so one should be extra careful when lifting such packages to avoid hurting themselves. 

Caution lifting (heavy) symbol

Could you not open it with a knife?

This symbol is for packages with contents that might get damaged with a knife on them, suggesting that a knife should not be used to open the package to avoid damaging the items inside.


Do not stack

This symbol is used for packages that have content that might not be able to handle the pressure of another package on top of it. To avoid spoiling the product, stacking is condemned by this symbol. 

Do not stack packaging symbol label | TR10204 | Label Source

Two people lifting a box

This symbol suggests that the package should be handled and lifted by two people instead of just one person, as the items inside are too heavy for just one person. 

2 person lift symbol

3 Arrows loop

This is one of the most important symbols. The package can be recycled when this symbol is present on the package. The recyclable material might be the packaging or the product itself. 

Mobius loop recycling symbol


This symbol is a general warning. It means that one should be cautious while handling the package. This can also indicate that the package contains dangerous material that might need extra care. 

Caution packaging symbol

These are only some of the used international packaging symbols, with many more still waiting to be learned, but even with only these, your packaging knowledge is now better than ever!