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North American Pallet (GMA): Sizes and Specifications

Containers & Pallets
4 min read
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When it comes to shipping heavy or large goods, pallets are the best option. Palletizing your shipment not only protects it but also helps the loading and unloading process. Pallets are cost-effective as they are a great way for logistics businesses to maximize space in their trucks.

Types of North American Pallet

North American pallets are typically crafted from different materials. They have different thicknesses, heights, and widths. However, there are only two standard North American pallets. They are:

Stringer pallets

The most common type of these pallets is the 4-way stringer pallet. It has four sides, which allows for an easy forklift. Also, there is the 2-way stringer pallet, which has just two sides.

Block pallets

They also have a 4-way entry that allows for easy forklift access. Typically, block pallets can handle heavier freight.

There are various materials used in making pallets. They are:

  • Softwood pallets: They are the cheapest option and are often thrown away immediately after use.
  • Plastic pallets: They are more expensive than wood pallets. However, they are durable and strong.
  • Hardwood pallets: They are sturdier than softwood. They are great for long-term use and are quite expensive.
  • Paper pallets: Paper pallets are environment friendly. Shippers also refer to them as eco-pallets.
  • Metal pallets: They are the strongest, most expensive, and most durable option.

Regular shippers can be sure of the safety of their freight with any of these pallet options. However, they should consider the weight of their shipment and intended life cycle, amongst other factors.


Furthermore, there are specific government regulations on these types of North American pallets. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made some adjustments to its rules regarding wood packaging materials (WPM). It adopted the international standard for WPM, which the IPPC later approved in 2002, on the 15th of March.

According to the new regulations, most wood packaging materials have to be fumigated with methyl bromide or treated with heat to eliminate the import of pests. Also, there should be an international mark to certify that their treatment. The rule became effective on the 16th of September 2005, and it affects all importation using WPM.

Additionally, importers whose freight doesn’t meet the USDA requirement won’t be able to ship their goods to the United States. There are other alternatives to WPM that are approved by the USDA that importers can choose from.

North American Pallet Dimensions

There are several standard pallet sizes around the world. However, in the U.S., only the North American pallet or GMA pallet sizes are allowed. The American pallet sizes typically can carry up to 4600 lbs, and they weigh 37 lbs apiece. The most common American pallet dimensions are 48” x 40”, 42” x 42”, and 48” x 48”.

Here is a table showing their dimensions in cm:

Dimensions in cmDimensions in mmIndustries that commonly use
121.9 x 101.61219 x 1016Mostly grocery
106.7 x 106.71067 x 1067Paint and telecommunications
121.9 x 121.91219 x 1219Drums
121.9 x 106.71219 x 1067Beverage and chemicals
101.6 x 101.61016 x 1016Dairy
121.9 x 114.31219 x 1143Automotive
111.8 x 111.81118 x 1118Chemicals and drums
121.9 x 50.81219 x 508Retail
91.4 x 91.4914 x 914Beverage
121.9 x 91.41219 x 914Packaged paper, shingles, and beverage
88.9x 115.6889 x 1156Military 0.5 ISO Container
101.6 x 121.91016 x 1219Cement and military

To Sum It Up

In summary, the Grocer’s Manufacturers Association (GMA) is the standard pallet size for North American pallets. Shippers importing their freight into the U.S are to carefully note the sizes. Also, they need to decide which is most appropriate for their shipment.

Additionally, there are different materials used in making pallets. However, the most durable type of pallet is a metal pallet. For environmentally-conscious shippers, they can use paper pallets or eco-pallets. They are recyclable and eco-friendly.

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