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Guide to Standard Pallet Sizes and Dimensions

rows of pallets stacked outside with a blue sky that is partly cloudy
Rows of pallets

The supply chain and logistics industry play a pivotal role in the distribution of goods within society and a fundamental element of this framework is the pallet. Pallets bear the weight of material loads while also protecting the product by absorbing impacts during transport. This post offers an overview of essential information regarding pallet dimensions and features pallet dimension charts sanctioned by the International Standardization Organization. You will also find specific types of pallets and their dimensions used in North America and Europe, as well as an overview of the materials used to construct pallets with common uses included. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment in our comment section below!

Pallet Dimensions Vary

As previously mentioned, pallets are a critical shipping tool in the world because they stabilize stacked loads during the loading and unloading process as well as during transport. They not only help with stability, but they also increase efficiency of the overall system because they allow for easier, quicker, and safer movement of stacked goods. Pallets are customized to accommodate a variety of different products for shipping which makes them a valuable tool for warehouses, logistics professionals, and retail companies.

different pallet types stacked outside on cement
Different pallet types

Seeing that pallets are modified to meet the specific needs of the industry they were built for, pallet sizes vary by region. Major regions have their own standard sizes because of this, for example the standard size in the United States is 48.00” x 40.00” while in Australia it is 45.90” x 45.90”. This variation resulted in logistical issues when shipping between countries, and now with increasing globalization and trade, it became necessary to establish an international standard. 

International Standardization Organization

The International Standardization Organization, founded in 1947, responded to the need in the market at the request of industry stake-holders and sanctioned 6 standard pallet sizes via expert consensus.1 The updated six standard sizes as of 2014 are as follows: 

International Standardization Organization (ISO)  – 6 sizes

RegionDimensions in inches (WxL)Dimensions mm (WxL)
North America 40.00 x 48.001,016 × 1,219
Europe31.50 x 47.42800 × 1,200
Australia44.88 x 44.881,165 × 1,165
Asia43.30 x 43.301,100 × 1,100
Europe – Asia39.37 x 47.241,000 × 1,200
North America – Europe – Asia42.00 x 42.001,067 × 1,067

Although there are still many different pallet sizes used within each region, this development helped to simplify international shipping. Before diving into the common dimensions by region, please note the list of the most common types of pallet structures.

The most common types of pallet structure can be summarized in five categories: 

  1. Two-way pallets: unnotched with forklift openings on two ends and are less expensive.
  2. Partial four-way pallets: Have standard forklift openings on two ends and smaller openings on the other two ends.
  3. Four-way pallets: Have forklift openings on all four sides and are more expensive.
  4. Stringer pallets: Built using 2″ x 4″ wood, plastic, or metal. They have two-way forklift openings. 
  5. Block pallets: Tend to be sturdier because they are made with parallel and perpendicular stringers, have four-way forklift entry, and consist of nine blocks, usually 4″ x 4″ or 4″ x 6″. 

Now, below are charts organized to show the various types and sizes in both North America and Europe.

North American Pallet Sizes

In North America, the most common pallet size is 40.00” x 48.00”, followed by 42.00” x 42.00” and 48.00” x 48.00”. They are most frequently made of wood, and the load capacity depends on the material used to manufacture the pallet, the number of runners included, and the structure of the top and bottom deck boards. The average 48.00” x 40.00” pallet in North America has the following characteristics:

  • Top Deck Boards: 7
  • Bottom Deck Boards: 5
  • Stringer Number: 3
  • Safe Maximum Load: 4592 lbs.
  • Average Pallet Weight: 37 lbs.

The runners are 6 ½” tall, the deck boards typically measure 3 ½” wide and 5/16” thick. These pallets are commonly referred to as GMA (Grocery Manufacturers Association) pallets and they account for roughly 30% of the pallets used in the U.S.

North American Pallet Dimensions

Pallet Size (WxL)Pallet Size (WxL)Pallet WeightMaximum LoadTypical Industry
48 x 401219 x 101637 lbs 4592 lbs Military, Cement
40 x 481016 x 121942 lbs3696 lbsDry Goods, Dairy, Produce
42 x 421067 x 106736 lbs4445 lbsTelecommunications, Paint
48 x 481219 x 121937 lbs4673 lbsDrums
48 x 421219 x 106735 lbs4333 lbsChemical, Beverage
40 x 40 1016 x 101629 lbs3544 lbsDairy
36 x 36914 x 91432 lbs3544 lbsBeverage
42 x 311067 x 78733 lbs6585 lbsTiles
48 x 36 1219 x 91431 lbs5261 lbsBeverage, Shingles, Packaged Paper
48 x 451219 x 1143Automotive

As for Europe, pallet sizes have been reduced down to four common sizes2.

EUR-PalletDimensions Inches (WxL)Dimensions mm (WxL)
EUR 1 – Same as ISO 31.50 in × 47.24 in880 x 1,200
EUR 247.24 in × 39.37 in1,200 x 1,000
EUR 339.37 in × 47.24 in1,000 x 1,200
EUR 631.50 in × 23.62 in800 x 600

What are pallets made of?

Wood is the most common material used for pallet construction, and although plastic, metal, and paper are used as well they make up less than 5% of the market collectively. The material used affects the cost of production, shipping (due to weight implications), and the lifespan of the pallets, so naturally the choice of which material to use is a significant decision that affects downstream cost.

  • Wood

Wooden pallets are by far the most common form and are usually made of recycled wood or ‘waste lumber’ – lumber not fit for other purposes due to aesthetic reasons. The specifications for pallet construction rely on the intended use of the pallet. Is it storing chemicals? Food? If so, there are bio-hazard concerns when it comes to wooden pallets because they are more difficult to clean compared to plastic or metal pallets. Consequently, wooden pallets are subject to International Plant Protection Convention3 (IPPC) regulation unlike plastic, metal, or paper pallets. In essence, these regulations attempt to prevent the spread of invasive insect and plant species or diseases through wooden pallets, which necessitates that the wood is always debarked, heat treated at 56 degrees Celsius or 132.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and undergo chemical fumigation.

brown stacked wooden pallets with a white background
Wooden pallets

Wooden pallets can be split into two categories in terms of material: softwood pallets and hardwood pallets. Softwood is the cheaper of the two, and is constructed in such a way that they can only be lifted by a forklift from two sides. Hardwood pallets are pricier but more versatile, and can be lifted from all four sides with a forklift or pallet jack. Wooden pallets are good for repetitive use and can even be treated to prevent insect damage, although they do occasionally leave behind shards and nails as they deteriorate. They are considered cost-effective and environmentally sustainable, as they can be recycled, while still providing a sturdy and durable shipping platform. 

  • Paper

Paper pallets are less common and are considered more eco-friendly than other pallets. While they are unfit for heavy-duty or long term use, they are desirable for the pharmaceutical and tech industries because paper pallets are cleaner than wooden pallets, making them better fit for sensitive goods. Furthermore, they are sometimes as light as 10 pounds, thinner, and more flexible than other types of pallets, which can allow for higher cargo weight considering common weight limits. The strength of paper pallets lies in the money that can be saved from the weight reduction. This makes them a popular choice for air freight. However, paper pallets are ideal only for single use tasks and are typically only used for light to medium duty shipping. Notably, paper pallets can sometimes be favorable in international shipping because they are not subject to the same treatment processes that wooden pallets are subject to. 

brown cardboard pallet on grey ground
Paper pallet
  • Plastic 

Plastic pallets come with a higher price tag compared to wooden alternatives, but for certain industries this investment is worthwhile. There are some reasons for this, the first being that plastic pallets are more resistant to weather conditions, chemical spills, food contamination, and dirt such that plastic can be easily cleaned and reused. Shippers and receivers can eliminate concerns about dust, wooden shards, or nails when using plastic pallets. Also, plastic pallets are typically made of recycled material, if they are damaged they can be broken down and reformed into a new pallet. The strength of plastic pallets seems to be that they exhibit a much longer lifespan than wooden pallets and can be used repeatedly with little damage.4

stacked plastic pallets outside in many different colors with a blue sky background
Stacked plastic pallets
  • Metal/Aluminum 

Metal/aluminum pallets are well-suited for handling heavy loads. Their durability makes them a popular choice for transporting heavy machinery and equipment. Interestingly enough, they are often made entirely of recycled materials, and like plastic pallets, reduce concerns of debris, dirt, or nails. Their resistance to weather elements and insects adds to their appeal, making them a reliable choice when the shipment will be exposed to the weather or outdoor storage. However, they are notably much heavier than the alternatives and this has important implications for shipping costs. While these pallets are durable and can hold weights that other pallets cannot, it’s worth mentioning that metal/aluminum pallets typically come with a higher initial cost. When deciding which pallet material is needed, the costs of metal pallets need to be weighed against their extended lifespan, reduced maintenance, and the potential for recycling, which contributes to a sustainable supply chain. The decision to invest in metal/aluminum pallets may hinge on the specific needs of the industry and the overall cost-benefit analysis.

stacked silver metal pallets
Stacked metal pallets


  1. “ISO 6780:2003 – Flat pallets for intercontinental materials handling — Principal dimensions and tolerances”. International Organization for Standardization.
  2. “The Open Pallet Pool”, EPAL,
  3. International Plant Protection Convention, “Revision of ISPM No. 15 Regulation of Wood Packaging Material in International Trade (2009)”,
  4. Lee, S. G. (March 2004), “A simplified life cycle assessment of re-usable and single-use bulk transit packaging”, Packaging Technology and Science, 17 (2): 67–83, doi:10.1002/pts.643, S2CID 110349416

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