What is Dry Cargo?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2019
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Dry cargo is a term that is used to describe goods that are solid and dry, and require no special types of precautions during the shipping process. Goods of this type are not any form of gas or liquid, and may be shipped in containers that do not have any type of temperature control equipment included. There are a number of types of goods that may be considered dry cargo, including some dry good products, metals like iron or steel, and even some types of food grains that have a higher tolerance to heat or cold.

Dry cargo shipping is considered to be relatively simple to accomplish. Goods included in this type of shipment require nothing more than proper packing and storage within then shipping container in order to be transported from a point of origin to a point of destination. Products of this type are highly unlikely to spoil even if extreme heat or cold is experienced during the shipment process. Since the dry cargo represents less expense for the shipper to ensure that the goods arrive in usable condition, the costs assessed for the shipping process are typically lower than the costs of shipping goods that require additional special handling.


A dry cargo container is normally airtight, effectively preventing any outside element from damaging the goods that are being shipped. This is true whether the goods are being sent via rail, over the road, or by water. Dry cargo ships, trucks, and rail cars normally do not include equipment to keep the internal temperature of the shipping containers within a given range, since the dry goods are not impacted by temperature changes. Typically, the potential for moisture entering the container, as well as damage sustained if the goods shift during transport, are the two areas of concern when shipping any type of dry cargo.

Many nations provide specific regulations regarding the shipment of dry cargo within their borders. In addition, the process of importing or exporting this type of cargo is also normally covered in governmental trade regulations between the two countries involved. Shippers observe these regulations and also tend to inform their clients of what precautions should be taken in preparing the goods for shipment, what type of loading and unloading processes will be involved, and what to expect in terms of charges for providing the shipping service. When followed properly, the chances of contamination due to exposure to moisture, or damage caused by shifting during transport are minimized, allowing the goods to arrive at their intended destination in the same condition as when they left their port of origin.


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