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Learn the Lingo - 53ft dry trailer pallet layouts

Don't mess with Costco's efficiency at their Depots.

Costco supply chain requires their suppliers deliver product based on strict Costco standards which are built on maximum efficiency. Not following these standards may result in hefty fines and not knowing the standards is not an excuse.

In today's "Learn the Lingo" article, we will talk about trailers and trailer loading for delivery to Costco Depots.

Question: What is a 53ft dry trailer?

Answer: Whether you call them Big Rigs, 18 wheelers, or Semis, virtually all the large trucks in North America are 53' trailers.

The term "dry" refers to the fact that the trailer is covered and not an open flat bed.

Costco expects only 53' dry trailers are used for delivery since it's the only size which accommodates the dock door size at their Depots. For example, a smaller trailer with a lift gate will be refused by the Depot.

Question: What's the difference between FTL and LTL and Floor Load?


FTL = Full Truck Load

LTL = Less Than (Truck) Load

Floor Load = Shipment without pallets (loose cartons or slip sheets). This is not common and can only be used buyer authorization. Additionally, a special "Floor Load" appointment must be made at the Depot for this type of delivery since it requires much more manpower to offload.

Question: Does Costco have specific requirements on how FTL trailers are loaded?

Answer: Yes! Not following specs may also be subject to fines.

First of all pallets must be 48"x40" block style produced strictly to Costco spec.

The ideal trailer loading spec is 30 pallets on 1 layer and 60 pallets when double stacked. See image below which is part of the official Costco Routing Guide. Full spec can be found here:

There are 2 optional loading patterns which should only be used if needed for stability or to improve air flow for produce or refrigerated trailers.

Pallet Layout Approved by Costco

Question: Will I have an issue with the bottom layer of double stacked pallets crushing during shipment?

Answer: Great question! The answer is "it depends". Sorry to be vague but, how you designed your packaging, selected your materials and your product type all have a major influence. You can add corner posts on the pallet or additional support but, it's not always enough. Consult your packaging partner on the double stacking at the start of design when it's most economical to ensure you meet this requirement. If your packaging partner can't help, contact us with questions.

Dont forget, its not just your load you need to design for. Each pallet load under 750 lbs/340 kg must be capable of withstanding 1500 lbs/680 kg of weight on the bottom product layer without damage.

Question: What if I have a concern my pallets won't be stable in the trailer?

Answer: Large airbags to support the load can be used and are accepted by Costco. It is very important to consider this early in your design phase to make sure there aren't stability issues. Pallets which have tipped over in a trailer will be refused by the depot and finding a location to rework is not always easy or inexpensive.

Costco may fine for trailer refusals for any reason. Don't take chances.

We are always a resource with any questions on ensuring your deliveries to Costco are running smoothly. Reach out anytime.

Until next time.



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