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ISTA standard

Packaging is essential in the logistics chain for protecting and preserving products during transportation and storage. This merged article highlights the importance of packaging validation in a testing laboratory, based on the guidelines of the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA).

What is ISTA?

ISTA is a non-profit association aimed at reducing product damage in the supply chain and optimizing resource use through efficient packaging design. It establishes standards for packaging design to ensure the safety of package contents and provides laboratory certification to ensure that facilities are equipped to perform pre-shipment tests according to ISTA standards.

ISTA laboratories

An ISTA laboratory is certified to conduct pre-shipment testing with the necessary equipment, operated by qualified personnel to test packaged products according to ISTA standards.

The Importance of ISTA standard

These tests play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and integrity of products during transit by simulating various transportation scenarios (parcel delivery,...).

Objectives and expectations of ISTA tests

ISTA tests aim to protect the contents of packages from impacts and vibrations during transportation, with the objectives of product safety and reducing economic losses due to damage.

Types of ISTA tests and specific series

ISTA tests are diversified and adapted to various transport conditions. Here is an overview of specific ISTA test series:

Series 1 ISTA: Comparative performance test - Tests the strength and robustness of the product-packaging system. These protocols are not intended to simulate environmental constraints. They are perfect for preliminary testing to compare multiple solutions.

  • 1A: Packages weighing less than 68 kg.
  • 1B: Packages weighing more than 68 kg.
  • 1C: Comprehensive program for individual product-packaging systems weighing up to 68 kg.
  • 1D: Comprehensive program for individual product-packaging systems weighing at least 68 kg.
  • 1E: Unitized Load.
  • 1G: Random Vibration Test for product-packaging systems weighing less than 68 kg.
  • 1H: Random Vibration Test for product-packaging systems weighing more than 68 kg.

Series 2 ISTA: Partial simulation performance tests - Tests with at least one element from Series 3, such as climate conditioning or additional random vibration profiles, in addition to the simple tests of Series 1.

  • 2A: Package weighing less than 68 kg.
  • 2B: Package weighing more than 68 kg.
  • 2C: Furniture Packaging.
  • 2D: Flat package.
  • 2E: Long package.

Series 3 ISTA: Simulation performance tests - Designed to allow laboratory simulation of mechanical stresses during transportation. Wide application range: various types of vehicles, road conditions, and even multiple handling scenarios. These protocols include random vibration profiles, different drop heights applied to the sample, and/or tropical (hot and humid) humidity and temperature conditions, or low-temperature conditions.

  • 3A: Courier delivery of standard-sized, small, flat, and elongated product-packaging systems weighing less than 70 kg.
  • 3B: Packaged product Less than truckload (LTL) delivery by courier-type truck.
  • 3E: Homogeneous product pallet on a truckload.
  • 3F: Packaging for transportation between distribution centers and distributors.
  • 3K
  • 3L

Series 4 ISTA: Enhanced simulation performance tests - Designed to closely resemble the actual logistics circuit and adapt the testing procedure based on the distribution model defined by the user.

Series 6 ISTA: Performance tests proposed by ISTA members.

Test protocols created by ISTA members to meet their specific objectives and applications. The tests can be entirely original or modifications or variants of existing ISTA procedures or projects. ISTA reviews and approves these tests, but the primary responsibility lies with the initiating members.

  • ISTA 6 AMAZON SIOC, Ships in Own Container (SIOC) for Distribution System Shipment
  • ISTA 6 AMAZON Over Boxing (OB), e-Commerce Fulfillment for Parcel Delivery Shipment
  • ISTA 6 SAMSCLUB, Packaged-Products for Sam's Club® Distribution System Shipment
  • ISTA 6 FEDEX-A: FedEx Procedures for Testing Packaged Products Weighing Up to 150 lbs.
  • ISTA 6 FEDEX-B: FedEx Procedures for Testing Packaged Products Weighing Over

Series 7 ISTA: Thermal performance tests

ISTA Certification Marking

Packaging that has passed ISTA tests can be marked with the ISTA certification logo, attesting to its compliance with quality and safety standards.

Special Programs and ISTA Test Protocols

ISTA offers special programs and test protocols to meet specific needs, such as the Responsible Packaging program.

Choosing an Appropriate Test Protocol

The choice of the appropriate test protocol depends on the nature of the product, mode of transport, and logistical challenges alongside guaranteeing its integrity.

What is the difference between ISTA and ASTM?

1. ISTA (International Safe Transit Association): 
   - Domain: ISTA specializes in testing and certifying packaging and the transportation of goods. They develop standards to assess the strength of packaging during transportation, handling, and distribution. 
   - Objective: The main goal of ISTA is to ensure that packaged products arrive at their destination safely without experiencing damage during transit. 
   - Involvement: Companies that ship products, especially fragile or sensitive ones, can use ISTA standards to design appropriate packaging and conduct performance testing.

2. ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials): 
   - Domain: ASTM focuses on developing technical standards for a wide range of products and materials. Their standards cover various type of industries, including construction, engineering, materials, chemicals, and more. 
   - Objective: ASTM's objective is to promote standardization and product quality by establishing precise specifications and testing methods. 
   - Involvement: Businesses and professionals use ASTM standards to ensure that their products meet industry-established quality and performance requirements.

In summary, the main difference lies in the scope: ISTA focuses on packaging and goods transportation, while ASTM applies to a much broader range of general products and materials across various industries included package.


ISTA tests are vital to ensuring the safety and efficiency of packaging, helping companies prevent damage, save costs related to returns, and maintain customer satisfaction. Following ISTA guidelines is a commitment to quality and sustainability.

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