Mil-Std-2073 covers military specified methods of preservation to protect materiel against environmentally induced corrosion and deterioration, physical and mechanical damage, and other forms of degradation during storage, multiple handling, and shipment of materiel in the defense transportation system. It also defines how to perform quality inspections of packaged product prior to shipment. ASTM D-3951 covers commercial packaging requirements for the commercial supply-chain. Both of these standards invoke Mil-Std-129 for package labeling. These are typically found in Section B of a solicitation or award.

The requirements for packaging and preservation originate in bid-packages and contracts either explicitly or indirectly via DFARs clauses. Failure to comply with packaging and preservation requirements can be costly and negatively impact future contracting opportunities. Missed Packaging and Preservation compliance will lead to the shipment being rejected at the destination and suspended payment. In that case the contractor’s quality score suffers and the shipment may be returned. Sometimes the contractor will need to reimburse the government for the materials and effort to repackage the goods.

Example Packing Codes from DLA Contract

This guide will build your awareness of the scope of requirements for packaging and preservation. When you are finished you’ll have a better idea of whether you will need tools to manage these requirements or if you’re better-off outsourcing all or a portion of your packaging efforts.

Requirements In-Detail


Contracts or a master-solicitation will identify which of these standards apply. Mil-Std-2073 covers the full sweep of military packaging and preservation. When it is cited in solicitations and contracts a series of codes will be provided which cover each packaging and preservation category: PRESERVATION METHOD, Preservation Material, Cushioning Material, Level of Protection, Cleaning and Drying Procedures, Wrapping Material, Containers, Packing Quantities, and Special Marking or Packing Instructions. The codes can be found in the standard and create a contractual obligation for the contractor. Mil-Std-2073 does invoke Mil-Std-129 for package marking and it also provides an inspection regime and criteria for packaging operations. ASTM D-3951-10 is the commercial specification for packaging performance and specifies physical performance criteria. It is more generic and provides more leeway for the contractor in terms of which materials and methods are employed to package items for shipment and storage. However, ASTM D-3951-10 does also invoke Mil-Std-129 for package marking as well. When these standards are invoked in the contract, they are not optional. Mil-Std-2073 is far costlier and may involve more scrutiny during acceptance than packaging prepared using ASTM D-3951.


Mil-Std-2073 provides for a wide array of logistics scenarios that any item might encounter. A single item could have a different set of Mil-Std-2073 requirements depending on whether it was intended to be delivered at sea or if its destination was to the Arctic or the Middle-East. The good news is any solicitation invoking Mil-Std-2073 will be very specific as to the requirements. So the contractor will be able to prepare their bid appropriately. One of the most critical specifications of Mil-Std-2073 is the ‘QUP’ or Quantity of Unit Pack. The most typical QUP is 001 which means the items should be individually packaged and marked. If the contract intent is to source items in bulk, the QUP will reflect that. For instance even though a contractor might want to ship 1,000 screws in boxes of 100, if the QUP is for 001 the contractor will likely be bagging and labeling one at a time! Remember that Mil-Std-2073 automatically requires Mil-Std-129 labeling on all packaging and shipping containers. Lastly, the standard also provides an exhaustive set of finished goods inspection criteria which need to be incorporated into the contractor’s quality assurance systems and procedures.

ASTM D-3951-10

ASTM D-3951-10 provides for multiple handling and shipment by any mode, and storage periods of a minimum of one year in enclosed facilities without damage to the product. This standard does allow for commercial QUPs but generally recommends for QUP of one. At the end of the day, if your contract is purchasing EA you’ll be at a QUP of one. Paragraph governs markings for DoD in accordance with (IAW) Mil-Std-129.

MIL-STD-2073 Checklist

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You want to look for one of two things: Mil-Std-2073-1D or Mil-Std-2073-1E. These will show up alongside their multiple codes designating everything from QUP to Method of Preservation.

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Once you find the codes. Look them up and document their requirements (hint we have software that does this for you). From these you will be in possession of material, process, and quality specifications for how to package and preserve your shipment. Make a shopping list based on findings from Mil-Std-2073. Be sure to incorporate the packaging requirements into your bidding assumptions. Mil-Std-2073 ignorance has the potential turn a seemingly profitable bid into a money-losing contract.

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Putting these specifications into practice will involve packaging engineering, product engineering, government sales, quality control, packaging and shipping departments. Most organizations will need to designate one individual as the final authority on Mil-Std-2073. At some level that individual will likely need training or access to outside expertise.

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Mil-Std-2073 requires an inspection regime be integrated with the packaging process. Make sure these inspection criteria are incorporated with the organizations quality systems. (EasyForm Pack is the only solution on the market that incorporates inspection reports based on packaging codes).


How do I package my shipment according to Mil Std 2073?
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Once you have decoded the contract packaging codes you will have a better handle on the packaging materials and processing requirements. The Method of Preservation is really the difference maker between doing it yourself and potentially outsourcing the work to a packaging house. The simplest method is Method 10 which essentially calls for the contractor to physically protect the goods being shipped. If you are doing it in-house you will need to source materials such as fiberboard boxes, vapor-barriers, and dissicants which are certified against the standards that are called out in Mil-Std-2073. Then you will need to perform the packaging and labeling and quality inspections as called out in the standard. So at some level, you will need to study-up!

Does Mil Std 2073 require labeling?
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Yes. Mil-Std-2073 by-default requires Mil-Std-129 be followed for all package labeling. In addition Mil-Std-2073 adds additional requirements and specifications for labeling of hazardous and sensitive goods.

Will the standard tell me what boxes, wraps, packaging, etc., to use?
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Yes and no. The standard will detail the specifications that particular packaging materials should meet or exceed but it won't tell you exactly where to buy those items. In some cases NSNs are detailed for materials which can be used to procure those stocks.

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