Table of Contents

You probably don’t realize it, but every year, thousands of cargo containers are abandoned at ports around the world. 

Recently, this issue has become even more pronounced because of the pandemic.

The abandoned container may be someone’s loss, but it can be your gain.

If you’re wondering how to buy unclaimed freight, we’re here to help you through the process. 

Not only can you buy abandoned shipping containers, but you can also purchase packages from Amazon, Target, Walmart, and other online retailers that never make it to their destination.

What are abandoned goods?

According to the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, abandoned goods are items that the importer has no intention of picking up within a reasonable amount of time after it has reached its destination.

In the U.S., the “reasonable amount of time” is six months from when it was imported, with perishable items having a shorter amount of time required for pickup.

How to Buy Unclaimed Freight

TV shows have made buying unclaimed freight incredibly popular, and many people are wondering how they can cash in on the possibility of getting a lot more for their money. However, before getting into the steps when asking how to buy unclaimed freight, it’s important to realize that not every port in the U.S. will be looking to sell off freight.

When it comes to buying unclaimed freight, these are the steps you’ll need to follow:

Step 1: Find Out if Auctions Are Being Held Near You

To determine if there are auctions in your area, you might consider doing a search for “unclaimed freight auctions near me.” This will give you a better idea of what you can expect to find in ports that are close to you.

Step 2: Register for the Event

Many unclaimed shipping container auctions are live, which means you have to show up in person to put in bids on the container.

Typically, to be able to bid, you will have to register. 

Depending on the type of unclaimed cargo auctions you are attending, you may be able to register online, or you may have to register on the day of the event.

It’s in your best interest to find out ahead of time to ensure you have the best chance of buying an unclaimed shipping container.

Step 3: Inspect the Items

Despite what a lot of reality TV shows portray, when learning how to buy unclaimed freight, before the bidding starts, you are allowed to inspect the items — on a limited basis.

If the items are still within the container, then you usually have to stand at the doors to see what’s inside.

If the items have been removed and are on pallets, then you can walk around the merchandise, but you can’t touch anything.

You’ll have to determine from a quick inspection what you think the stuff is worth. 

This can help you determine how much you’ll want to pay for the container, but keep in mind that other bidders may want the freight just as badly as you do, so this could lead to a bidding war.

Step 4: Offer a Bid

When attending live unclaimed shipping container auctions, after the inspection period, the bidding will begin.

In general, during live unclaimed cargo auctions, there is no reserve and no sealed bids. 

That means that you can get the freight for really cheap if no one else is interested, or it can get really expensive.

The bids are public, which means you know exactly how much someone else is willing to offer for the container, and they know how much you are offering.

The bid amounts keep going up until no one else is interested, and then the winner with the highest bid wins the container.

Step 5: Pay for and Then Take Possession of the Container

If you happen to be the winner of the freight container, after paying the amount you bid, you then get possession of the container and what’s inside.

Pay for and Then Take Possession of the Container unclaimed freight locations

More often than not, it’s your responsibility to transport the items from the unclaimed freight locations to where it needs to go. However, once you own the merchandise, you get to decide what to do with it. 

This means you can keep it, sell it, donate it or throw it away — it’s totally up to you!

Is unclaimed freight really unclaimed freight?

Yes, it is. There are rules and regulations in place that allow the freight to be claimed within a certain amount of time. If it’s not, it can then be sold so that the principal can reclaim any lost funds.

How to Buy Truckloads of Returns

While knowing how to buy unclaimed freight can be beneficial, you may not have any unclaimed freight locations near you.

Thankfully, it’s possible to buy packages from places such as Amazon, Target, Walmart, and other places that never reached their destination. If you’re asking how to buy truckloads of returns, you’ll want to follow these steps:

Step 1: Find the Right Online Site

When learning how to buy truckloads of returns, the first thing you need to do is go to the right site.

Returns items from places such as Amazon, Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and others will go to a liquidation company.

To ensure you’re not getting scammed, you need to make sure you’re working with a reputable company. Some of the established, trustworthy liquidation companies you might want to check out include:

Find the Right Online Site unclaimed shipping container auctions

You can find others by doing a search, but before buying anything from them, make sure to do your due diligence to determine if you get what you pay for.

Step 2: Search for Items You’re Interested In

Knowing what each site has available for sale will require doing some exploring. Not only can you look for specific items that you might be interested in, but you can also narrow your search by location.

Step 3: Make an Offer

Once you’ve found the items you’re looking for, you will then be able to put in a bid. The amount you pay will depend on how many other people are interested in the item. You have to decide how much you’re willing to pay and structure your bids accordingly.

make an offer unclaimed freight locations

How long each auction lasts will depend on the site you’re visiting. They may last for several hours or days. You may have to visit the site frequently to make sure you haven’t been outbid and offer another one if you have.

Step 4: Claim Your Winnings

When learning how to buy unclaimed freight by the truckload from Amazon and other companies, if you are the winner of the auction, you will then need to claim your winnings.

When learning how to buy unclaimed freight by the truckload from Amazon and other companies, if you are the winner of the auction, you will then need to claim your winnings.

Typically, this includes paying for the products at the price you offered and then figuring out how to get the items to your location. Depending on the site you’re bidding on, you may be able to have the items shipped to you, or you may have the option of picking them up yourself.

Keep in mind that there will be costs associated with either of these options, so calculate that into your bidding offer.

How do I prevent being stuck with abandoned goods?

There are a number of different steps that can be taken to ensure that you don’t get stuck with abandoned goods, including:

  • Only working with reputable shippers
  • Verifying the credentials of the importer before accepting shipments
  • Being wary of low-value or counterfeit goods that people don’t really want
  • Having Freight Forwarders Liability Insurance to cover abandoned cargo

How to Buy USPS and FedEx Packages

In addition to wondering how to buy unclaimed freight or truckloads of returns from Amazon and other businesses, you might be asking if it’s possible to buy packages from USPS and FedEx that never made it to their destination — and it is. 

Here are the steps you’ll need to follow to buy packages from USPS and FedEx

Step 1: Go to the Right Site

When it comes to buying packages that couldn’t be delivered by USPS or FedEx, you’ll need to visit the right sites.

Some of the sites that the USPS contracts with include:

Go to the Right Site unclaimed freight auctions near me

Doing an online search might also bring up other websites that offer undelivered packages, but be cautious before entering a bid. There are a lot of scammers out there, and you don’t want to get taken advantage of.

Step 2: Search the Site

There are many different items available on these websites, so you’ll need to do a search to find what you’re looking for.

Keep in mind that most of the time, you aren’t blinding bidding on unopened packages. The products have been removed and are placed into categories. While you’ll be able to see what you’re getting, there is no guarantee on the condition of the product. Many of them have been sitting around for a long time, so you have no idea if they still work.

Search the Site unclaimed cargo auctions

However, if that’s a risk you’re willing to take, you can get a great deal on an item that couldn’t be delivered to the intended recipient.

Sometimes, you can bid on unopened packages and take your chances on what’s inside; it all depends on what the seller is offering. There are a lot of videos online showing people opening “mystery boxes,” so it may be possible to find more unopened packages to buy.

While browsing the site, you’ll also be able to see where the item you’re interested in is located. Before bidding on an item, it’s in your best interest to determine if you’ll need to pick the product up or if it will be shipped to you. This may help you determine which products you should bid on and for how much.

How are abandoned goods sold?

Generally, if items are considered abandoned, they will go to auction and can be bought by anyone who has enough money for the container.

Step 3: Place a Bid

Once you’ve found an item you want, you’ll then offer a bid.

Auctions are open for various amounts of time, so you may need to check back every so often to see if you are still the highest bidder.

Place a Bid how to buy unclaimed freight

Step 4: Claim Your Item

If you happen to win the auction, the next step you’ll take is to claim your item. In general, this means you’ll pay for it and either pick it up or have it shipped to you.

Getting Products in Person

In addition to putting in bids for unclaimed items online, you can also go to swap meets in your local area to find products from packages that were never delivered. There may even be small businesses in your area that engage in these activities.

Getting Products in Person unclaimed shipping container auctions

Since it can be hit or miss whether or not you’ll get something good, consider calling the business ahead of time to see when new packages arrive so that you can be there as quickly as possible.

Who is liable for abandoned goods?

Several different entities can be held liable for abandoned goods, including:

  • The exporter/importer
  • The freight forwarder
  • The shipping line

Basically, determining liability depends on which entity is listed as the principal.

Unclaimed Freight Could Lead to Amazing Bargains

With the number of unclaimed shipping containers rising in recent times, there is a possibility of finding lucrative bargains. If you’re wondering how to buy unclaimed freight, here’s what you need to do:

  • Find Out if Auctions Are Being Held Near You
  • Register for the Event
  • Inspect the Items
  • Offer a Bid
  • Pay for and Then Take Possession of the Container

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support Clever Sequence

Close this search box.

Latest Guides