Packaging can be closed in many ways - for example, glued, welded or even locked with a security tab. The latter provides additional protection for the contents and is still user-friendly for anyone opening the box. But what does a security flap actually look like and in which areas is it used? We'll explain it to you in detail and show you the special features. 

What is a safety lug?

Packaging specialists refer to one or more extra flaps on the hinged and folding cartons as security flaps, which seal the packaging in a tamper-proof manner.

This does not mean the classic tuck-in tab on the lid section, which is bent down 90 degrees and stuck inside the box to hold the closed lid in place.

Rather, true security tabs work on the lock-and-key principle, with one tab from the lid closing the box and another tab from the front of the box sliding into the lid to secure the connection.

This creates an interlocking closure that prevents the carton from opening unintentionally and goods from being pulled out of gaps and openings.


Looking for more info on sustainable and safe packaging? You'll find it in our blog. For example, we equip our folding boxes with security tabs.

Structure and aim of the safety tab

How is the ideal safety flap constructed? Opinions in the packaging industry differ on this. Roughly speaking, there are three box designs that are labeled "with security flap". As packaging professionals at Palamo, we clearly recommend version number three for safe and convenient packaging and problem-free transport of high-quality products.

Variant 1: Safety latches on the lid sides

Everybody knows the classic design of a cardboard box (for example a moving box) where two lid parts are closed by two folding flaps on the side parts.

The disadvantage is that if you pry up the lid parts on the sides of the box a little and press down the side flaps, the way to the contents of the package is clear without significantly damaging the packaging. Thieves have an easy game here. Losses can also occur unintentionally if a carton is crushed, bumped and severely deformed during transport .

The solution: side flaps that are attached to both the lid and the narrow sides and fold in when closed. They block the way for pilferers and protect the package contents from accidental loss.

Variant 2: Safety tabs for gluing

You will find this packaging version primarily in book shipping. Here, too, simple cardboard designs are used, which enclose the book with two side flaps, while two cover parts are closed and glued on top.

Two long cardboard strips, which are stretched from the base of the packaging over both side panels and glued to the cover, serve as additional safety flaps here. They prevent one of the side flaps from turning outwards during unsteady transport and the book falling out of the packaging.

Variant 3: Safety tabs for insertion

This version is ideal for all folding and clamshell boxes, but also for larger cartons. The principle: While the lid is fixed to the carton front part by a tuck-in flap, an opposing flap from the carton front part engages in the lid part. In this way, the carton is virtually locked. The design makes it virtually impossible for the packaging to open by itself.- To steal the contents, thieves would have to use brazen and visible manipulation here. Especially if the interlocking flaps are additionally secured by a label or adhesive seal.

What are safety tabs actually good for?

Hinged lid box cross section FEFCO 0427

Folding cartons with safety flap bring the following advantages:

  1. Anti-theft and tamper protection
    Pulling a product out of a box without it looking clearly damaged? Thieves can forget that with packaging that has a security flap. Here, the customer or recipient can see at a glance whether the goods have been tampered with.
  1. Safe transport
    If the adhesive tape fails on simple folding cartons, in the worst case scenario the contents end up on the street or are lost during transport. Packaging with a safety flap does not rely on the resilience of adhesive tape, but protects its contents simply through its clever design.
  1. Pleasant handling for the consumer
    In most cases, anyone unpacking a package with a safety flap intuitively knows which flap to pull out to open the lid and access the contents. For customers and consumers, a folding box with a safety flap therefore offers the most pleasant unboxing experience of all packaging variants on the market. Those who are pleasantly surprised by the convenient handling of the box may even keep the packaging and use it for other purposes in everyday life.
    In this case, the design and brand become positively anchored in the customer's consciousness. Last but not least, packaging with a security flap also helps consumers to pack returns effortlessly and close them securely.
  1. Image gain for producers and retailers
    The high-quality and solid appearance of cartons and folding boxes with security flaps has a positive influence on the image of the respective company. In addition, returns carry a lower risk of transport damage or loss, so that the items - in compliance with the industry-specific requirements - can be refurbished and put back on sale to a greater extent.

Which packages can have a safety tab?

Security tabs were developed as an additional feature for cardboard packaging. As a rule, they can be found on the following models:

  1. Folding boxes
    Here, the dimensions start at very small sizes and range up to a medium box size for cosmetics, electronic accessories or food. Typical formats would be around 120x80 mm or 150x100 mm - both with a height of 40 mm. The material can be chosen from lightweight cardboard (280 g/m²) to heavier cardboard (400 g/m²).
  1. Flat book shipping cartons
    From paperbacks to thick tomes, books are often shipped in flat folding cartons made of corrugated board. The material's lightweight construction, consisting of flat cover layers and the corrugated web that forms the hollow volume, provides
    good protection against impact during transport.
    This means that books arrive at the customer's premises without any creases or folds. Additional security is provided by two adhesive tabs that close around the sides of the folding box. Book shipping cartons with security flaps are available in sizes ranging from 160 by 230 mm to 330 by 460 mm. The height of the printing unit can be up to 80 mm.
  1. Folding cartons for bulk goods and separately packaged individual items
    The security flap on a package does not have to be the only option for opening it. In the case of folding cartons containing bulk products or individually packaged small items such as candy or tea bags, the consumer removes the products by tearing open a perforation or pulling out a pre-cut chute. The primary purpose of the safety flap here is to secure the products in the closed package against falling out or becoming soiled.
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For which products is packaging with safety flap particularly suitable?

Rollover hinged lid with hook
Safely packaged goods are better received by consumers.

Protection from transport damage and tampering, convenient handling and a solid image - these features of the security tab are particularly in demand for certain products:

    • Food and dietary supplements: Fine chocolates, exotic spices or superfood capsules - anyone who buys food and dietary supplements wants to be sure that the packaging is still unopened. It doesn't matter if only the lid has bulged up and nothing has been damaged - the "packaging damage" creates an uneasy feeling for the consumer and often leads to a return.
    • Electronic articles: Serious design, convenient opening and resealing of the packaging - especially for smaller electronic items the security flap can show its qualities. Because although most products in the electronics sector are not large, they can be quite high-priced (for example, smartphones, smartwatches, headphones, etc.).
      What is needed here is not only packaging whose security features match the product's value, but also packaging that enables secure returns. After all, it is not uncommon for customers to discover that the electronics item they ordered is not compatible with their existing equipment.
    • Cosmetics and care products: The same applies here as with food. A consumer wants to use an unused body product for himself. The packaging should therefore be intact. At the same time, the high-quality look of a folding box with a safety flap supports the luxurious image of many cosmetics companies.
    • Books: Here, the package contents do not have to be high-priced to make a security flap necessary. After all, book lovers pay meticulous attention to possible transport damage such as scratches and dents on the book cover - even if the packaged item is second-hand goods.

Does the safety lug have advantages in terms of sustainability?

Does the design of the packaging help to make it more sustainable? The small detail of a safety flap can have a double positive effect here:

  1. It gives cardboard packaging decisive advantages
    Design features such as the security flap can play their part in encouraging more producers and retailers to dispense with plastic packaging and pack their products in folding cartons as corrugated board and cardboard. The advantage: unlike some types of plastic, cardboard and carton are 100 percent recyclable.

    In terms of packaging waste, 80 percent of paper is currently recycled, but only 43 percent of plastic. In the packaging sector, solutions made of cardboard and paper are therefore still considered to be more environmentally friendly.
  1. Avoiding plastic with the safety flap
    If a folding carton can be sealed well by its design alone, the need for additional adhesive tapes and shrink films is often eliminated. This is particularly advantageous in terms of environmental protection, provided that adhesives and films come from petroleum products and cannot be efficiently recycled.

Paper and cardboard are not always the ideal solutions. Doypacks made of plastic are more suitable for moist and aromatic products. What matters here is the origin of the polymers (bioplastics) and their good recycling properties.

Conclusion: The safety lug stands for quality and environmental friendliness

High-quality appearance, safe transport and convenient handling - with folding cartons with safety flap, not only the contents but also the packaging cuts a particularly good figure. This appeals to customers and suits sensitive products such as food, cosmetics and dietary supplements.

Also predestined for the security flap are articles that are small in size but relatively high-priced. Finally, the security flap helps to make cardboard and paperboard packaging attractive for other product groups.

Producers who otherwise use plastic boxes or shrink wrap for safety reasons can switch from the plastic solution to the more recyclable cardboard box without sacrificing product protection.

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