Container Grades

When one is about to buy a used container, this is often a “sight-unseen” purchase, so it would seem reasonable to want to have a clear idea of the condition of the unit before parting with one’s cash.

Used Container Certification & Grading

When one is about to buy a used container, this is often a “sight-unseen” purchase, so it would seem reasonable to want to have a clear idea of the condition of the unit before parting with one’s cash.

As this is an internationally traded item it would be reasonable to expect that there would be some sort of clearly defined universal grading system that applies to the condition of all containers.

There is an Internationally accepted grading system regulated by IICL that is used by all Shipping Lines and Container leasing companies. The grades are IICL5, Cargo Worthy, Wind and Water Tight, As Is

Some companies use their own internally generated grading system as defined by the companies themselves and condition could vary dramatically from organisation to organisation. Terminology such as “A” grade, in good condition or AV are used.

Below are with main acronyms you could run into when buying your used shipping or storage containers:

    • IICL – Institute of International Container Lessors – an organization which groups the largest container and chassis leasing companies worldwide. The IICL sets repair standards, by which all repairs are carried out, for its members when containers are off hired. IICL is the strictest criterion out there for used containers.
    • CW – Cargo Worthy– Criterion under which a used shipping container is deemed suitable for the transport of cargo under TIR / UIC / CSC and meets all the standards laid out in its original specification. The CW Cargo worthy standard generally implies that the container has a valid CSC. Cargo Worthiness can be certified by a third-party container surveyor pursuant to a physical inspection of the used shipping container.
    • WWT – Wind & Water Tight – a criterion under which containers are literally “wind and water tight”. In short, if you lock yourself inside the container, you should not see any light coming through the panels or roof. It should be noted that this criterion however makes no reference to the quality of the understructure. A WWT container should therefore not be considered safe for the transport of cargo; unless it is explicitly confirmed it meets the CSC. WWT is commonly used to describe and qualify used storage containers. WWT + CSC = CW!
    • CSC – Convention for Safe Containers – established in 1972 to promote and maintain a high level of safety of human life in the transport and handling of containers by providing generally acceptable test procedures and related strength requirements. This has helped facilitate the international transport of containers by providing uniform international safety regulations.
    • ACEP – Approved Continuous Examination Program – quality inspection programs put in place by container owners to monitor the condition and maintenance of their containers. As long as a unit is monitored under an ACEP, the periodic CSC re-inspection is not necessary. The exit from the program under which the container was (originally) built and maintained (in case of sale) means that containers will need to be inspected under CSC in order to be approved for shipping and will have an approval limited in time.
    • ISO – International Standardization Organization – International organization based in Geneva working towards harmonizing worldwide technical standards; including those governing the construction of shipping containers.
    • AV This means the container meets the shipping lines own internal criteria for shipping

At Container Rental and Sales, we only use the grading set out by IICL so that you know what to expect when you buy your container from us.


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