Container 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, the Institute of International Container Lessors (IICL) has an internationally accepted grading system that is used by all shipping lines and container leasing companies. The grades are IICL5, Cargo Worthy, Wind and Water Tight, As Is.


IICL-5 containers are those that meet the standards of the IICL. They are between two and 8 years old and in excellent condition. They may be in near-new condition or have been repaired to such a high standard that they’re indistinguishable.


A container with a WWT rating (which stands for Wind and Watertight) is one that is over 8 years old but meets the standard of being able to protect its contents from the elements. It contains no holes, cracks or major structural weaknesses. 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 cargo-worthy container is one that has been inspected and certified by a third-party container surveyor and fit for sea travel. The value of a cargo-worthy container can vary greatly based on their exact condition, age, and previous usage. 


This category means that the owner of the container bought it in its current condition and performed no repairs or maintenance checks. The big issue with as-is is that its exact condition is unknown and it may have structural damage that’s indiscernible to the untrained eye. As such, as-is containers tend to sell relatively cheaply. 

When talking about grading standards it should be noted that grading is usually a company’s internal classification system and not an international standard for purchasing containers. This means, that although 2 companies could both classify their containers in terms of grade A, B, or C, it does not mean that a Grade A will be the same for both.

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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