Shipping Container Conditions: Your Quick Handbook for Choosing the Right Container

Do you want cargo worthy containers? Or, is a wind and watertight container what you need? Do you even know what these terms actually mean? You’re about to find out.

Most businesses that set out to rent or purchase storage containers have no idea which shipping container condition they need to choose. But choosing the right container starts with deciding the condition and type that fits your needs.

The shipping container experts at Rent-A-Container are here to help. Reach out to get the answers to your shipping container condition questions. And read on for more information.


Shipping Container Conditions


Understanding Shipping Container Conditions

As you shop for shipping containers, you will probably encounter a bunch of terms that appear to describe the shipping container condition or level of quality. Understanding which of those terms you need to pay attention to — and which you don’t — is essential to picking the right storage container.

Here’s what you need to know:


Shipping Container Letter Grades Don’t Mean Much

You will likely run into shipping containers that companies are describing as “Grade A” or “Grade B.” These might tell you something about how the seller views the container’s quality, but they don’t provide any real, official information about the container’s condition.

These grade levels are not tied to standards set by any official organization. They are subjective and vary widely from company to company within the storage container industry.


Shipping Container Condition Doesn’t Tell You Everything

The term used to describe the condition of a shipping container is a good starting point when you are thinking about buying or renting a container. But that should never be where your investigation ends.

Within each condition category, there are a wide variety of factors that can impact the container’s usefulness for you, specifically. If possible, it’s best to inspect the shipping container yourself before buying or renting it. At the very least, call the shipping container company and ask specific questions about the container you are considering.

Almost ready to pull the trigger on renting a shipping container? Find answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Renting Shipping Containers


Types of Shipping Container Conditions

While shipping container terminology can vary from company to company, these are the industry-standard shipping container conditions to look for:

  • One-trip containers
  • Institute of International Container Lessors (IICL) containers
  • Cargo worthy containers
  • Wind and watertight containers
  • As-is containers

Each of these conditions describes shipping containers with different levels of quality and what uses they are best suited for. We discuss each container condition in more depth below.


One-Trip Shipping Containers

One-trip shipping containers are as close to new as you can easily get with a storage container. As the name suggests, these containers have only taken one trip aboard a container ship and are now for sale or rent. Like most shipping containers, one-trip containers are typically manufactured in China and sent from there to their current location.

Because they are like new, one-trip storage containers are ideal for buyers and renters who want the latest features and accessories and the highest level of quality. These containers are also a good choice for container offices, container apartments and similar structures.


IICL Shipping Containers

Compared to one-trip containers, IICL shipping containers are just one small rung down on the quality ladder. The IICL dictates a grading and review process to certify that these used containers are in good condition. Most often, these containers are a few years old and have little visible wear and tear, if any.

Basically, an IICL-rated container is certified for cargo use. And that should tell you about the level of quality — companies trust this rating as a guarantee that their goods will weather rough seas and long trips across the ocean. While these containers usually remain at sea while they are IICL-certified, if you can snag one, it should be ready for any dry or unrefrigerated storage use.


Cargo Worthy Shipping Containers

Cargo-worthy containers are seaworthy shipping containers, meaning they should be strong and weather-resistant enough to carry cargo aboard a container ship. Expect wear and tear including dings, dents and rust. The Cargo Worthy designation is an indication of the structural integrity and does not directly reflect the visible attractiveness of the container.

It is important to note that the designation of “Cargo Worthy” does NOT mean that the container has valid CSC plates/stickers or surveys which are required to ship them overseas. It typically means that the container is sound enough to be certified but it does not mean that it is certified. If you are shipping the container overseas you will need to inquire about having an updated CSC survey completed.

Although the cargo-worthy definition can vary a fair amount, one thing you can be relatively sure of is that these containers are strong enough to transport cargo. So, if you might have to move the container a long distance at some point — even ship it overseas — a cargo worthy container might be the right call.


Wind and Watertight Shipping Containers

Wind and Watertight containers are used containers that should be free from holes and other defects that would allow wind and water to enter the unit. These containers are generally more than 10 years old and will have visible rust, dings and dents. The price of these containers generally reflects those factors, and for people who need to use a container for general storage, a wind and watertight container might be the most cost-effective option.

You might notice a little damage to the container’s exterior including rust. But this shipping container condition holds that these containers will resist wind and water to protect your stored items. Keep in mind that wind and watertight containers do not have to undergo any formal inspection by a governing body — container sellers usually inspect and repair them for resale.


As-Is Shipping Containers

As-is shipping containers can be a huge money saver for buyers who don’t mind doing a little repair work. These containers can have a lot of rust and dents — sometimes even holes. They are the least expensive shipping container you can find.

Even with some repair work, these containers are probably only suitable for general storage of resilient items like agricultural equipment and construction materials.


Cargo Worthy vs. Wind and Watertight Containers

Wind and watertight and cargo-worthy containers are the most commonly available shipping container conditions. Before you make a purchase or sign a container lease, you need to understand the key differences between these two conditions.

Here’s how the battle of cargo worthy vs. wind and watertight containers breaks down:

  • Cargo-worthy containers are deemed structurally sound enough to ship goods. 
  • Wind and watertight containers are not certified. Sellers deem them to be wind- and water-resistant.
  • Generally, cargo-worthy containers are somewhat more expensive than wind and watertight containers.
  • Wind and watertight containers may not be a good choice for transporting items, while cargo-worthy containers are typically ideal for this use.
  • BOTH Cargo worthy and wind and watertight containers WILL have some visible damage and rust.


Contact the Shipping Container Condition Experts at Rent-A-Container

Not sure which shipping container condition you need to choose? The expert team at Rent-A-Container has you covered. With our easy online container rental and purchase process and highly trained and friendly sales staff, we make shipping container shopping as easy as it can be.

Ready to get started? Give Rent-A-Container a call at (800) 880-7061, contact us via our website or shop our available inventory, directly.

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