Shipping Container Markings [Infographic]

Shipping container markings infographic Freightera

Container Markings. What Do They Mean?

[Updated May 2019]
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Everyone who works with shipping containers uses the container markings. All markings have a meaning and understanding it is critical for handling containers, whether you are a hauler, exporter, importer, container depot or a warehouse, and whether a container is stationary or in motion.



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1) The Name of Container Owner or Lessor – This identifies the owner or lessor of the container, for example, the shipping line Maersk Line, or the leasing company Triton International.

2) The Container Number – The main identifier of the container. A container number is made up of 7 characters in an alpha-numeric sequence, made up of 4 letters and 7 numbers. This number is unique to a container and is never duplicated.

– First 3 letters: Owner code (e.g. MAEU for Maersk Line)*
– 4th letter: Category Identifier. U, J, or Z:
o U for all freight containers
o J for detachable freight container-related equipment
o Z for trailers and chassis.
– First 6 digits: Serial number
– 7th digit: Check digit (see below)

This owner code is registered with the Bureau International des Containers et du Transport Intermodal (BIC).

3) Check Digit – It’s the last digit of the container number listed above. This number is used to identify if the container number sequence is valid or not.

4) ISO Code – International Standards Organisation under their code IS06346 gives each container type a unique ISO Code in order to avoid any ambiguity in identifying the size and type of container.

5) MAX. GW – Max Gross Weight indicates the maximum weight that the container can carry. Gross weight includes the tare weight of the container.

6) TARE – This is the tare weight which is the weight of an empty container. This is an important weight to be considered by all ship operators and planners as this weight needs to be included when container stowage planning is done.

7) MAX. CW or Max. Payload – The maximum weight of the cargo that can be packed in the container. This is the weight that is shown on the bill of lading and it DOES NOT INCLUDE THE TARE WEIGHT OF THE CONTAINER.
Shippers must pay special attention to ensure this weight is not exceeded when calculating the weight of the cargo.

8) CU.CAP. or Cube – The maximum volume in the cubic capacity of the container.

9) CSC, ACEP & Other Certifications – Every legal and in-service container will have a valid safety approval plate called CSC (Container Safety Convention) plate in accordance with the International Convention on Safe Containers of 1972.

10) Classification society label for type testing – This label shows the classification society that has tested and certified this container for strength, cargo worthiness, and seaworthiness.




January 2018 /Freightera @Freightera
Shipping Container Markings – Infographic – © 2018 Freightera

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