Choosing and purchasing the correct shipping container based on the needs of your cargo transportation is a vital part of the import/export process.

Pre- and Post-Purchase Inspection

inspectionPre-Purchase Inspection

If you are close enough to the container to inspect it in person, that would be the best route to go. Otherwise, try to be specific about what you want to be shown on a photograph or video to ensure you get a good examination of the container.

Post-Purchase Inspection

After the container has been delivered, you can inspect it once more. Until the container is on the ground, you would need to do a brief exterior inspection. If you spot something wrong, you would need to point it out before signing the acceptance form.


How and What to Inspect

The Container’s Structure

A shipping container is supported by a series of cross beams. You would need to ensure that these beams are in good condition since damage here is not as easy to fix as other patchable parts of the container.

Inspect the Container’s Walls

A close inspection on the walls is advised to see whether some surface rust or dents are present. If you’re not sure, tap the area in question gently with a hammer and keep your eyes peeled for flakes that might fall off.

The Container’s Roof

To inspect the roof, you would need to get on top of the container. If there are some questionable areas in terms of surface rust or deeper dents, the hammer test can be applied. Just ensure that your body weight is as far away from these areas as possible.

The Floor

Since the most common floor type is plywood, mould and chemicals are things to look out for when inspecting the floor. Do a smell test to identify any questionable smells, but be careful not to inhale too much of it in case it’s harmful.


There is a lot of paperwork involved when purchasing a container, and it’s important to ensure you have the correct ones, such as the container identification number, the type code, classification society approval, etc.

Types of Containers

New Containers

A new container, as the name suggests, is one that has never been used to transport shipments before. They are still, however, handled at ports and may show subtle signs of exterior use.

One-Trip Containers

One-trip containers are used only to deliver a single shipment before being put up for sale.

types of containersRefurbished Containers

A refurbished container is a used container that has undergone some exterior restoration, usually cosmetic. The restoration can include anything from a fresh coat of paint to the removal of dents.

Used Containers

A used container can be quite a vague term – it can be anything from having only been used a few times, to showing evidence of extensive usage and/or damage. You would need to investigate this properly to ensure you’re not investing in a container that won’t last much longer.


Cargo-Worthy (CW) Containers

While they may not be as appealing, CW containers are still perfectly capable of transporting cargo without many issues. They are a better choice than most used containers.


Wind & Water Tight (WWT) Containers

These containers are often indistinguishable from CW containers, although in some cases they tend to look slightly worse – for example, a dent might be a bit too deep for it to be classified as a CW container. They can be found for good value, however.