SHIPPING CONTAINER MARKINGS
Did you ever thought why shipping containers have marks like letters and numbers, here is an excellent explanation by the Bureau International des Containers et du Transport Intermodal 41, Rue Réaumur, 75003 PARIS, FRANCE | Tel: +33 147 660 390 | Fax: +33 147 660 891 and in English parlance sometimes called International Container Bureau Oversees standards for intermodal containers, commonly referred to as “shipping containers”
ISO 6346 is an international standard covering the coding, identification, and marking of intermodal (shipping) containers used within containerized intermodal freight transport. … The standard is managed by the International Container Bureau (BIC).
The Safety Approval Plate, conforming to the model reproduced beside, shall take the form of a permanent, non-corrosive, fireproof rectangular plate measuring not less than 200 mm x 100 mm.
The words CSC SAFETY APPROVAL, of a minimum letter height of 8 mm, and all other words and numbers of a minimum height of 5 mm shall be stamped into, embossed on or indicated on the surface of the plate in any other permanent and legible way. All characters shall be of proportionate width and thickness, they shall be durable and in a color contrasting with that of the container.
WHAT DOES ISO SIZING MEAN FOR YOU?
Although the multitude of markings printed on containers can seem overwhelming, all ISO means is that you can be guaranteed that the container you expect is the container you get, with no need to whip out the tape measure to make sure. At Unit Hire all our shipping units are ISO sized, meaning that you’ll know exactly how much you can store, how much room it’ll take up and just how long it’ll last (a very, very long time since you ask).
CONTAINER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER
The identification system provides uniform international identification of containers, in documentation and in communication associated with the movement of containers from door to door. It consists of:
- The owner prefix (BIC code): three capital letters of the Latin alphabet to indicate the owner or principal operator of the container,
- The equipment category identifier: one capital letter as follows:
- U for all freight containers,
- J for detachable freight container-related equipment,
- Z for trailers and chassis,
- The serial number: six Arabic numerals, left at owner‘s or operator‘s option,
- The check digit: one Arabic numeral providing a means of validating the recording and transmission accuracies of the owner code and serial number.
The letters and numerals of the owner code, equipment category identifier, serial number and check digit shall be not less than 100 mm (4 in) high.
All characters shall be of proportionate width and thickness, they shall be durable and in a colour contrasting with that of the container.
SIZE AND TYPE CODE
This information is mandatory.
When displayed on the container, the size and type codes shall be used as a whole.
SIZE CODE DESIGNATION
The two alphanumeric characters used to designate the size code of the container are chosen as follows:
- First character, representing the length, see link to table 1;
- Second character, representing the width and height, see link to table 2
TYPE CODE DESIGNATION (ISO 6346 AMENDMENT 3)
The third characters gives the codes to identify the container type and other characteristics related to its type.
Warning: new container type code using an alpha character in the 4th position of the size-type code indicates a container of reduced strength. (See detailed type code ‘b’). see link to table 3
You can also access the container size and type code information via an API ( for direct system integration) using BIC’s BoxTech – Global Container Database.
MANDATORY OPERATIONAL MARKS
Operational marks are intended solely to convey information requested for the movement of containers or to give visual warnings. They relate to
– the weight of containers,
– a sign warning of overhead electrical danger,
– a height mark for containers higher than 2,6 m (8 ft 6 in).
Maximum gross and tare mass
They shall be marked on containers in characters not less than 50 mm high as follows.
The maximum gross mass shall be identical to that shown on the CSC approval plate.
Some owners also indicate under the tare, the net weight available as payload.
Sign warning of overhead electrical danger
The mandatory sign warning of overhead electrical danger for all containers equipped with ladders shall consist of a black symbol on a yellow background, surrounded by a black border.
The height of the symbol (lightning flash) shall be a minimum of 175 mm (6,875 in). The size of the warning sign, measured between the outside edges of the black border, shall be not less than 230 mm (9 in).
The mark shall be located in the area adjacent to the ladder.
Height marks for containers higher than 2,6 m (8 ft 6 in)
Mandatory height marks for containers higher than 2,6 m (8 ft 6 in) consist of sets of black figures on a yellow background, surrounded by a black border.
The upper set of figures shall give the height, in metres, to one decimal place (0,1 m), but shall not indicate less than the actual height.
The lower set of figures shall give the height, in feet, to the nearest inch, but shall not indicate less than the actual height. To have space, the symbols ’ and ” are used instead of ft and in, respectively for feet and inches.
The size of the mark measured between the outside edges of the black border shall not be less than 115 mm x 155 mm (6 in x 4,5 in), and the size of the figures shall be as large as possible, consistent with the need for clarity.
The mark shall be displayed in two places on each container, i.e. near the right-hand edge of each side, at a distance of no more than 1,2 m (4 ft) from the top of the container and within a distance of 0,6 m (2 ft) from the right-hand edge, below the identification number of the container.