New v/s Used shipping containers – The Ultimate Guide

If you are someone who is a rookie in the world of shipping business or even if someone is willing to flourish your export-import business, the preliminary question that every businessman faces is whether to lease or buy containers. But once this question has been resolved and you decide to purchase containers. The next quintessential thing worth considering is what kind of container you would need. Once you sort out your requirements and demands, you can easily pick up one type of container from the long list of different container types. But most of the people are confused in choosing between new and used shipping containers- Some are ready to spend dollars for brand new containers while some wants to save on by buying second hand containers. So, it is not just one aspect but various aspects demand your attention while deciding on the type of containers you need.

This article will act as the ultimate guide and help you gain some insight to decide whether to opt for new ones or used ones.

Let’s discuss the pros and cons of each one of them so that you can now finally stop tossing up whether to get a brand new shipping container or save some bucks by investing in used storage containers.

New Shipping Containers


Some benefits of buying new containers are as follows:

  1. No risk of Cross Contamination: Since a brand new shipping container is a freshly manufactured unit that has never been used earlier for any kind of shipment, there is absolutely no risk for your cargo getting spoiled or contaminated or getting exposed to any kind of toxic or hazardous material previously transported. Regardless of what you use it for, there’s no fear of contamination and you can rest assured.
  2. Pristine Condition of the container: A brand new container is sparkling from inside as well as outside as it is freshly painted, devoid of any kind of dents or scratches. Since it’s an unused one, they don’t have any previous branding. So, you won’t have to waste your valuable money on repair and paintwork.
  3. Air Tight: Nothing beats the brand new sealing of containers to make them airtight and watertight that is quite efficient in keeping dust, debris, moisture, and vermin out. These brand new seals ensure that the cargo is well protected.
  4. Sea-Worthiness: For shipment of containers through a container vessel via the ocean, certain quality standards of sea-worthiness must be met that are there to keep a check on the quality of containers being transported. You can be assured about them with the new ones.
  5. Safer for modifications: Generally, used containers are utilized for repurposing for inhabitation or setting up a business but newer ones are safer for modifications as they are free of any risk of contamination. Therefore, new containers can be used for building houses, roadside restaurants, etc. Forklift Pockets: The newer designs are fitted with forklift pockets making them easier to maneuver around a yard as these were lacking in the older containers.
  6. Longer Warranty Period: Since they are new, they come with a longer warranty period by the manufacturer than received on a used container. This will certainly help you to relaxes your new investment is covered.


  1. Cost per new unit: This is a given that a brand new container will come at a higher price. So, it’s really important to decide whether this extra expense is worth it or not.
  2. Too Good for Storage: If your primary purpose of purchasing a container is storage unless you’ve got sensitive goods at risk of contamination from the used ones. There is no need for this extra expense in case all you have to store is old machinery, documents, etc.

Used Shipping Containers


  1. Used as On-Site Offices: The used intermodal containers which are in pretty good condition can be utilized for making mobile on-site offices as aesthetics don’t matter here and the incurring extra costs can be avoided.
  2. Cheaper rates: One of the biggest selling points favoring second-hand containers is the rates offered depending on the quality grades which will surely save you a few bucks.
  3. Quality Grades according to requirements: A shipping container can be used for a variety of purposes. So, depending upon the grade of the container you need, you can still bargain with the sellers to cut down the buying cost. For instance, a B or C grade container is good enough for a garden shed, backyard workshop, etc.
  4. Manufacturing Ablution Units: These are the perfect solution for building mobile toilets for various occasions such as sports events, concerts, exhibitions, etc.
  5. Great for Leasing Out: Even though new containers can be used for hiring out to others but they will lose their value once used many times. Thus, it makes more sense to purchase a grade used containers and use them for leasing out.


  1. Risk of Cross Contamination: The history of the previously transported items in a used container cannot be definitely determined and can be a real concern here. This creates room for cross-contamination in case you are transporting perishable stuff or sensitive items in the containers.
  2. Loss of initial grade of air-tightness: The containers after being used several times lose their original state of airtight and watertight seals. This makes dirt, moisture, and pests access the contents resulting in damage to the transported or stored cargo. These containers will not qualify as a test of seaworthiness. However, A-grade containers may still have their seals in place.
  3. Limited lifespan: An average life expectancy of a regularly used container is approximately 12 years. But if you buy a container that has been used for nearly 6-7 years and you decide to use it for intermodal transportation of cargo, it won’t be long before these containers end up for recycling as scrap metal.

Final Decision

There are certainly upsides and downsides to each one of them. But if you wish to find the right choice of container for you, grab a piece of paper make a detailed list of your requirements and the amount of capital investment that can be tolerated by you. Weigh down all the pros and cons mentioned earlier and think which one suits you the best.

For best advice regarding this or anything related to the shipping containers, you must consider talking to your logistics provider and have a thorough discussion with him about your requirements, investments, expected outcomes, and benefits. If you are wondering how to buy used cargo containers, LOTUS Containers have the best experts to guide you through the process. Whether you want to buy shipping containers in California, Germany, or any corners of the world, we are omnipresent. Get in touch and enjoy the best ever container buying experience.

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