Detailed overview of different shipping container grades

The conditions of maritime container units can change over time. Its lifecycle just like anything else doesn’t last forever. How long can the same container transport goods and what conditions can a container have? There are some variations in the exact grading used by each supplier; however, a general grading standard applies to all. The grade or standard a maritime shipping container receives is often related to its value and realistic asking price. Hence, it’s essential to be aware of these grades when buying and selling your own container. In this way, you avoid being overcharged or underpaid for a container. Let’s take an example, a container may be sound for transportation purposes but may look a little unsightly due to rust and paint degradation, or small dents. How will you assess its price through grading? This article will explain all about the shipping container grades and its system detailing them.

What do container grades mean?

Container grades provide an idea of the condition of any given maritime container. These range from new units straight from the manufacturing plant, to much older builds with some or numerous aesthetic deformities or structural issues. Whenever considering a freight container for your own use, familiarize yourself with these grades when discussing prices and availability.

Types of shipping container grades

New Containers/ New-ish Containers

New containers are manufactured units that sail for the first time. The new-ish containers are "as good as new", hence referred to as new sometimes. It represents the epitome of craftsmanship. Everything looks premium and all the components are in top-notch condition. However, when the shipper or supplier receives it, there might be minor paint tears in the exterior part due to sailing in the sea. But, from the inside, it’s totally in standard new condition. It is fitted with a CSC Combine Data Plate so that it can be transported easily.

Used Containers

Used containers are the ones that have been in use two or multiple times. They may look a little droopy from the outside but are perfect for use in the initial years. They are the most sought-after ones since shippers or consumers can get them at a discounted rate when compared to new or one-trip containers. Used shipping containers that are used for a longer duration (15 years and above) and the ones that incur damages need repairs or can even be replaced. Using a damaged metal shipping container isn’t worth it despite saving money, as it can incur more repairing charges.

One-trip Containers

In most cases, the new and the one-trip shipping containers are used interchangeably as they are considered the same thing. But to be precise freight containers that are used once before they reach their destination are called one-trip shipping containers. The steel shipping container contains cargo, thereby preventing empty ones from reaching the shipper or the container suppliers after manufacture. Cargo-worthy conditions apply to one-trip containers before purchase most of the time. Having completed only one trip on the ocean, these units have a long lifespan.

Wind and Watertight Containers

Wind and watertight containers (WWT) and cargo-worthy quality don’t have much difference. Regular eyes cannot differentiate between them. WWT simply means that if you were to step inside the steel shipping container in sunlight and close the doors, you would see no daylight seeping in anywhere, as there are no holes or cracks and the door seals are sealed completely. According to the shipping container CSC certification, the WWT may have some damage, dent, or the box may be older, but work as efficiently. Even though this is the final stage, the shipping unit is deemed fit and counted in the refurbished or the “as-is” category.


Cargo-worthy graded containers are units that have been inspected and deemed worthy to be used in international maritime shipping. They are capable of carrying heavy loads. They function as efficiently as the new ones despite being old and CSC certification covers them. When it comes to appearance, they function properly even being mildly worn out from the outside. In case you’re looking to get a second-hand cargo container, getting cargo-worthy ones will provide you with the maximum benefits.

IICL Containers

IICL has its basis in the Institute of International Container Lessors. The containers that fulfill the defined standard of IICL belong to this category. IICL shipping units have spent 2-8 years in voyages and are in good shape. They might’ve received some repairs but when it comes to working or looking they are as effective as the new ones. Since they belong to the used category they are more affordable than the new ones.

As-Is State Containers

As-is state defines shipping units that aren’t cargo worthy and have prominent damages that even regular people can observe. Some shippers purchase them as they are available at very cost-effective prices. After some repair and restoration, they came into use again as cargo-worthy or WWTs. The structural damage is more in some of them. The scrapyard receives such boxes.


Scrap containers are cargo units that no longer serve the purpose of shipping cargo. Such containers are in use for more than 15 years and have noticeable damages. They don’t receive CSC certification. Extensive repairing or recycling takes place for them. The scrapyard usually acquires such container types. As mentioned earlier, using a damaged shipping box isn’t worth it despite saving money, as it can incur more repairing charges.

By looking at the shipping container grades, one can infer what exactly they want, where they should invest, and optimize to get the maximum benefits. The grades help in identifying what condition freight units are in so consumers get a clear idea about them.

LOTUS Containers is a maritime shipping container provider who exclusively provides CSC and ISO-certified boxes since 2008. We provide the right steel shipping container for each cargo, keeping economy and versatility in mind. Whether you need brand new or used containers, reefers, or any other, we have it all covered. Rest assured that all maritime shipping containers are tested and have a valid CSC plate.

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