Marking of Containers

What are Container Markings?

High cube, Reefer, Open top and flat rack container Dubai, UAE

The shipping containers carried on the back of monstrous trucks are a sight to watch. A little intimidating, yes, but mind-boggling, nevertheless. Have you ever wondered what the markings on their back doors are?

They depict vital information regarding the container for public display. It is mandatory for shipping containers to reveal details as prescribed by the law to ensure the safety of goods as well as human life involved in transportation and carrying. Let’s take a quick look at each of these markings.

Container Number

Probably the most important container marking, container number is a unique alpha-numeric sequence containing 7 numbers and 4 letters. They help identify the containers internationally. Container numbers are comprised of the following components

  • Owner prefix
    The first 3 capital letters of the name of the company owning the container. If the container is leased out, the prefix will be taken from the leasing company’s name.
  • Equipment category identifier
    Equipment category identifiers are U – freight containers, J – detachable freight containers related equipment, and Z – trailers and chassis.
    Note: Owner prefix and equipment category identifier are together called alpha prefix.
  • The serial number or registration number of the containers
    Serial numbers are assigned to the container owners. It consists of six digits.
  • Check digit
    The last portion of the container number, check digit, is placed at the left end of a container number. Check digits determine whether the ID is valid or not.
ISO Code

ISO codes are assigned by the BIC to eliminate complications while naming a container. The first character of the ISO code denotes the length, the second character denotes the width and

height, while the third character denotes the container type. The 4th character is a container code that denotes a container with reduced strength.

Maximum Weight

The maximum amount that a container can carry including the weight of the container.

The weight of the container

The actual weight of the empty container.

Max Payload

The maximum weight the container can carry. It is the difference between (3) and (4)

Cube – Max

The max volume that can be packed into the container in cubic capacity.

CSC Plate

All shipping containers used for international transport must have a valid CSC plate.

ACEP/PES stickers

Containers, in order to be used for commercial purposes, have to undergo regular inspections under the ACEP or PES schemes. Without these, shipping containers are not allowed to board ships.

Mandatory operational markings

They are warnings for the public to avoid danger while transportation of the shipping container on trailers or during loading and unloading

These are the major markings you have to display on shipping containers in order to use them for commercial purposes. The containers Boxhub leases out or sell are inspected and marked regularly to relieve our customers of the paperwork hassles. If you need help putting up one for your container or need to get it updated, Boxhub will lend you a hand

What are CSC Plates?

The International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC), conducted in 1972, convened by the UN and the International Maritime Organisation, put together certain regulations by formalizing the international safety requirements for the inspection and maintenance of cargo containers. The major objectives of the CSC are as below:

Follow necessary instructions to ensure the safety of human life during the transportation and handling of shipping containers.

Draw uniform international safety regulations across the world in CSC adopted countries. (They are referred to as contracting parties.)

Governments usually delegate the tasks of testing, inspection, and approval to authorized organizations. Once approved, containers are allowed to sail in international seaways.

Container buying & selling in Dubai

Regular CSC Inspections to stay free

Shipping containers are to be scanned at regular intervals to ensure their safety. Container owners should get them checked from time to time with the help of auditors and inspectors.

The 2 inspection programs recommended by the CSC are:

  1. Periodic Examination Scheme (PES):

    Containers must be examined within 5 years of manufacturing. After the first servicing, they should undergo an inspection every thirty months. As a rule, the CSC plate is to be marked with the next date of examination (NED).

  2. Approved Continuous Examination Programme (ACEP)

    If a container undergoes repair or service under the ACEP, it should be marked with the scheme number on the CSC plate, often in the form of a decal. It is obligatory for the contracting parties to make the list of the ACEP schemes available to the public. The Global ACEP Database operated by the BIC is the recommended method of publication by the IMO.

Boxhub, Your One-stop Solution for Csc Safety Compliance

At Boxhub, we have a team of certified inspectors who will look into every aspect of CSC and IISL compliance for our shipping container customers. We relieve you of the pains of paperwork and servicing by providing the best maintenance services in the Middle East and Asia.


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