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Home » Shipping Containers » A Quick Guide to Buying Shipping Containers

A Quick Guide to Buying Shipping Containers

A Quick Guide to Buying Shipping Containers

If you are looking at shipping containers for sale, here is a quick guide to help.

SPLS can help find and purchase a container on your behalf.

Reasons for purchasing a shipping container

Shipping containers are also known as cargo containers, freight containers, ocean or sea containers, and occasionally rail containers.

However you want to call them, most people or businesses will investigate cargo containers for the purpose of importing or exporting goods. There are various other reasons, however, that people consider shipping containers for sale.

  • Use as long-term storage containers.
  • A high volume of import or export where purchasing containers is more cost-effective than renting.
  • Unusual destinations where it is difficult to return rented containers to the shipping line in a timely manner. This can incur demurrage fees (effectively late fees) that can become costly.
  • Creating a shipping container office.

New vs used shipping containers

Shipping containers are graded into three different categories.

  • A grade – New or near new shipping containers.
  • B grade – Used shipping containers, but still wind and watertight.
  • C grade – All others. Typically used just as storage containers.

The grade of the cargo containers needed is dependent upon the intended usage. Obviously, if you are shipping good by sea freight, wind and water tightness is ideal.

The quality grade of the container will also have an impact on the price of purchase.

Shipping container sizes

Cargo containers come in a variety of standardised sizes. Some are more common than others, however, and sizing may have an effect on the ease of transportation.

Most container sizes are described using the US imperial unit of “foot”. By comparison, 1 foot (ft) is approximately equal to 30.5 centimetres (cm), or 3.3ft is approximately equal to 1 metre (m).

The most common sizes of shipping containers are;

  • 20ft container – most common size for sea containers. Available as both general-purpose (GP) and High Cube (HC) heights.
  • 40ft container – another standard size for a sea container.
  • 10ft container – Half-length of the standard 20ft shipping container. Not common.
  • 45ft container – Typical sized rail container. These are an ideal size for rail, but not commonly shipped by sea.
  • 48ft container – Similar to the 45ft container.
  • 53ft container – mainly used in the USA. Also, not all are suitable for sea transportation.
  • General Purpose – Most 20ft and 40ft containers are General Purpose (GP). They have a height of 8ft6.
  • High Cube – Slightly greater height container. High Cube (HC or HQ) have a height of 9ft6 providing greater volume and allowing taller items to be loaded.
  • Other types – Refrigerated (reefers), liquid tank, bulk, open-top, pallet wide.

The 40ft and 20ft shipping containers are the most common standard sizes. They will be transportable on almost any shipping line in the world. Other container sizes may not be so easily transportable by sea and have other intended uses.

Shipping container cost

Shipping container prices will be dependent upon a variety of elements.

  • As noted above, A-, B- or C-grade. Cheap shipping containers will generally be lower grades.
  • Larger containers will generally be more expensive.
  • Type of container. Specialised containers will be more expensive.
  • Is the container you want easily accessible.

An average 20ft container price will be around $3,000 with a 40ft container price being around $3,500. These will be variable based on the factors listed above.

New and used shipping containers

If you are looking to buy a shipping container for any reason, SPLS can help. With decades of experience in freight forwarding, we have purchased containers for many of our customers.

We can help source and purchase a shipping container for you. Contact us for more information.