The Complete Guide to Buying a Shipping Container

There’s a reason why the job outlook for the water transportation industry is expected to increase by 12% over the next decade. As the strain on the global supply chain increases, we rely on this form of shipping to bring us the goods we need.

Shipping containers are an important part of this industry. But, despite their name, these containers aren’t just for shipping. If you’re thinking about buying a shipping container, you’re probably wondering where to get started.

The good news is that you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you should consider before purchasing one of these containers. Let’s get started!

Know Where You’re Going to Put the Shipping Container

To purchase a shipping container, you will first need a place to receive the transportation and store it. The ideal place is on level ground that’s firm, not soft.

It should also be completely free from pooling water which can damage the container. Avoid any areas with the following features:

  • Overhead obstacles
  • Sharp turns
  • Rough terrain

In some cases, you may need a permit to own a shipping container. This is especially true if you’re setting it up on the property for home or office use. If you plan on setting the container up for an extended period, you will need a permit.

However, this is only true if you live on less than two hectares of land. Shipping container permits last for around six months. But, if there are no complaints in the time you’ve had it, then it’s easy to extend. 

What Are You Going to Use the Container For? 

The specific use of the container will go a long way toward determining the right one for your needs. For most general-purpose shipping you can’t go wrong with most dry storage containers.

These are the most common types of shipping containers ship dry goods. But, if you plan on shipping refrigerated goods, like fruits and vegetables, you will want a refrigerated container.

Similarly, if you plan on shipping something tall, then go with a high cube shipping container. These types come with an extra foot of height to accommodate items that can’t fit into the standard size.

Need even more headspace? Go with the collapsible ten-foot-tall model. If you plan on retrofitting a shipping container into a living space, office, or similar use, then go with a dry storage container.

Just make sure that it’s in a good condition without any major leaks or exposures to the elements. 

Container Size

Containers come in a variety of sizes. If you plan on shipping or storing an object, then it’s recommended that you measure it first.

That way, you know exactly what container size to get. You can find containers in the following common sizes:

  • Twenty-foot containers – 8′ 6″ in height and 8′ wide
  • Forty-foot containers – 8′ 6″ in height and 8′ wide
  • Ten-foot collapsable container – 8′ 6″ in height and 8′ wide
  • Fifty-three-foot high cube container – 9′ 6″ in height and 8′ 6″ wide

At first glance, you might think that the smaller the shipping container the more affordable it will be. However, this is the opposite of the truth. The truth is that to make smaller containers manufacturers need to cut larger ones down.

This is a difficult and time-consuming process. Hence, the higher price tag for the smaller cube. 

Container Condition

Since these containers are mainly used for shipping most companies will grade structure and aesthetic separately. This makes sense when you think about it. After all, a little rust doesn’t matter if you’re shipping dry goods.

All that matters is that the container stays sealed and doesn’t leak. However, the aesthetic condition might concern you if you want the container for a living situation. As such, make sure that you ask about it separately.

If you want the newest shipping container possible, then look for “one-trip” condition. This is as new as you’ll find it, save for a few bumps in the transportation process. Cargo worthy (or CW) is a container condition where the seller declares it fit for shipping.

That means that it will pass recertification and it has a valid Container Safety Convention (CSC) plate. Wind and watertight (WWT) is a used condition that is no longer acceptable for shipping purposes.

However, this makes it great for storage use. The last one is as-is. This type of container condition comes with major structural damage to the sides and flooring. This is the definition of a fixer-upper, but definitely good if you want a cheap shipping container. 

Find a Shipping Container Dealer

There are a variety of ways that you can find a shipping container for sale, but the easiest way is online. All you need to do to find a dealer is go on sites like eBay or Craiglist.

However, if you can, we recommend that you go with a reputable dealer instead. The main reason for this is that they let you perform a pre-purchase inspection, which some user-seller sites might not allow.

Also, make sure that your dealer has a wide selection of shipping containers. You want to be able to choose from the cream of the crop, not the bottom of the barrel.

If you need a recommendation, look no further than the 10,000 containers offered by Tuff Shipping Containers ( 

Buying a Shipping Container Shouldn’t Be Hard

We hope this article helped you learn more about buying a shipping container. Depending on where you live, purchasing a container can either be easy or a real headache.

However, the most important factor is finding the right type of dealer. This will go a long way toward making the process easier.

Did you love this article? Keep reading our blog for more helpful lifestyle tips and advice.

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