Shipping Containers for Export

Shipping Containers for Export

This guide is for anyone who needs shipping containers for export use. If you use a freight forwarder or an average shipper or exporter, you typically won’t need to buy your own container as they and/or the shipping line will lend you a container for export use provided you are using one of their ships and as you are not going to a destination where they don’t want their container to be exported to. Usually, this is the most cost-effective option for exporting goods and the least stressful. However, there may be occasions when you need to export goods using your own containers.

20ft used shipping container

For example, you may be exporting cargo where the shipping lines don’t want their containers to go such as a war zone or area of political instability, or you need to ship to an extremely remote area (where it will cost more to return the shipping container than the container itself is worth) such as a small island or to a polar region. In instances such as this, buying and exporting your own containers might provide you with more options and greater flexibility than the shipping lines can offer. There may also be cases where you with to use more than one shipping line for an export job to a remote area. your own container will offer you best flexibility in this situation also.

Our biggest area for export grade container sales are to customers who can also sell their container on for a profit at destination. A lot of African and middle eastern shippers find they can re-sell the container for a profit as well as the goods they are shipping. Well, containers have many other uses outside of storage and export use. They have a range of uses including converting in to a small home or office. Or you want to convert the unit in to a workshop or tool/storage shed.

Or, you are working on a large infrastructure project and need to use the container as a mobile office or just to securely store your goods.

The other reason you may choose to purchase your own export use containers is simply because you are moving a lot of freight back and forth between countries and you like the flexibility of being able to load goods at your convenience. Mind you, if you are moving a large volume of imports/exports, you’ll be a large and important buyer to a shipping or shipping lines. If this is the case, you may elect to talk to us about volume purchases of export ready containers.

If, however, you do not need to purchase a shipping container for export use, and simply wish to have your goods exported in a container, delivered to your destination address, emptied of its cargo and then returned to port, your best option is to discuss your requirements with a Freight Forwarder.

The easiest way to find a freight forwarder is to simply search the Internet for ‘freight forwarders’ or visit www.bifa.org. BIFA is the ‘British International Freight Association’. Basically, freight forwarders specialise in exporting goods around the world via air or sea freight. When you deal with a freight forwarder, they will provide the shipping container, you arrange to fill it, they then collect and export it and arrange for local delivery at your destination address. You’ll need to unload it upon arrival so the container can then be returned to port for further export use.

A freight forward will handle all aspects of the shipment with you just needing to arrange to fill and then empty the container upon arrival overseas.

What else should I know?

If you’d prefer to buy your own shipping container, it must have a valid CSC plate. All containers used for export purposes must have a valid CSC plate. The CSC plate is rather like and MOT and confirms to ports and shipping lines that the container is safe to lift, how heavy it is, how much cargo it can hold and whether it can be stacked on-board ship or in port without causing any risk to life.

Used 40ft open top container with tarpaulin

If you order a container from us, please ensure you specify you require a container with a valid CSC plate. Please ensure this request is reflected on our invoice and for good measure, check there is a valid CSC expiry sticker on the metal plate that’s located on the container doors.

Before ordering your container, please check if you need a 20ft or 40ft container (standard height or high cube), how you are going to pack your goods to ensure they are secure and won’t shift during transit, who is going to deliver the loaded container to port and if they can supply a bolt seal for the cargo doors. You can buy bolt seals from us if you wish. Each bolt seal has a unique code that is recorded each time the container is handled and is your assurance that your container has not been opened during transit. The only party that can open your container are customs and they will replace the bold seal with one of their own and again, this will be reflected on your paperwork.

If you intend to arrange your own shipping etc. we provide the following as general advice to help you but, for peace of mind and to ensure that your container and goods are exported with any ‘hitches’, use a freight forwarder.

General advice

Use a lot of common sense and ask lots of questions if you are new to exporting.

Make sure you have a freight forwarder helping you. If its your first time make sure your happy with the person you’re dealing with as well as the price.

Let everyone know that you are new to the world of export and let them help guide you through the process

Try to anticipate what each person in the chain is thinking and ensure they hand off the relevant information to the next party in the chain

If you are still in doubt about how to go about the exporting process, by all means call us. We are happy to talk about your project and provide some pointers or to provide a complete solution using trusted partners.


If you have any questions about this article, our products or service please call our friendly team for free on 0800 999 8988 any time 08:30-19:00 weekdays or send us a message via the contact form on this website and we will get back to you.