Get to know the different container depots around the world right here. And also, get an understanding of the functions and uses of a container depot to help you make informed business decisions.

A container depot is the most common term you’ll hear in the shipping business. In simple terms, a container depot is an area to store your shipping containers (temporarily) once they’re unloaded from the ship. But a depot is more than just this.

There are millions of containers dropped off at different ports by ships for loading and unloading purposes every day. When these containers reach their destination ports, the goods need to be stored before it’s time for distribution.

Additionally, as you know loading or unloading cargo can sometimes take longer. This is where these depots come in handy – to store your containers (temporarily) in a safe and secure place.

All in all, depots play a significant role in the shipping business. It’s home to millions of containers from across the world. And also help in the transportation of goods within the area.

Now that you’ve got an intro to what a depot is, let’s get into more details.

Container depot meaning and its functions

A container depot is an area where shipping containers are stored for transshipment. Depots are often called ‘secure facilities’ that provide essential services like freight consolidation, repair, and cleaning of boxes and more for shipping companies.

One of the biggest misconceptions about container depots is that they store fully-loaded containers. But in reality, it only serves as a holding facility for shipping containers until it’s time to reload. That’s because only a limited number of containers are transported at a time.

Moreover, if you have cargo that needs to be transported over a very long distance. Depots are also helpful in storing containers when the shipping distance between one country and the other is far.

Apart from this, depots also have other functions that they provide. Container depots are secure areas that solve the problem of bottlenecks and container storage issues.

Some depots are also equipped to handle Out Of Gauge (OOG) goods, which have extreme dimensions that surpass a standard container. Depots sometimes even help to get through a space crunch at the port or the hinterlands surrounding it.

container depot

Here’s an in-depth list of their functions:

Freight Consolidation

One of the main functions of a container depot is freight consolidation. You can bring your cargo to the depot, and get it packed and shipped. And if there are loaded containers in the depot, they are unpacked and distributed.


Depots also help with administrative and documentation processes such as:

  • Communication with the logistics company
  • Cargo loading and unloading
  • Managing receipt
  • Delivery of goods
  • Custom clearance

Depots pose as a blessing for cargo owners. It makes your life easier and saves a lot of time.

 Repair and cleaning

After customs clearance, the container is lifted using cranes for inspection and to categorize as damaged and operational. The damaged ones are taken to the maintenance facility for repair, thorough cleaning, and storage. And the operational ones are stacked separately for reuse.

Reefer storage facility

If you have a reefer that needs storing, depots also provide temporary storage facilities for reefers. It’s a refrigerated area for containers with temperature-sensitive goods such as fruits, vegetables, beverages, etc.

container depot functions

Do you see how beneficial depots are in the shipping business? Let’s now move ahead to explore what an inland container depot means.

 What is an inland container depot and how does it work?

An inland container depot (ICD) is a facility for storing containers located in the hinterland – far from the main ports. Before and after delivering shipping containers to the seaport, shipping companies store and move their boxes to the ICDs.

ICDS helps hinterland customers to receive port services closer to their premises. So, customers get to process their shipments near their godowns and factories, away from the far-off ports. In doing so, ICDs help in de-stressing and decongesting the main ports where the storage spaces are limited.

So, then how are inland Container Depots different from Container Freight Stations (CFS)?

Even though these are two different terms, many exporters, importers, shipping lines, and customs officials see no distinction between ICD/CFS as both work as consolidation points.

But there are some dissimilarities between the two:

  • In most cases, the CFS is located close to the port of entry and is mainly responsible for consolidating and segregating cargo. It mostly deals with any LCL cargo that you’ve sent out.
  • The main aim of CFS is to decongest the port. These stations are also connected to rail or road transport.
  • On the other hand, ICD is in the hinterlands away from the main ports. They mostly serve any FCL cargo needs you have and can also be connected to road and rail transport.
  •  It also helps you avail the customs-related services along with consolidation and storage of cargo.

Container depot locations and our list of depots in top hotspots worldwide

This can help you pinpoint the nearest depots, plan the travel time to the final destination, and also discover hotspot depot locations around the world.

Usually, a depot is inside a port or a terminal, and sometimes in hinterlands, known as inland container depots (ICDs) which we talked about in the previous section. The location of a container depot is an essential factor for you to keep in mind. When a container depot is closer to the terminals, it reduces movement resulting in a quick and effortless transfer of containers between locations.

Container depots are either owned by the state, private or private-public sectors. Different parties take up ownership in Europe and North America, such as port operators, rail companies, and shipping companies.

When it comes to Asia, depots in India and China are mostly state-owned. Especially in India, the Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) manages all container depots. Inland container depots in East Africa mostly fall under the private sector even though private-public partnerships are encouraged too.

List of container depots in our top locations



Depot Name

Depot website


Port of Antwerp Belgium DR Depots 23,000 TEU
Port of Rotterdam Netherlands DR Depots 20,000 TEU
Port of Shanghai China Donghwa Container 53,000 TEU
Port of Hamburg Germany Progeco Deutschland GmbH-Ellerholzdamm 120 TEU/day
Port of Genoa Italy Gruppo Spinelli 10,000 TEU
Port of Qingdao China Ocean & Great Asia Logistics Co.,Ltd
Port Klang Malaysia Eng Kong Holdings Pte Ltd.
Port of Ningo China Ningbo Victory Cntr Co., Ltd. 30,000 TEU
Port of Nhava Sheva India Bay Container Terminal Pvt
Port of Singapore Singapore CWT Integrated Pte Ltd
Port of Tianjin China Tianjin Keyun International
Port of Jakarta Indonesia Pt. Tungya Collins Terminal
Port of Dalian China Dalian Singamas International Container 16,000 TEU
Ho Chi Minh Port Vietnam Greating Fortune Container HCM
Port of Barcelona Spain Recomar S.A.
Port of Valencia Spain Trans-Base Soler, S.L.
Port of Karachi Pakistan Hussain Trading Agencies (Pvt)
Port of Mundra India Bay Container Terminal Pvt
Port of Livorno Italy Autamarocchi S.p.A
Port of Hong Kong Hong Kong Container System Ltd. 30,000 TEU

How Container xChange can help you get access to a container depot with ease

If you’re ready to find a container depot located near you, but not sure where to start, we can help you. We have a global container directory that will assist you to get specifics such as contact details, service offerings, and reviews of global container depots at your fingertips.

To see how our global depot directory works you can head on over to our website and request a demo. If you have questions, our team of experts is here to help you get started and guide you along the way! Finding a container depot cannot get easier than this. Try it out for yourself today!

Container depot design and layout: Why it’s important

You now know that most depots solve the issue of bottlenecks and space shortages. And also have high security so your containers are safe. But how do they accomplish this with ease? With the help of innovative design and layout of course.

Container depots are one of the busiest places you’ll come across. This means that the layout should have proper planning. The design should provide sufficient space for storage and promote high-level security. Thus, having a standardized design and layout is crucial for depots.

Furthermore, a standardized layout can ensure that your containers are arranged and stored appropriately. Large spreader cranes lift your containers high up before stacking them in order of arrival, departure, or companies they belong to. A good design ensures that these movements are carried out smoother and faster.

One of the main aims of a depot is to provide security to the millions of containers that arrive daily. And a well-planned container depot can increase efficiency and reliability.

A standard depot has various entry and exit points with security checks at each point. Some of these depots are equipped to trace the smuggling of drugs and other illegal substances and alert officials.

You can also find a customs office in a depot. They’re responsible to oversee the loading and unloading process in addition to regular inspection. There are also extensive road and rail networks connected across the depot which helps in easier and faster transportation of cargo.

Thanks to cost-effective technology and design innovation over the years, depots have increased container storage capacity and efficiency to what is it today.

container depot layout and design

What’s the difference: Depots vs Ports vs Terminals

There’s a lot of confusion between these three terms: depot, port, and terminal. They’re often misused or used interchangeably. But the fact is, depots, ports, and terminals are three different entities and have distinct functions and purposes.

Let’s have a quick comparison of the three.

Depot Port  Terminal
Depot serves as a temporary storage facility for shipping containers until it’s time for the reloading of cargo.  A port is an area where a ship docks to handle cargo (loading and unloading), and or passengers. A container terminal is a part of the port where containerized cargo is transported from land to sea and sea to land.

Find the nearest container depot at your fingertips with Container xChange

You’ve read all there is to know about the container depot to make wise business decisions, haven’t you?

And the best part is that, if you are looking for the nearest container depot location, you can sit comfortably in your office and let Container xChange take the reins.

You can find the nearest container depot in just a few clicks by providing a port name, city, or country. Not just this, you can even get other information such as contact details, service offerings, and reviews of global container depots on our global directory.

And as always, our expert customer support team is at your service to answer any questions you may have and guide you along the way. So, go on then and find your nearest depot with ease on Container xChange!

Container depot: Common FAQs

Why are container depots located close to the ports?

Container depots are close to the ports or terminals as it reduces movement time resulting in a quick and effortless transfer of containers between locations. It also saves a lot of energy and money.

What do you mean by Inland Container Depot?

Inland Container Depots (ICD) are dry ports that handle and store containerized cargo (temporarily). It helps hinterland customers to receive port services being closer to their premises.

What services do container depots provide?

A container depot provides many services. Though it’s primarily used as a safe facility to store shipping containers, here are a few common use-cases of a depot: - Freight Consolidation - Documentation - Custom clearance - Repair and cleaning - Reefer storage facility