With so many businesses in container shipping, it can be difficult to figure out exactly who the container owners are. To add to the mystery are the many codes of numbers and letters on the containers, such as the container owner code. Here, we’ll try to decipher container logistics with you.

With more than 90 % of the world’s cargo transported with containers, it’s safe to say that shipping containers are everywhere. And the same can be said about container owners around the world. If you’re using shipping containers, chances are high that they are owned by one of the three container owner types below

If you’re already an expert on container owners, you can just jump straight to the important container owner codes here.

Or if you just want to know if you should lease or own containers – jump down to that part!

But for now, here are the different container owners.

Shipping lines

Shipping lines such as Maersk own the shipping containers, they use. For these shipping lines, it makes sense for them to be container owners. This way they can cost-effectively transport cargo around the world. For it to be cost-effective to be a container owner, you must have a constant demand. A demand you expect to continue to be continuously high.

But that doesn’t mean that the containers you use, don’t belong to a shipping line. Because there are times when complications or logistics require shipping lines to lease their containers. When a shipping line leases out its containers, it can save money when it comes to storage, repositioning, and maintenance.

Leasing companies

Around 52 % of the global container fleet is owned by 13 leasing companies. These leasing companies build containers with the purpose of leasing them out.

The leasing companies, such as Seaco Global, are basically waiting for shipping lines and other container users to be in need of shipping containers. That is why they have locations around the world stocked with containers – both the standard and the special ones.

Shipper owned containers

The shipper-owned containers are also known as SOC containers. And, as it states, the containers are owned by a shipper.

When you use a SOC container it’s most often for free. For when a shipper wants you to use their containers, it’s because they want their containers to be moved. In other words, you move their container and they don’t have to pay for expensive repositioning.

This is also called one-way container leasing.

But regardless of who owns the container you’re using, the shipping containers will have container codes and markings on them. All of them are important for the journey to go smoothly. As well as ensuring the safety of your cargo – and the container.

So many ciphers

On the doors of the containers, you find a row of numbers. These shipping container codes help identify and give essential information about the containers. Something that is necessary for all parties throughout the container logistics chain.

In the world of the shipping industry, many things have several names. The same goes for containers. Let’s take a standard 20ft. It can, for instance, be known as a DV (Dry Van) or SD (Standard). Different abbreviations that some people know and others don’t.

This is where the ISO code comes in. The ISO code contains four numbers. They show the container’s characteristics as the length, height, and specific qualities of the container. This way there won’t be any regional abbreviations on the container. Saving everyone from confusion and mistakes.

Under the ISO code, you’ll find the capacity markings. These markings tell you the capacity of the container. As well as its tare.

Container owner code

The important container owner code

One of the most eye-catching numbers on the container is the container number – and it is here, that we’ll find the code, that we’ll focus on today, the container owner code.

The entire container number is made of four letters and seven numbers. The first three of those letters make out the container owner code. The last letter is the product group code.

The numbers also tell a story. The first six are chosen by the owner. They are the serial number – one that all containers must have so that they can be identified.

The first three of those letters make out the container owner code. Those three letters show that the container owner is registered at the BIC.

The container owner code follows the container owner. This means that you’ll see the same container owner code on all the containers that the container owner has. That, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the container owner using the containers. They can also be rented or operated by others.

Being able to track containers and their owners is essential in the shipping industry. By being able to do so, stakeholders in the supply chain can track and guarantee, that the containers and the cargo are safe.

But how do you get one of these container owner codes? Keep reading, and we’ll tell you about that process!

Getting the container owner code

The owner of a container can, of course, apply for a container owner code. But so can a holder of a lease and an operator of containers. That is if they have full control over the containers as if they were the real owners of the containers.

To get a container owner code, there is an application you must fulfill. On BIC’s website, you have to give three different combinations, that you would like as codes – just in case your first choice is already being used by someone else.

After you have sent in the application, BIC will check your codes and see if they are used by others. If not, you will be assigned a code. If they are in use, you’ll be notified and asked to send new combinations.

When you have a code, the BIC will invoice you for a registration fee. The fee is EUR 2000. Your code number will be reserved for two weeks. If the fee hasn’t been paid before that, the reservation is canceled. And someone else can get that code.

Each year you’ll receive a renewal fee of EUR 536 from the BIC.

Leasing or owning

Depending on your situation it might make sense for you to lease or own the containers you use.

If you only need a few containers for storage, being a container owner makes sense. The same goes, if you need containers for an indefinite period, use containers frequently, and don’t need too many of them.

Buy shipping containersOn the other hand, you might be in a situation, where you only need to borrow a small number of containers. You could also be in need of a large number of containers, but only one way. Or needing containers for a short period of time.

These are just some of the situations where it would make sense for you to lease one-way containers.

At xChange, a neutral online platform that provides repositioning solutions, you can within seconds find SOC containers available to be used. All you have to do is type your pick-up and drop-off location. Then you’ll get a list of partners and containers matching your search.

As a member of xChange, you will get access to the global equipment pool, where xChange members have SOC containers in more than 2500+ places worldwide.

If you’re interested in how xChange can help your business, click on the banner below and schedule a quick demo with our team.