Empty shipping containers are building blocks of global trade. This piece will guide you to get your hands on boxes at the most competitive price. Also, learn how you can avoid empty container repositioning. 

Did you know that every third container shipped around the world is empty? But, even then, getting your hands on empty shipping containers is not easy. The containers are often stuck on congested ports or moved only to locations with high demand. 

As a result, the prices of containers are always fluctuating. And so, it gets difficult to find containers that fit your budget in your location. Even more when you are dependent on brokers and third-party to source containers for you. 

What if we tell you there’s a platform where you can resolve all these problems? On Container xChange, you can directly buy empty shipping containers from sellers in 2,500+ locations globally. You get container offers from multiple sellers in just a few easy and quick steps. So, compare prices and buy containers in your budget. 

We have over 10,000 containers available across sizes and types.

Do you want to buy a single container and don’t have recurring container needs? Have a look at our basic membership, which is ideal for one-time buyers!

Also, try out our public search below to find container offers in your location. Just enter your location and container type and hit that ‘Search’ button. Give it a try now 👇

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New and used empty shipping containers for sale 

One of the first things you need to decide is the condition of the container you need. A new container promises you prime condition, longevity, and a good resale value. But, obviously, you’ll have to shell out big bucks to buy these containers. On the other hand, a used container may not be of the best quality but will be significantly cheaper.

20ft and 40ft container

So, the key to deciding is to ask yourself: What is my purpose for buying containers?

If you plan to use containers for a long time (15-20 years), you should opt for a new shipping container. It’s a one-time investment. Plus, you can always sell it in the second-hand market. Shipping lines, container leasing companies, container traders, medium to big freight forwarders, and NVOCCs prefer buying new containers. 

If you are looking to use containers for not a long duration (8-10 years), then buying an old shipping container will be the wise decision. These containers come with slight dents and damage, but they’re perfectly fit to ship cargo. Plus, you can always use them for storage purposes. Freight forwarders, NVOCCs, medium to small container traders, cargo-owners, and medium to small businesses prefer buying used containers. 

Although, you should know that not all used containers are of the same quality.  Head over to this blog to learn about different kinds of container conditions: New, wind, and water-tight (WWT), cargo-worthy, and as-is. 

Wondering where you can find new and used containers? We have an ample supply of both new and used shipping containers on our container trading platform. You get to do this and much more without paying us a dime with our basic membership plan. Click on the banner below to see container offers in your location! 

Get best prices for boxes

How much is an empty shipping container? 

The price of empty shipping containers depends on a lot of factors. Most of the time, it’s the container demand in a location that drives the price of containers. 

Here’s a rule of thumb: Containers usually have a higher price in locations with a high export volume compared to import volume. As a result, the prices of empty shipping containers in exporting countries like China, Vietnam, Singapore, and Indonesia will be relatively higher than in other locations. 

But that’s not all. External factors also play a big role in influencing the price of shipping containers. Let’s take the example of China. 

As you can see in the graph below, prices of TEU were high during last year’s peak shipping season. The container prices began to fall during the holiday season and Chinese New Year in December-February. Ideally, the prices should have risen after that. 

Average price of 20ft empty shipping container in China

But unfortunately, China underwent several strict lockdowns for months because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Plus, the Russia-Ukraine war further affected the shipping industry. Looking at the graph, you can see how the prices of shipping containers have taken a hit due to these disruptions. 

As you can see, the prices of empty shipping containers can be volatile — depending on various factors. It’s good to follow market developments closely to find the right time to buy containers. 

Average prices of empty shipping containers 

Now, let’s look at the average prices of empty shipping containers at three main locations: 

A brand new 20ft empty shipping container in China can cost you around $3,483. Whereas, you can buy a used (cargo-worthy) empty container for around $2,435

Similarly, a brand new 20ft empty shipping container in India will be priced at around $3,628. But a used (cargo-worthy) empty container will only be around $2,344

In the Netherlands, a brand new 20ft empty shipping container will be $3,871. Whereas, a cargo-worthy container will be around $2,190.

On the xChange trading platform, you get complete market transparency over container prices in 2500+ locations. Once you submit your location and container type, you’ll receive offers from multiple sellers in one dashboard. Look at these offers to know the market trend for the prices. Click here if you want to know the current container price trend in your location. 

11 types of empty shipping containers on one platform 

There are many kinds of shipping containers. Different container types carry different types of cargo. So whether you’re shipping oversized cargo or perishables, you can easily find the right kind of container for your precious cargo on our trading platform. 

Let’s look at 11 types of empty shipping containers available on xChange.

No Type of containers  Description Sizes 
1 Dry container These containers are usually made from steel and are air-tight and water-resistant. 20ft, 40ft 
2 High cube container They offer you a foot of added vertical space. They’re ideal for shipping bulky cargo. 20ft, 40ft, 45ft
3  Reefer container These containers are like big refrigerators that allow you to control the inside temperature of the container. 20ft, 20HC, 40ft, 40HC, 45HC
4 Open-top container They have no roof, making them ideal for odd-shaped cargo such as heavy machinery. 20ft, 20HC, 40ft, 40HC, 45HC
5 Double-door container These containers have doors at each end which makes it easier to load and unload cargo.   20ft, 20HC, 40ft, 40HC, 45HC
6 Side door container They have extra doors on the long side of the container. This makes it easier to load and unload bulky cargo that doesn’t fit through the end doors. 20ft, 20HC, 40ft, 40HC
7 Hard top container These containers have a detachable hard top and it’s great for cargo that can’t be loaded through the side doors. 40ft, 40HC
8 Pallet-wide container They are designed specifically to carry wooden Euro pallets that are commonly used within Europe. 20HC, 40ft, 40HC, 45HC
10 Tanks,T3, T7, T11, T14, T22, T75 Tanks are made of strong steel and anticorrosive materials to securely ship hazardous and non-hazardous liquids, gasses, and powders. 20ft
11 Insulated Container  Insulated containers keep a consistent temperature inside the container, no matter the outside temperature. 20ft, 40ft, 40HC

Now that you know about different container types, it’s time you explore just how easy it can get to buy containers you need. You no longer have to laboriously search for traders of standard and special containers. Neither do you have wait for ages to enquire for prices. Our trading platform has 10,000+ containers at your disposal. Just enter what type you need and you’ll get a list of offers from sellers in one dashboard. Wouldn’t that save you time, energy, and resources? 

Click on the banner below to find containers that suit your cargo.

Find all types of empty shipping containers

You should know that buying a container means you’ll be responsible for repositioning it. But don’t worry, we have a solution for how you can move your container. Let’s first clear up a very crucial doubt. 

What happens to an empty shipping container?

Once the container gets discharged at a port, it gets transported to the consignee’s distribution center or warehouse. It’s at this point that the container becomes empty. Usually, three things happen with empty shipping containers. 

  • The empty shipping containers are loaded with a new batch of cargo and shipped from the port to their new destination. 
  • They are shipped to their new destination sans cargo due to empty shipping repositioning. 
  • Or, they get piled up at depots and ports. 

Ideally, all the containers should be carrying freight. But you’ll be surprised to know that out of 170 million containers that get shipped every year, at least 60 million are, in fact, empty. This is called empty container repositioning — one of the biggest crises in the shipping business. 

What is empty container repositioning?

Empty container repositioning refers to moving empty containers from a location with a surplus of containers to a location with a deficit. To put it simply, carriers move empty containers from a port that doesn’t have cargo to another port that doesn’t have containers. 

Let’s understand this through the Container Availability Index (CAx). The CAx is a tool that monitors the import and export of full container load (FCL) around the major ports. 

  • A reading of 0.5 means that the same amount of containers leaves and enter a port in the same week. 
  • Reading > 0.5 means that more containers enter — indicating container surplus. 
  • And, a reading < 0.5 means more containers leave — indicating a container deficit. 

Let’s look at the map below. The CAx values for four major ports of the world: Los Angeles, Rotterdam, Dubai, and Shanghai are 0.86, 0.8, 0.58, and 0.58, respectively. According to CAx, the ports of Los Angeles and Rotterdam have more empty containers than Shanghai and Dubai.  

Container availability of TEUs during July

In all likelihood, these ports are flooded with empties. The containers will have to be moved from these overflowing ports to locations where there’s demand or shortage.

Moving containers empty burns the pockets of carriers and container owners. Every year, empty container repositioning costs the industry more than $20 billion. That’s more than 12% of operating costs for shipping lines!

What causes empty container repositioning? 

Unfortunately, empty shipping repositioning is not just a seasonal or a one-time phenomenon.

If you look at the graph below, you’ll see how the ports of Los Angeles and Rotterdam observed a surplus of containers throughout the year than the container-deficit Shanghai and Dubai. So even though all the four ports are busy throughout the year, why do Los Angeles and Rotterdam have more empty shipping containers? This is because of container imbalance. Let’s understand it in this context. 

Container availability at major ports of the world 2022

China is a major manufacturing hub. As a result, raw materials and goods are mainly exported out of Shanghai. Since the exports surpass imports, the Chinese port has less empty shipping containers. On the other side, regions like the US and Europe are primarily importing rather than exporting. And so, ports like Rotterdam and Los Angeles continue to face pile-ups of empty shipping containers.

Now, you don’t want your containers to be buried at a port. So, you’ll have to get them repositioned. And empty container repositioning is only going to burn your pockets. But what if we tell you there’s a way to move your containers without opting for empty container repositioning?

How to avoid empty container repositioning? 

Believe it or not, there’s a way. 

You can make your container available for one-way leasing. In this leasing arrangement, the shipper will use your container to move their cargo only one way. What they’re essentially doing is that they are moving your container for you on your desired route. This way, they get to move their goods and you get to reposition your container. It’s a win-win! 

If the destination is advantageous, the shipper might even pay you a pick-up charge for leasing your container. In all probability, this is going to be extremely rare since you’re most likely to reposition containers where the demand is high. 

But be assured that you’ll save the freight rate. And this is the biggest advantage of renting your containers for one-way leasing!  

Are you wondering where you can find such shippers? You can simply use our one-way leasing platform to connect with 1000+ members waiting to rent your containers. Just make your containers available and get contacted by vetted users.  

See how an NVOCC from India has saved thousands of dollars on empty container repositioning through xChange

Buy empty shipping containers at the best prices on xChange 

Now that you don’t have to worry about container repositioning, it’s time to make your move. 

At xChange’s trading platform, you can find containers that meet your requirements and price points in 2500+ locations. All you have to do is specify your requirements, compare the offers, and negotiate directly with the sellers.

Want to buy a single container? Our basic trading membership is ideal for exactly those needs!

Is buying and selling containers a part of your job? And do you have to buy containers on regular basis? Then our Professional membership will help you profit from a long row of benefits.

Benefits of the xChange trading marketplace

For just US$190 per month, you get unlimited access to the platform and its 1,500+ members. As a professional member of the trading platform, you can:

  • Find vetted partners and make deals. Riskfree.

All companies undergo a mandatory vetting process before becoming members. This means, that you can do business with all xChange members. Risk-free. On top of this, all companies also have public profiles. Here, you can see reviews from previous partners – and how they’ve rated them. Want an extra layer of security? Keep on reading!

  • Make 100% secure transactions

Not only, does xChange ensure that all sellers are vetted. We also protect the buyers. So, you don’t have to worry about paying and not getting your assets. Our dedicated Customer Service team makes sure that your container operations go smoothly. And that your payments are completely secure.

  • Know market cost and negotiate better prices on containers

Find the containers that fit your needs – and compare prices with other offers. On the trading marketplace, you get a full overview of available containers. And you can see what other sellers want for their boxes. Not satisfied with the price? Text the seller right on the platform and agree on a price right then and there.

  • Choose between 10,000 boxes and make unlimited deals

Do you need a container type that you can’t find in your current sourcing channels? Don’t worry. With over 10,000 containers located across 2,500+ unique locations, Container xChange makes it easy for you to find the containers you need.

You get all this right from your computer screen and much more for just US $190 per month. Want to see how you can do business with companies such as Trident, Seaco Global, and SeaCube?

Then click on the banner below and book a free 15-minute tour of the platform with our expert team.

Empty Shipping Container: Common FAQs

Where are all the empty shipping containers?

The empty shipping containers are stacked in inland depots, ports, and other storage locations. They can also be aboard vessels that reposition them to ports where they're needed.

What is the price of a 20ft container?

The price of 20ft containers varies globally, but usually it’s between $2,150 and $3,207, depending on the container availability.

How much does an empty shipping container cost?

The price for an empty shipping container depends on the availability and equipment type. A cargo-worthy 20 DC may cost between $2,150 and $3,207, whereas a cargo-worthy 40 DC may cost between $2,550 and $4,525.

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Want empty shipping container? Buy at best prices [+reposition]
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Find an empty shipping container in a few simple steps. Get the best deals while avoiding empty container repositioning and shortage.
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Container xChange
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