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Shipping Container Identification

Tuesday, 29th September 2009
Shipping containers can be easily identified by their unique 7 digit serial number. This serial number is accompanied by a four letter prefix which is also unique and denotes the company which originally had the container built, these prefixes end in the letter “U.” The container serial number and prefix is generally applied to the container using a vinyl decal and these can be located one on each side, the front end, rear end and roof of the container. This enables the serial number to be seen from many angles when in stacks or ships cell guides. With container storage depots and vessels on occasion holding over 10000 TEU (twenty foot equivalent units) the need to identify each individual container is obvious. Depots or ports will use this serial number to track the container around their facility. The last number is known as the check digit and some companies do not include it in their records. Another method of identifying containers is by their size and type the names of which have been adopted by the industry for obvious reasons such as open tops, high cubes, flatracks and reefers. Some companies chose to have their containers painted and logos fitted in their individual liveries. Most standard shipping containers have a decal panel, which consists of a flat vertical panel where vinyl logo’s can be applied. In addition most shipping containers are fitted with a CSC plate. This stainless steel plate riveted to the exterior door shows where the container was built, by which factory, date of manufacture, the individual container serial number, the manufacturers I.D no. and customs approval number.


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