How to Buy a Freight Container

Freight containers are used heavily every day to ship goods across the world. They also have many other uses, however; they can be used as storage containers, mobile offices, and even homes. Freight containers are produced in standard sizes and feature very durable construction. As such, they are very versatile options for the enterprising buyer. You can buy a freight container easily through the Internet.


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    Determine whether you want a new or used container. Shipping containers can often be purchased new by individual consumers, but it is much less expensive to buy used ones. Because they are made from heavy-gauge steel, used freight containers often show little wear or damage.
    • Because of global trade imbalances, and because it is cheaper for exporters to buy new containers than to ship used ones back, it can be much easier to find used containers in some countries than others. Countries like the United States, which have a high import-export ratio, often have vast surpluses of used freight containers.
    • Used containers will typically be priced according to their condition. Miles travelled, weather conditions, and handling by forklift and crane operators will all impact the container's condition. Dents and rusting are the most common problems to look out for.
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    Determine what size container you want. Freight containers are produced in standard sizes according to ISO (International Organization for Standardization) specifications. Nearly all containers are 8 feet (2.4 m) wide by 8 feet (2.4 m) high. They are produced in lengths of either 20 feet (6 m), 40 feet (12 m), or 53 feet (16 m). Interior dimensions may vary between manufacturers.
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    Find a seller. Many companies selling freight containers can be found online through a quick search engine query. Some companies also post their containers for sale on eBay. Finding a seller will allow you to begin inspecting the containers for sale. Aside from the container's overall dimensions, all other factors to be considered will need to be inspected through photographs or in-person. Look for a seller who posts detailed photos.
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    Inspect the doors of the container. When browsing for containers for sale, it is important to inspect the doors. Dents or rust can make the container's doors difficult or impossible to open. Hinges, when rusted or out of line, can keep the doors from swinging properly. You also want to check the location of the locking gear. A low locking gear works well when the container is mounted on a trailer, but if you will be using the container at ground level, you should opt for a high locking gear.
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    Evaluate whether the container is watertight. Regardless of how you use the freight container, the roof will need to be watertight. The seller can demonstrate this to you by photographing the container's roof from the inside on a sunny day. Any holes will show clearly in the photo.
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    Determine your required delivery option. Some sellers may require you to pick the container up, which means you'll need to rent a flatbed or tilt-bed truck. Other sellers might deliver the container for a fee. Deliveries by tilt-bed trailer will allow you to position the container where you want it; deliveries by flatbed truck will require you to have a forklift or crane to unload the container.
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    Assess the cost of the freight container. The cost of the container will vary based on all the factors mentioned above. You should compare the seller's price to similar containers from other sellers.


  • If you are planning on using the freight container for storage, consider a heavy-gauge plastic container instead. These containers are much lighter and easier to transport; they are often able to be towed by a pickup truck.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Internet access

Article Info

Categories: Moving House and Packing