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How Shipping Container Grades Are Determined

Shipping Container Gradings

Shipping containers, whether they are used to ship goods overseas or converted into mobile housing or storage units, receive a grade, but different companies use different grading systems These grades shows the user how well the container will perform and what it can be used for. The Institute of International Container Lessors (IICL) is the leading trade association for the container industry. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the IICL sets the standards for the shipping industry.

What are the grades a container can receive?

Many companies grade their containers with on a three grade scale: A, B, and C. Grade A containers are in top shape and are probably worthy of shipping, grade B containers may have a few dents and scratches but can be used for storage. Finally, grade C containers have sustained major damage and can be used for scrap or storage.

The IICl certification system determines whether containers can be expected to meet the rigorous demands of international shipping, therefore its classification system is more stringent, and is more concerned with structural integrity than cosmetic presentation.


Containers that are certified IICL meet the highest criteria in the industry. IICL containers are in good physical and cosmetic condition and can withstand the demands of overseas shipping. Most IICL certified containers are new or have only been used once.

Cargo Worthy (CWO)

If a container is deemed cargo worthy that means that it meets the criteria for overseas shipping. CWO containers need a valid CSC plate (convention for safe containers), to show that they have been inspected and deemed worthy of travel. This plate is placed on the door and states how long the container is CWO certified for.

Wind and Watertight (WWT)

Wind and watertight containers are exactly as their name suggests. However, WWT containers are not used for shipping because they have not been certified. WWT containers are mostly used for commercial or residential storage.


AS-IS containers are units that have sustained damages such as loss of sections of steel, rust, doors that don’t open fully, structural integrity issues, rotten floors, etc. These containers are mostly sold for recycling the steel they’re made of.

What you’re using the container for will determine the type of grade you should be looking for. For those in need of storage, a container deemed WWT, or graded A or B, will probably suit your purposes.

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