FAQ 8: Used and new containers – what’s the difference?

Which container should I choose? Why is this container more expensive than another one? These are common questions for a reason, because the container variety includes many models in many conditions.

Containers are primarily available in two condition classifications – new and used. With used containers, the condition of the containers varies much more than with new ones. In this blog post, we try to explain the differences between these classifications through examples, so you’ll know what you are buying. 

New containers

New containers are almost always One Way containers, meaning that they have (usually) been brought loaded from Asia to Europe before they are sold. There might be small dents from transportation, and containers that would be perfectly flawless are not available. Even if the container was empty when imported into a country in Europe, small marks always appear during transportation on trucks, trains or ships.  

A new container is the best choice when you need clean and odourless space for example for storing furniture or personal property. Another factor that supports buying a new container is its long life, thanks to which the operating costs of the container remain very low. A new container will last for decades in storage use, so if you know that the container will be used for long-term storage, the recommended option is a new container. If it is for transportation use, you don’t have to worry about whether the condition is suitable for shipping or if the container has CSC stamps, as these things are almost inevitably in order with new containers.  

The last advantage is the clean looks of the container – it can be placed to a visible spot without any doubts. You also have more choice with the colour options when dealing with a new container, compared to used ones.

Most common uses for new containers:

  • Storing personal property
  • Long-term storage
  • Products that are sensitive to odours
  • Products that are easily broken during transportation, e.g. paper rolls.
New containers are very clean both from the outside and the inside.

Used containers

Used containers have usually spent around 5 to 10 years at sea before the shipping companies release them for other use. The condition of these containers varies significantly, depending on the age and use. The price is always dependent on the condition and the age of the container. The poorer the condition of the container, the lower the price.

Used containers (especially those sold as ”as is”) sometimes require some paint, straightening of doors and replacing/fixing weather strips. 

Used containers can be roughly divided into two condition categories:
1. Cargo Worthy, i.e. CWO/CW, containers
2. As is containers, meaning the container is sold in the state that it is in, not suitable for cargo

Cargo worthy containers are suitable for shipping, meaning there are no bigger holes in the containers, the doors work, the floor is intact and the walls are straight. The containers may often look a bit disfigured, but they are designed for cargo use, so the functionality is more important than the looks. If the looks of the container play a major role in acquiring a container, we recommend purchasing a new one. Cargo worthy containers are reliable, durable and have an excellent price-quality ratio. If you need a container for cargo use (sea/train/truck), you need to make a choice between a new one and a cargo worthy one. 

As is containers aren’t suitable for cargo use, meaning they can’t be used at sea. This may be due to twisted walls, broken doors, holes in the roof or walls of the container, a broken floor, etc. As is containers can be used for storage if the stored items are not too sensitive for the weather conditions. This is also the choice for you if you are looking for a container that you could fix up yourself and that is as affordable as it could possibly be.

The state of used containers varies significantly. All the containers in the picture can be used for shipping, although their looks differ.

Most common uses for used, cargo worthy containers:

  • storage (for example metal, timber and building materials)
  • cargo use (sea, train, highway)
  • storage for worksite (machinery)
  • project buildings, for example as a motif for buildings

Most common uses for as-is containers:

  • storage for items that aren’t too sensitive to the conditions
  • the base for a DIY container, if you know how to work your tools

Is something essential missing from this text, or would you like to know more? Add a comment or email us.

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