We understand that while shipping containers are more complicated than the simple box they appear to be. We've put together an FAQ section, detailed shipping container dimensions & specifications, and a little more information about us to make the process easier. If you still have some questions, please always feel free to contact us.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The most common question we get is, “can I pick a color” and the answer is: sort of, sometimes.
Because we’re essentially getting the next container off the stack at the intermodal depot that meets the criteria you requested, we can’t select a color… however we can sometimes get a handful of colors (blue, yellow, red, green, maroon, etc.) if a certain shipping line has excess capacity in your market. We list those as a condition where they are available. If it's not listed, it's probably not available in your market...
You can always have your container painted, and that usually takes a week or two and price varies by market (it’s also only seasonally available in some markets, and not available at all in others).
If you're ordering multiple units, we can usually guarantee matching units (upon request, based on availability).
Exporting a container is far more complex than buying one. We highly recommend all customers who need to use their container for export work with a freight forwarder first... and then reach out to us to buy the container about a week or two before you plan to pick it up.
We also recommend that your freight forwarder coordinate all of the trucking. Because we offer ground level delivery, and can't move loaded containers, you'll likely need a crane to load your container onto the chassis when the truck comes to pick it up. A simpler option is to work with your freight forwarder to arrange a hauler to drop the container on a chassis so you won't need a crane to load it onto the trailer later.
We are happy to provide a cargo worthy (CWO) container, as well as coordinate a CSC survey at the depot prior to your hauler picking up the container (learn more about CSC surveys here)
We do not move loaded containers under any circumstance.
If you need moving services, we suggest calling companies like PODS.
We do not move containers we did not sell/rent.
If you need an existing container moved, we recommend working with a local heavy haul company or heavy duty wrecking/towing company.
Because the containers are stacked at the intermodal depot, we cannot obtain photos or guarantee a specific unit. The depots are storing empty shipping containers for shipping lines and intermodal equipment providers. When we place an order for our customers, they just get the next container off the stack that meets their criteria.
We help our customers buy containers from the depot, the same way the big national storage container companies buy their boxes. When you buy through Western Container Sales, you’re buying a shipping container at wholesale, pulled directly from cargo circulation. We help you navigate the process of purchasing a used shipping container directly from the cargo pool.
Intermodal depots are extremely busy places, and 90%+ of container traffic at depots is cargo related. Unless you have specific business to attend to at the depot, we don't recommend visiting.
Customers who are picking up their own equipment will be provided with a release number and depot information... however unless you have a release number already we recommend waiting to visit the depot.
If you have the proper equipment to safely transport a shipping container, our preferred option is for the customer to pick-up their own box.
After purchase, we will provide you with a release number and pick-up information. You can then go to the intermodal depot on the release and have the container loaded on your truck.
Please be aware you are required to comply with all DOT and OSHA rules while at the intermodal depot and Western Container Sales cannot be liable for any issues during transport.
If you don’t have a truck capable of safely hauling a container, we can help you with delivery.
We take your online security seriously. All payment processing happens on secure third party sites like Paypal, Stripe, Bread, or Shopify's Payment Gateway (credit cards used in the Shopify portal are processed by Braintree and credit card payments for rentals are processed by Stripe). Western Container Sales uses these third party sites because they are industry leaders in eCommerce transactions. Stripe is trusted by companies like Pinterest and lyft for processing online payments. Braintree is used by companies like Boxed, Uber and StubHub. We simply tell the payment gateway what you had in your cart and they manage your secure transaction.
Beyond the payment, our site is validated with the high level EV SSL. You'll notice in addition to the green "https" that your browser displays to show your connection is secure, you'll also see our company name next to the web address in a green box. We took the extra step to ensure your transaction was more secure.
Because all of our payment processing is managed by third parties, Western Container Sales doesn't keep complete information regarding your credit card or payment method (only enough to identify your transaction). Our goal is to ensure a high level of transaction security for all of our customers.
We need 40' of additional space for tilt-bed trucks, and 60' of extra space for roll-off trucks. Visit the About Delivery page to learn more.
Plan on having at least 10' of width to fit the truck and 13'6" of clearance height (when the container is tipped off the back, plan on a peak height of around 16').
Probably nothing. Maybe paint…
There are several large national companies selling used shipping containers. The keyword there is selling. Western Container Sales doesn’t pay our sales team direct commission on sales, nor do we have an executive management team requiring us to mark-up equipment 50% or more.
We run lean, and pass the savings to our customers. Western Container Sales leverages our relationships with intermodal equipment providers and shipping lines to find the best used shipping container prices in each market, then we add a wholesale mark-up. That’s it.
Watch the Video on the FAQ page for more info.
Western Container Sales uses the shipping container grades that are used by shipping lines. CWO means “cargo-worthy” and that a container can pass a CSC inspection to be stacked and transported on a cargo ship.
WWT means “wind/water tight” with working doors that seal. A CWO box is also “wind and water tight” but a WWT box can no longer be certified for shipment (without repair). WWT boxes are more likely to have cosmetic issues simply due to their age, but all WWT containers can be repaired to CWO status.
“One trip” containers are “cargo-worthy” containers that were manufactured within the last 1-2 calendar years and generally have little to no cosmetic issues (maybe a few dings/dents and scraped paint from being stacked, but that’s it).
Western Container Sales has partnered with Bread to offer our customers the opportunity to finance their purchase. Please Note: all financing decisions are handled by Bread and any inquiries as to credit approval, etc. should be directed to Bread. Bread is an independent company and not affiliated with Western Container Sales other than in our partnership to provide our customers with a third party option for financing their purchase.
Learn more about how to pay over time using bread here.
A lot of our competitors use grades like “A Grade" but that’s a bit misleading, we think. If you call the big national rental companies and they tell you they can sell you an “A Grade” box that just means a container that is wind/water tight and may or may not have been painted since they bought it. Or maybe it's got less rust than you'd normally expect on an average WWT grade unit.
Either way, it's a grading system totally based on opinion and we've seen a lot of variability as to what people call "A Grade" around the country. If you hear “A Grade” you can safely translate it to "WWT" condition.
One trip containers sometimes have a paint or chemical smell because they’ve had their doors closed for 99% of the time since being built.
If you buy a one trip container and it has a paint smell, we recommend leaving the doors open for a few days to let it air out. If you’re still having issues after that, give us a call… but letting the container air out usually does the trick.
Similar to one trip containers, used containers have their doors closed with minimal air circulation for 99%+ of their existence.
It's not uncommon for a container to have a lingering odor, and it can usually be resolved by opening the doors and letting it air out (industrial strength odor neutralizers also help, and can be purchased at most hardware stores).
If you've ever been in a semi-trailer, your container will probably smell similar to the inside of a semi-trailer.
That depends on where you take delivery. Western Container Sales primarily acts as a broker, helping customers buy shipping containers from international logistics providers with equipment in local intermodal depots. At this time we only charge sales tax in California, Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota, Montana, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, & Washington.
We do not charge sales tax if the buyer is tax-exempt (form must be provided to Western Container Sales prior to purchase, please contact us if you believe your purchase should be tax exempt). Please note that Agriculture Exemptions are not applicable, and a valid sales tax exemption certificate must be provided.
We make every effort to comply with local and national tax laws, so please note that this may change at some point.
The customer has the right to refuse delivery if for some reason the container does not meet the criteria requested at purchase.
Our goal is to give you a realistic idea of what you’re getting up front. Check out our sample photos and read about the process before purchasing a container for the first time.
If the container is rejected because the truck cannot safely drop the container exactly where you wanted it, the customer will be charged for trucking as well as a re-stock fee of 15% (when applicable).
Neither you nor Western Container Sales wants the container to be rejected at delivery. Please make sure you check out the sample photos and have a full understanding of what you’re getting before you purchase for the first time.
If you’ve looked at everything on the site, and you’re still not sure, give us a call. We’re always happy to help.
Check out the video and information on the About Delivery page for an overview and the delivery process.
The most important thing is to have enough room for the truck to drop the container. 20’ containers require 60’ of space (20’ for the box and 40’ for the truck), while 40’ containers require 100’ of space (40’ for the box and 60’ for the truck).
If a 20’ container is delivered on a semi (for instance if multiple 20’s are being delivered on the same truck) please account for the additional space.
If delivery is rejected due to the driver being unable to safely back into the location, the customer will be charged for trucking plus a re-stock fee of 15%, so please make sure you have adequate space at your location.
The location also needs to be level. You can either lay concrete or gravel, or you can place railroad ties or blocks capable of supporting the container. A good rule of thumb on railroad ties or blocks is to have on under each end and then additional blocks every 10’ or so (depending on your surface area).
A level surface is crucial to doors lining up, so blocks are a good idea to have in place. Western Container Sales does not provide blocks, so please make sure you have your site ready at delivery.
The biggest issue with tough doors is an uneven door frame. If the ground underneath the door frame is uneven, or the container is loaded heavy to one side, or on a surface that causes it to bend or twist, the doors won't open and close properly.
Container doors are built to be open and closed when the container is sitting squarely on a chassis. Over the course of 20' or 40', it's possible for a container to twist just enough for the door frame to be out of whack.
Placing wood blocks under the door frame at the corner posts is the best way to solve that problem before it starts. You can also use an industrial lubricant on the hinges and work the doors back and forth for a few minutes to loosen them up...
Not sure what the difference between a high cube and a standard container is? Check out this chart for interior and exterior dimensions as well as weights and capacity by size.
We do not offer the sale of refrigerated containers due to the inconsistency and limited availability of the used inventory for sale. There are companies who specialize in refrigerated shipping container sales and rentals, and we recommend you work with one of them when purchasing a refrigerated or "reefer" unit.
Due to limited inventory availability and the complexity of managing delivery of 48' and 53' containers, we do not offer them for sale or rent.
Generally we consider a bulk discount to apply after 10+ units per order. For customers who would like to order more than 10 containers, we recommend filling out the contact form on our corporate site: RailboxConsulting.com
PLEASE NOTE: Customers who purchase containers from us to re-sell to their customers must manage their own trucking.
We can still offer smaller discounts on purchases under 10 units. For that pricing, please open a chat or give us a call to let us know about your container needs.
We can add up to two (2) roll-up doors to each broad side on 20's, and one (1) roll-up door to the bulkhead (end opposite the door).
We can add up to three (3) roll-up doors to each broad side on 40's, and one (1) roll-up door to the bulkhead (end opposite the door).
Because roll-up doors "roll" up and down a track (similar to a garage door) they can let some moisture in around the door area during heavy rain.
We recommend customers that choose this modification option plan accordingly when loading the container (usually keeping items 3' or more from the door should be more than enough to keep your items dry).
Because containers are generally considered a by-product of trade, they are not titled. In order to move a container, you'll always need a trailer (which will require a title and vehicle registration), but the container itself does not require title or registration in the United States.
Used container pricing is driven mainly by local supply, and 40's are a far more common container size than 20's...
Because containers are a byproduct of shipping, the containers that move the most cargo tend to be the most widely used. So 40's (standard and high cube) are the most common used container length and tend to be most less expensive per square foot than 20's.
You can't fit a lot of cargo in a 10' container, so they're not a commonly used size for shipping companies. 10's are usually only used for custom projects and are very uncommon.
Contact us if we weren't able to answer your question in the FAQ, we're always happy to help.
Shipping containers are held to very specific dimensional standards to ensure they can be safely stacked on top of, and below, any other shipping container in the world. Standard shipping containers are 8' wide, and are measured in TEU's (twenty-foot equivalent units). Ocean cargo containers are held to a rigid standard to ensure that there are no issues during shipping. Each intermodal shipping container (sometimes called "conex" containers) must be able to not only stack perfectly on a cargo ship, but also lock into chassis trailers safely and securely stack on rail cars. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) sets the standards for shipping container dimensions (via ISO 668).
The information listed on intermodal shipping container doors is standardized so that the container can be handled at any port in the world. From the manufacturer information on the CSC plate, to the size & capacity information, to the container identification number, everything is standardized on a shipping container. Furthermore, to ensure the same equipment can safely handle the containers anywhere in the world, shipping containers are held to a very specific set of specifications and dimensions.
A sticker or plate to identify such things as High Cube containers, hazardous cargo, or other such labels. High Cube shipping containers will also have yellow decals at the top of the frame on each end, to make the extended height more noticeable. High Cube containers have an outside height of 9'6" (one foot taller than standard shipping containers, which are 8'6" tall).
The Convention for Safe Containers (CSC) Plate includes information on the date and location of manufacture, as well as other specifications. Learn more about the Convention for Safe Containers on the International Maritime Organization's website. And make sure to purchases CSC survey if you need to use your shipping container for export.
Locking rods are bolted to the exterior of the shipping container cargo doors and frame, that seal the door tightly when twisted closed and clasped. A broken or bent locking rod can mean that a door won't seal properly. We guarantee doors will seal on every shipping container we sell, but it's always a good idea to grease the hinges and make sure the door frame is square.
Each shipping container has a unique identification number. The first three letters represent the container owner (registered with the Bureau International des Containers "BIC"), and those are followed by a "U" for dry containers, and then six more numerical digits for the unit number. The 7th number is a "check digit" used by calculating the value of each letter and number in the ID. Check your check digit with BIC.
To ensure safe handling, and stacking on ships, containers should not be loaded heavier than the weight specifications listed on the door and CSC plate. Please note, however, that local shipping weight regulations may be much lower than the maximum payload of the container. For instance, many shipping containers can handle over 65,000 lbs of cargo, but loading them that heavy would exceed FMCSA regulations.
Each of the shipping container cargo doors is fully surrounded by a rubber gasket. The gasket allows the steel doors to be shut tightly to prevent both weather getting into the the container. It also helps keep cargo from spilling out if the freight shifts or pallets fail during transport. Good gaskets are essential to a cargo container being wind/water tight. Cargo door gaskets are covered by our 1-year warranty.
Western Container Sales is a division of Railbox Consulting, LLC, a privately held company based in Minneapolis, MN. We are employee owned and operated, with the goal of making the process of buying and renting containers simpler for our customers.