A Guide to Container Grading

Boxman > Shipping Containers > Container grading

How to grade the condition of shipping containers



Shipping container grades are based on structure and aesthetics

There are two main ways of grading the condition of a shipping container - structure and aesthetics. Both of these factors can be considered independently of the other, for example; a container may be structurally sound for shipping purposes but may look unsightly due to rust and paint degradation, or lots of small dents.

Make sure you're comparing apples to apples

It's important to note that grading is a subjective process, not only within a company, but across the container industry. This means that although two companies might both classify their containers in terms of grade A, B, or C, it does not mean that a Grade A container will be the same standard for both. 

Check it out before you buy it

Because there are lots of different methods of container grading used in the container industry, and unfortunately, there is not an overall industry standard, we recommend you get down to your nearest Boxman branch and visually inspect the container before you buy to make sure you are happy with its condition. Our staff will be happy to show you around and make this as easy as possible for you.


We're here to help

Boxman's container grading policy

Boxman source and stock high quality containers

Because of our quality buying programme, the majority of shipping containers we sell sit in the highest IICL5 or CW structural categories, and we rarely hold container stock in the lower C and D grades. All container companies should be operating to an International Convention for Safe Containers (IICL), and you can be assured that all containers sold by Boxman graded CW (Cargo Worthy), WWT (Wind and Water Tight) or better, meet the relevant standards.

With respect to repairs and patches, as long as these are completed to meet the IICL requirements this may not necessarily alter a particular grading. The images supplied below give an idea of the different container grades applied by Boxman.


Shipping container grading gallery

F (Food) grade container




A grade container




A- grade container




B+ grade container




B grade container




B- grade container




C grade container




D grade container



Container grading for shipping and storage

Structural standards are used in the container shipping industry and relate to the physical condition of the container:

IICL5

This is the international leasing inspection/repair standard, generally regarded as the most stringent.

CW (Cargo Worthy)

This is the standard used by most shipping lines.

WWT (Wind and Watertight)

This is a common standard used by container traders to classify containers that do not have a valid CSC Plate for shipping. Although watertight, these containers are not suitable for shipping for any number of inspection criteria.

AI (As is)

This grade classifies containers that have no guarantee that they are, or will remain, watertight or cargo worthy for any extended period of time. Often they have sustained damage that is not easily repaired such as large dents, holes or extensive, deep-seated corrosion.


Aesthetic grades are used to describe the cleanliness and visual appearance of the container.

Food Grade

Used to denote the highest standard of internal cleanliness.

Furniture Quality

Generally a very clean container that won’t transfer marks to cargo.

General Quality

Scuffed and marked with some rust showing.

Industrial Quality

Quite badly marked with widespread rust showing.

Download Container Grading Info

Shipping a container overseas?

If you are buying a container to ship overseas, then it must be fitted with a current and valid CSC Plate. CSC stands for ‘Convention for Safe Containers’ and is similar to a motor vehicle warrant of fitness.

Ask our team about validating the CSC Plate on your container if you believe it will be shipped overseas in the future.
As always, we're here to help you with all your container needs:

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