A Guide to Container Grading

Boxman > Shipping Containers > Container grading

How to grade the condition of shipping containers

Shipping container condition is based on structure and aesthetics

There are effectively two ways of grading the condition of a shipping container - structure and aesthetics. These can be quite exclusive of each other. For example, a container may be structurally sound for shipping purposes but may look unsightly due to rust and paint degradation, or due to lots of small dents.

Make sure you compare apples with apples

There are many different methods of container grading deployed in the container industry. We recommend you visually inspect the container before you buy to make sure you are happy with its condition.

Container grades: Structural and Aesthetic Grading

The basic structural conditions used in the shipping industry are:


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 used to describe the cleanliness and visual state 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 pdf with grading images

Boxman's container grading policy

At Boxman we classify our container grading based upon a combination of both the structural and aesthetic conditions. Because of our quality buying programme, the majority of containers we sell sit in the IICL5 or CW structural categories, and we rarely hold stock in the lower C and D grades. 

Shipping a container overseas

If you are buying a container to ship overseas 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 need to be shipped overseas in the future.

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