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Buying a Shipping Container: Process, Planning and Preparation

08.05.2023 - Posted by Updated On 08.05.2023    

For most people, buying a shipping container isn't a regular task like picking up a jug of milk, or even buying a car. Shipping containers are long term assets that don't wear out like many other things, and because of this most people don't buy them on a regular basis; because of this there are usually a lot of questions about how to buy one, and what the process entails. Buying a shipping container does require some planning and preparation, but it's not nearly as complicated as you might think. To make it easier to understand we've set out the basic process in five easy parts. Of course, each scenario might have some other Purchasing Process

Buying a container through isn't like buying it through a local retailer; for some it's easier to buy local, but there are others that prefer to use a system like ContainerAuction and save a few dollars. When buying a container through a local retail operation they'll be able to show you the exact container you're purchasing, and it will probably be painted and cleaned up to be like new. When buying a shipping container online through a wholesale marketplace like, many times you'll be able to inspect the container prior to purchasing, but a representative may not be there with you to guide you through the depot. At the very least, a seller on will provide you with a shipping container for sale
set of pictures and you'll be able to pick out the container that best fits your needs (condition, color, and size being the biggest variables).

Once you agree with the seller which container you'd like, the seller will send an invoice and you'll be asked to remit payment. Payment is usually by wire or bank deposit, and sometimes by credit card prior to delivery. If you require another payment method like cash or check, please contact the seller in advance.

Scheduling Delivery

Once your container is selected, invoiced, and the payment is made, the release code will be issued by the seller. If you're having the container delivered the release code will mean very little to you, but if you're picking it up the release code is very important. What is the release code? The release code is issued by the seller and sent to the buyer and the container depot. Basically, it's a password that allows the buyer to pick up the container. The buyers name and the container unit number are connected to the release code. When the buyer picks up the container they present the depot with the release code, and the connected container is placed on their trailer or chassis.

Site Preparation

Preparing the site for the delivery of your shipping container can be as involved, or simple as you want. However, it's best to let the environment dictate that decision. Without rehashing previous articles, there are a couple of foundation options we recommend to put your shipping container on:

Container Drop Off/Delivery

If you're picking up the shipping container yourself, you don't have to worry about this step; however if you're having the container delivered this one is the final step in the process. Once your site is prepared and you're ready to have the shipping container dropped off. The drop off procedure is fairly straight forward. First off, and this is pretty important, you'll need to let the driver know in advance which way to load the doors on the container. Think about your property, and think about how the doors will be facing. When the truck pulls out from under the container will the doors need to be facing the front, or rear of the truck?

Periodic Maintenance

Periodic maintenance isn't vital to keeping a shipping container strong and rust free, but it will add years to the life of your container and keep it looking clean and presentable. Maintenance can be done annually, or even biannually depending on where you live and how harsh the weather is. Personally, I'd suggest a little upkeep and maintenance annually to prevent any rust/corrosion building up.

We've published several articles on keeping your container clean and in tip top shape, and one of the most popular articles can be found here, "Cleaning Your Shipping or Storage Container"

In a nutshell, you'll want to walk around your container and make sure there's no rust growing, and that the paint isn't flaking or chipping off. You'll also want to keep the hinges and cams greased properly to keep the doors opening and closing smoothly.

Buying a shipping container, new or used, is a great investment and it will provide a long term, very durable structure, no matter if it's converted into a container house, storage unit, or job site office. While shipping containers are big, the task of buying one doesn't have to be. If you have any questions about purchasing a shipping container anywhere in the United States, Canada, or other parts of the world, contact any of the sellers on If you have a general question you're welcome to contact our office directly and we'll be glad to assist you. is an online marketplace for new and used shipping containers. We provide wholesale marketing services for shipping lines, leasing companies and container traders, as well as a white label container trading platform for container related companies of all sizes. To learn how can help to expand your business, or simply make your business process more efficient, give us a call at 307-222-9085.

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