Glossary of the Container World


Glossary – useful terms and acronyms from the container world


Term or Acronym Definition Additional information Link

Approved Continuous Examination Program (ACEP)

The container inspection scheme used by most major ocean carriers and container sellers to ensure safety for the container’s trip

ACEP database

American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) Classification society ABS website‎
BIC Bureau International des Containers.
Paris based organization that maintains the official registry of alpha container prefixes used to identify containers.‎
Bureau Veritas (BV) Classification society BV website
Carrier Owned Container (COC) A container owned or leased by a shipping line – new or used – to transport goods by providing both the container and the transportation service. COC is the opposite of an SOC, and will generate demurrage and detentions costs which an SOC will not.    
CW or Cargo-Worthy Certificate Certificate issued by a surveyor pursuant to an inspection confirming a container is suitable for transportation under TIT / UIC / CSC…. Example of CW certificate  
CW or Cargo-Worthy  repair criteria Repair criteria that is less stringent than the IICL standard, but under which a container still complies with ISO, CSC, etc…. and can still fill the role set out in its original specification. USCG National Container inspection program
Classification Society Organization that certifies that new containers are built in accordance with the specifications that were issued and that they meet the CSC requirements as well as other requirements set forth in the specifications. The classification society will verify specifications prior to production, attend and verify production, and witness prototype testing. Example of Classification society certificate Classification Society Certificate
Container Specification Complete description of components and assembly methods used in the production of new containers .    
Container surveyor or inspector Professionals whose function it is to evaluate containers and asses possible damages against a criteria that has be set for them  by their principal.    
COR-TEN® or CORTEN COR-TEN® is a registered trade mark of the United States Steel Corporation. Commonly referred to as CORTEN this type of steel is carbon enriched to make it stronger (than mild steel) and more resistant to corrosion.
CSC Convention for Safe Containers.
The 1972 Convention for Safe Containers to maintain a high level of safety of human life in the transport and handling of containers by providing generally acceptable test procedures and related strength requirements and to facilitate the international transport of containers by providing uniform international safety regulations.
IMO International Maritime Organization
CSC Plate Refers to the plate affixed on the door of a container which records containers serial number, technical data (MGW, tare, payload) manufacture data, owner data and date of last CSC inspection. Example of a CSC plate Container CSC Plate
Demurrage Fees charged when containers are left inside the terminal for longer than the agreed free days and applicable to all containers that remain at the terminal.    
Detention Fees charged when containers are held outside the terminal longer than the agreed free time. All units will continue to be charged daily while in the custody of the consignee until returned to the shipping line.    
DPP – DamageProtection Plan Damage protection offered by containers lessors who are not “technically” allowed to offer insurance which is a regulated market.    
EIR or Equipment Interchange Receipt Document established at the time a container arrives in or leaves from a depot that will serve to document the transfer of responsibility. While not systematic, most EIRs will record the verification of a container’s condition at the time of transfer. Example of an EIR
Equipment Interchange Receipt - EIR

Equipment Interchange Receipt – EIR

FEU Forty-foot Equivalent Unit. 2 TEU = 1 FEU Example of a 40′
40' high cube storage and shipping Containers

40’HC Containers
9’6” high

Free on Truck or FOT Generally accepted acronym (not an INCOTERM) that implies that containers are delivered on to the truck and that implies that the seller would be responsible for the cost of handling to load the container on to the truck    
Germanischer Lloyd (GL) Classification society GL website
Handling (depot) Act of loading or unloading a container onto or from a truck at a depot (normally done for a fee…).    
IICL Institute of International Container Lessors.
Washington DC based organization which groups the largest container & chassis leasing companies in the world . IICL sets repair standards, by which all repairs are carried out, for its members when containers are off hired. Criteria is also used for equipment interchanges between operators. The current edition of their directive is IICL 5.
IICL website‎
IICL repair criteria Detailed repair criteria issued by the IICL which defines clearly which repairs should be performed on in fleet containers. Criteria addresses all structural aspects as and sets stricter limits on dents or paint damage which are acceptable    
ISO International Standardization Organization.
International Organization based in Geneva that works towards harmonizing worldwide technical standards including those governing the construction of shipping containers.
ISO website
MGW (Container) The maximum weight allowable for a loaded container.    
Payload (Container) The maximum weight of cargo that can be loaded in a container (Payload = MGW – Tare)    
Prefix (container alpha prefix) Part of the identification of a container which refers to the 4 letters that proceed the 6 digit serial number and check digit Detailed information about prefixes  
RAL color coding RAL is a color matching system first established by Reichs-Ausschuß für Lieferbedingungen und Gütesicherung (German Institute for Quality Assurance and Certification) in 1927 . It is commonly used to select the color of the coating applied on shipping containers.
Shipper Owned Container (SOC) A container owned or leased by the shipper – new or used – to transport goods. With SOCs, shipping lines are contracted to provide only the transport service. SOC is by opposition to COC.    
SPA-H Superior atmospheric corrosion-resistant steel as defined by the Japan Iron and Steel Federation (JIS) Standard. Generally considered the Equivalent of COR-TEN®. JIS website‎
Survey Report Report established a by a surveyor after inspection with a view to documenting condition of the container and generally serving to establish whether the container is suitable for transportation or not. Example of a Container Survey  
Tare (Container) Weight of an empty container.    
TCT  Timber Component Treatment.
Quarantine regulations established by the Australian health ministry (AQIS = Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry). Includes detailed requirements for the treatment of container’s wooden floors to avoid the proliferation of pests. Required for the containers to be able to transit through Australia
Australian Government department of Agriculture
TEU Twenty-foot equivalent unit.
Usually refers to a Standard (although could be special) container of 20 feet in length. Commonly used to express vessel capacity or throughput at container factories and ports.
Example of a 20′
One Tripper Container Boston MA

New 20′ Shipping Container shipped from China to the USA.

TIR Transports Internationaux Routiers (International Road Transport).
An international harmonized system of Customs control that facilitates trade and transport whilst effectively protecting the revenue of each Country through which goods are carried. In order for containers to be able to transport goods under custom seal they need to meet TIR requirements.
IRU website
UCIRC Criteria Unified Container Inspection and Repair Criteria (UCIRC) is an International Chamber of Shipping guide available to be used for in-service and on/off hire inspections    
UIC Union International des Chemins de Fer (International Union of Railways).
Containers need to meet UIC requirements in order to be able to transport goods on the rail.
UIC website
WWT or Wind and Water Tight repair criteria Criteria under which containers would literally be “Wind and Water Tight”. This commonly used criteria makes no reference to the quality of understructure of the container and should therefore not be considered as safe for the transport of cargo unless it was explicitly confirmed that containers meet the CSC.