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Container Identification - What does the data on the door mean?

About the author:

Sigurd Ehringer is a cargo securement specialist. He publishes articles in which he shares professional insights relating to trucks, containers and load securement in general.

  • VDI certified instructor for load securing

  • Book author

  • Project Manager – 8 years

  • Bundeswehr (company commander) – 12 years

  • Sales experience – 20 years

  • Consultant / educator in logistics – 15 years


Ocean containers are a common form of cargo transportation. You have most likely seen them on the road from time to time. Ever stuck behind one and wondered what all the numbers, letters and data on the rear doors mean? This information is critical to the company and staff responsible for loading the container. In this edition we will discuss what the labeling means.

Rear doors

On the upper left door, you may sometimes see the logo or name and website of the container owner. This information is not mandatory. The right-hand side is far more important. All information on the right side is mandatory.


Container Number

Located at the top right corner is a unique container number to identify each container. In the example above this number is HJC U 192271 3. This 10-digit letter/number code is also seen on all the other sides of the container.

The first letter combination represents the owner code. In this case the "HJCU“, letters HJC represent the Hanjin company, while the letter "U"(the product group key) refers to freight container and will be seen on all combinations.

The 6-digit registration number "192 271" is the identification code. This number is always 6 digits. The off-set number 3 is the check digit, which is used to check the integrity of the data. Data processing systems have an algorithm that will check the information "HJC U 192271“, for authenticity. The result of this check will be the digit 3. Always be sure to write the full container number including the off-set check digit on all documentation pertaining to the container.


Type designation

Below the identification number is the type designation. In the above example the type designation is 45G1.

The type designation is regulated in ISO 6346 and is made up of 3 elements. The first two numbers represent the length and height of the container. The letter/number combination represents the intended use of the container.

The G1 designation represents a container with passive ventilation. However, these ventilation openings, which are found under the upper longitudinal frame, primarily exist for pressure equalization. The internal temperature of the container can rise sharply when exposed to sunlight, causing the air to expand. The pressure equalization openings allow for this excess air to escape. The functionality of these ventilation openings should be tested during the container check.



The data in the mid-section of the right container door is related to the weight of the container and the goods. The weight is shown in pounds (1LB/LBS=0.454 kg) and kilogram (KG).

The maximum weight (MAXGROSS or MAX.GR) of the container is 32,500kg or 71,650LB.

The Tare (TARE) of 3,930kg, or 8,660lbs, represents the empty weight of the container. This weight is added to the net weight to determine the verified gross weight (VGM). Details of the verified gross weight (VGM) will be described in one of the next editions.

Below the TARE is the (PAYLOAD or NET WEIGHT) and volume or cubic capacity (CUBE or CU.CAP). The container is designed for a maximum payload of 28,570kg and has a volume of 76.4m3. When loading the container, however, it must be taken into account that for road transport the total weight of the transport unit may not exceed local restrictions. Thus, depending on the tare weight of the transport unit (tractor + chassis + tare of the container), less weight may be loaded than the specification on the container door.


CSC badge or Classification Society Label

This label is usually found in the lower third of the left or sometimes the right container door. This label must be present when the container is used for ocean transport. Without this label, the container may not be loaded for ocean transportion.

It provides an indication as to whether the container is damage-free and has been inspected in accordance with CSC (Convention for Safe Containers) and is suitable and approved for ocean transport. This label includes the date of commissioning of the container (DATE MANUFACTURED) as indicated in the example above as 7/2006.

The initial inspection will be after 5 years. Each subsequent test is reduced to a maximum of 30 months. If inspections have not been completed, the container should not be loaded.

This CSC inspection can be performed under the ACEP rule (Approved Continuous Examination Program). This means that the owner ensures that the inspection is completed every 30 months. The registration number for this inspection is indicated by the letter/number code I/RI 99/CS/118/TO.

Thank you for reading! We hope you found this information to be useful and look forward to sharing more information in the next edition.

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