How Much For A Used Shipping Container: The Ultimate Guide To Pricing

How Much For A Used Shipping Container

Shipping containers have emerged as versatile solutions in various industries, from construction and architecture to retail and housing. As the demand for these adaptable structures continues to grow, many individuals and businesses are considering the cost-effective option of purchasing used shipping containers. However, determining the price of a used shipping container can be a complex task, influenced by various factors that affect its value. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the key considerations when assessing the cost of a used shipping container. Whether you are an entrepreneur seeking additional storage space or a visionary architect exploring sustainable building materials, understanding the factors that impact pricing will empower you to make informed decisions. So, let’s explore the world of used shipping containers and unravel the mysteries of their pricing structure.

How Much For A Used Shipping Container?

The cost of a used shipping container can vary depending on several factors. These factors include the container’s condition, age, size, and type. Additionally, the pricing can be influenced by the local market, the seller, and any modifications or customization made to the container. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars for a used shipping container. It’s essential to thoroughly research and compare prices from different sources such as local dealers, online marketplaces, and auctions to ensure a fair price. Additionally, consider additional costs like delivery, modifications, insurance, and permits when budgeting for your used shipping container purchase.

The Cost Of Used Shipping Containers For Potential Buyers

The cost of used shipping containers for potential buyers can vary depending on several factors. These factors include the container’s condition, age, size, and type.

Condition: Used shipping containers are often graded based on their condition, ranging from IICL (International Institute of Container Lessors) to CW (Cargo Worthy) and WWT (Wind and Water Tight). Containers in better condition generally command higher prices, as they require less repair work.

Age: The age of a used shipping container can influence its price. Newer containers are typically more expensive, while older ones are more affordable. However, older containers may require more maintenance and repairs, which should be factored into the overall cost.

Size and Type: The size and type of the container also impact its price. Standard sizes, such as 20-foot and 40-foot containers, are generally more readily available and thus more affordable. High cube containers (taller than standard), refrigerated containers, and specialized containers may be priced higher due to their unique features.

Local Market: The local market conditions play a role in determining the cost of used shipping containers. Prices may vary based on supply and demand in a particular region or city. Researching the local market and comparing prices from different sellers is crucial to ensure you get a fair deal.

Additional Costs: It’s essential to consider additional costs when budgeting for a used shipping container purchase. These costs may include delivery and transportation fees, modifications or customization expenses, insurance, and permits for specific uses or locations.

Pricing Options For Used Shipping Containers

There are several pricing options available for purchasing used shipping containers. Here are some common avenues to consider:

Local Dealers and Suppliers: 

Local dealers and suppliers specializing in shipping containers often have a selection of used containers available for purchase. They can provide valuable insights, guidance, and support throughout the buying process. Prices from local dealers may vary based on factors like the condition, age, size, and type of containers they have in stock. It’s advisable to research and reach out to multiple dealers to compare prices and negotiate a fair deal.

Online Marketplaces and Classified Ads: 

Online platforms and classified ads offer a convenient way to explore a wide range of used shipping containers. Websites like eBay, Craigslist, and specialized container marketplaces provide listings from sellers across different locations. These platforms allow you to filter search results based on specific criteria such as size, condition, and price range. However, it’s essential to exercise caution when purchasing online and thoroughly evaluate sellers’ reputations and reviews to ensure a trustworthy transaction.

Auctions and Liquidation Sales: 

Auctions and liquidation sales can be an opportunity to find used shipping containers at lower prices. These events may occur locally or online and often involve containers that have been retired from active service or are in surplus inventory. Participating in auctions requires careful research and preparation, including understanding the bidding process, inspecting containers beforehand, and setting a budget. While auctions can offer competitive pricing, there may be additional costs involved, such as buyer’s premiums or transportation fees.

Container Depots and Port Authorities: 

Container depots and port authorities can be another source for used shipping containers. These entities handle the storage and maintenance of containers and may occasionally sell used units that are no longer needed. Prices from depots and port authorities can vary, so it’s recommended to inquire about availability and pricing directly with these entities.

Container Resellers and Brokers: 

Container resellers and brokers specialize in connecting buyers with sellers of used shipping containers. They typically have access to a network of suppliers and can assist in finding containers that meet specific requirements. While working with a reseller or broker may incur additional fees, their expertise and industry connections can streamline the purchasing process and help negotiate favorable pricing.

Additional costs and considerations

Shipping containers are large and heavy, requiring specialized equipment and transportation for delivery to your desired location. The delivery cost can vary based on the distance, accessibility of the delivery site, and the prevailing rates of logistics providers. It’s advisable to obtain quotes from different transport companies and factor in this cost when budgeting.

Depending on your intended use, you might need to modify or customize the used shipping container. This can involve adding doors, windows, ventilation, insulation, electrical wiring, or plumbing. The cost of modifications will depend on the complexity of the changes and the extent of customization desired. It’s essential to consider these expenses when evaluating the total cost of the container.

Insuring your used shipping container is a wise decision to protect your investment. Insurance coverage protects against theft, damage during transit, natural disasters, and other unforeseen events. Insurance costs will depend on factors such as the value of the container, location, and coverage options. It’s recommended to consult with insurance providers experienced in container coverage to obtain appropriate insurance for your specific needs.

Depending on your intended use and location, you may need to obtain permits or ensure compliance with local regulations. Specific uses, such as converting a container into a dwelling or using it for commercial purposes, may require permits and adherence to specific building codes. Research the legal requirements in your area and consider any associated costs or timeframes for obtaining permits.

Used shipping containers may require maintenance or repairs, especially if they have been in service for an extended period. While containers are designed to be durable, factors such as rust, dents, or damaged flooring may need attention. Assess the condition of the container and account for potential maintenance or repair costs in your budget.

Before delivery, ensure that you have a suitable location for the container and that the site is accessible for delivery trucks and equipment. Site preparation may involve clearing the area, leveling the ground, and creating a foundation or platform for the container. These preparations can add to the overall cost of acquiring and installing the container.

Final Words

Purchasing a used shipping container involves considering various factors that influence its price. Factors such as condition, age, size, and type determine the cost. Exploring pricing options, including local dealers, online marketplaces, and auctions, allows for comparison and finding the best deal. However, it’s important to remember that additional costs, such as delivery, modifications, insurance, permits, and ongoing maintenance, should be considered when budgeting for a used container. By conducting thorough research, evaluating the total expenses, and considering all relevant factors, potential buyers can make informed decisions and find a used shipping container that meets their needs while staying within their budget.


Q: Are used shipping containers safe to use?

A: Yes, used shipping containers can be safe to use. However, it depends on their condition and any necessary repairs or modifications. It’s essential to inspect the container thoroughly before purchase to ensure it meets your safety requirements.

Q: Can I customize a used shipping container?

A: Yes, used shipping containers can be customized to suit various purposes. They can be modified with doors, windows, insulation, electrical wiring, plumbing, and more. The extent of customization will depend on your specific needs and budget.

Q: How long can a used shipping container last?

A: With proper maintenance, used shipping containers can last for several decades. The container’s durability depends on factors such as its initial quality, usage conditions, and the level of maintenance it receives.