Finding Shipping Containers on Sale – 7 Things You Should Know Before You Buy a Cargo Container Online

Thanks to the internet and good marketing, you can buy nearly anything online, including shipping containers. The recent trend of shipping containers being used for other purposes besides freight services has opened up a new market for shipping containers. These containers have found several other uses outside the docks, these uses include as storage units, apartment complexes, restaurants, office complexes, studios, and many more. This new trend has led many eager buyers into the market for shipping containers. A lot of people who want to buy shipping containers quickly go online to find the best prices and place orders.

7 Things You Should Know Before You Buy A Cargo Container Online

But wanting to buy a cargo container is one thing, knowing how to go about it is another. And just going online to order for a shipping container without proper information will most likely end in disaster. There are online companies all over the place offering “the best prices” for these containers that won’t bother to furnish you with the information you need. Cargo containers are not toy boxes; they are big, very heavy, reinforced steel boxes. Buying and transporting them requires a good deal of planning.

In this post, you will find out the things you need to know before buying a shipping container online. If you have bought a shipping container before now without any problems, you probably do not need to read any further. However, if this is your first-time kindly pay attention to every point outlined in this post, it will save you a lot of trouble in the future. The first thing you need to know when buying a shipping container is:

  1. The Size of Container You Need

It is easy to get distracted by good marketing and forget what you really need. In the end you might end up with a container that is far bigger or smaller than what you actually need. Shipping containers come in different sizes which include 20’, 40’, 45’, 48’, and 53’, with the most commonly used sizes being 20’ and 40’. Take a measuring tape and mark out 20 feet to know literally what 20 feet looks like on ground (we’d talk about how much space you need for each container size in a bit). The size of shipping container you choose should be determined by what you need it for and the space you have available. Go here to find shipping container specifications.

  1. Permits or Licenses

Cargo containers are really heavy items, and like skips they may require a license or a permit before they can be used inland. This may vary from state to state or country to country, but it is important for you to do proper findings before purchasing one. You would not want to buy a container, have it delivered to you, only to find out that you won’t be allowed to use it because you have no permit. Visit your local council and find out if you need a permit to use a container on your property and what sizes are allowed. The permit would most likely attract a fee for its procurement. Shipping container suppliers are usually conversant with local regulations for the use of containers. Make enquiries from them before placing your order.

cargo container


  1. Total Cost of Buying the Container

This is an important factor to consider when buying a shipping container online. Most price listings you find online do not include other charges such as delivery. This can throw you off balance if you made your budget based solely on the price displayed on the company’s website. Be sure to ask about other charges that may be included in the transaction. This is because some companies only show you the cost for the container alone without delivery fee.

  1. The Delivery Fee

You may find a good bargain for a shipping container and get completely turned off at the delivery cost. This is why it is important to find out from the shipping container supplier about their delivery fees. Generally, delivery fees increase with increase in distance between the shipping container supplier’s location and your property. Some companies charge by the mile, like $20 per mile. While a few others may have a stipulated rate for deliveries within a certain mile radius and add extra charges for properties beyond that radius. If the company finds it difficult to gain access into your property using a regular flatbed truck, you may be asked to pay more for delivery. Discuss this aspect extensively with the company so as to be clear about what would be required.

Crane truck loading container

  1. Delivery Time

A regular shipping container delivery can take anywhere between three days and one week. The speed in delivery is not universal; some companies might take a longer time to deliver than others. Delivery time could also be affected by logistics required to get the container to your property. If you are not in a hurry, then you can just sit back and allow the company to make the delivery. However, if you need it delivered to you urgently then you should expect to pay more for express delivery. Be sure you have a solid agreement in place for express delivery before you initiate the process.

  1. Adequate Space for Delivery

Every container size requires a specified amount of space to make its delivery and installation easy and efficient. For the commonly used sizes, which are 20’ and 40’, you would need 75 feet of straight clearance and 100 feet of clearance, respectively. You would also require an overhead clearance of 20 feet in addition to at least 12 feet of width clearance for all traditional shipping containers.


  1. Site Preparation

A traditional house would need a foundation made out of concrete before they can be built. Shipping containers, on the other hand, do not require such elaborate preparations but they do need some. Most suppliers will inform you about what you need to do to prepare you property to receive the container. Some information they would require from you before they proceed are:

  • Would the container be used for a long time or a short time?
  • Can a flatbed truck enter your property easily?
  • Is your property susceptible to flooding?
  • Do you have a level ground and a firm soil on your property?
  • Do you have a flat, concrete (or otherwise) surface where you’d like the container to be placed?

It is important to provide a solid platform for the container if your property does not have a firm soil. This would prevent sliding or sinking by equally distributing the load. Also using concrete pad helps to keep the container off the ground to prevent rust. If you are going to be building a container home, then you can check this link:  https://www.discovercontainers.com/shipping-container-home-foundation-types/ to know more.


Lynne Huysamen

Mommy to a pigeon pair, blogger and online marketer. Lover of chocolate, good books and buckets of coffee.


  1. Well, there is an opportunity for using anything and everything.

    I can see why shipping containers would be used for residential and commercial use.

    At any docks here in the uk there are 100’s of them left for years.

    I remember when working for a uk wide car rental company that we had several as offices, which were freezing cold in winter and hot in the summer. I guess now there are better ways of regulating the temperature in them.

    Great article.

  2. This is a very useful article.

    One I will bookmark for future reference.

    I have recently been trying to get some good online but my reluctance is due to the whole shipping process which is filled with so much uncertainty.

    My mum once got some goods, shipped them and they arrived incomplete, doing some research on how to prevent this from happening again, we were told next time we should ship things in our container, rather than paying someone to arrange for the shipping.

    So this article is really helpful for the future, thanks.

  3. Hi Lynne,

    Thank You very much for sharing such an informative article with all the necessary information about “Finding Shipping Containers on Sale – 7 Things You Should Know Before You Buy a Cargo Container Online”

    Really this is an amazing article.I like this article very much.I have learn something new from this article.I have learned properly that we should investigate these 7 things perfectly when we are going to buy a cargo container from online.Permits or licenses and the total cost of buying a container are mostly important thing.I have gained all the thorough details of buying a cargo container after reading your article.This article is very helpful for those people who are going to buy a cargo container from online as you have put all the information so nicely.One of my brother is going to buy a cargo container from online.I will share this article with him and i believe he would be very happy to learn these 7 things.

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