How to Buy a Shipping Container 

Do you know how to buy a shipping container online? The process can be confusing and you might not know where to start. Read to learn the process of how to buy a shipping container online.

Nina Barango
Jan 19, 2023
10 mins
The exterior of a luxury shipping container home.
Table of Contents

So, you want to buy a shipping container, but you’re not sure how to buy one. The process can be confusing and sometimes you don’t even know where to start. It may seem unlikely but the easiest place is online. You can chat with experts about your needs, determine the best option for delivery, and ultimately find the container (or containers) to suit your project – all without having to leave your house.

Read ahead to learn the step-by-step process of how to buy a shipping container online. 

How to Buy a Shipping Container Online

Find the Right Size

The most common standard shipping container sizes are: 20ft shipping containers and 40ft shipping containers. Consider what you’re using the container for and what size you’ll need for your use case.

When it comes to storage and transportation, 20ft shipping containers are used to carry small amounts of heavy goods. So, if you need to store or transport bags of cement, this could be the best container for the job. This container size is also useful for buyers that want to build shipping container homes. The dimensions of this structure make for a cozy tiny house (a house with dimensions between 100 and 400 square feet).

When it comes to storage and transportation, a 40ft shipping container is primarily used for holding large volumes of lighter cargo. So, if you have a lot of boxes full of clothing, you could rely on this container size. As for housing, a 40-foot container is the most popular choice for a container home as it provides 320 square feet, whereas a 20-foot container only provides about 160 square feet. 

Both 20ft and 40ft containers are available in two different heights. The standard height is 8.6 feet. If you want a taller container, you can pick a high-cube version. A high-cube container stands at 9.6 feet. 

Once you’ve determined what container size suits your needs, you can consider the container grade.

Choose the Container Grade

Another important step in how to buy shipping containers is choosing the container grade. The container grade indicates the condition that the shipping container is in and will influence what you can use the container for. 

You will find three grade categories: one-trip, cargo-worthy, and wind and watertight.

One-trip or "New" Containers

One-trip-grade containers are practically brand-new. These are containers that have only been used once to ship cargo to the United States. Since they are as new as possible, they will have minimal wear and tear. One-trip grade containers are ideal for anyone who wants to convert shipping containers into a container home or business. 

Cargo-Worthy Containers

Cargo-worthy containers are not brand-new containers, but are still in good condition and remain certified to ship cargo. If you need a container that won’t be highly visible or need to look pristine, this could be the ideal grade to use (especially since it is less expensive than a one-trip grade container). 

Wind and Watertight Containers

Wind and watertight containers are considered “retired” from the shipping world. As the name suggests, they’ve accumulated noticeable wear and tear. They are still structurally sound and functional: they have intact floors, their doors seal properly and they keep wind and rainwater from reaching the interior. 

Wind and watertight containers shouldn’t be used to ship cargo and they shouldn’t be used as the base structure for any container housing. They are excellent options for storage units.

Determine Local Inventory

Depending on where you live, inventory for certain shipping containers will vary based on size and grade. Instead of calling each depot in your area, online marketplaces such as Boxhub will compile the best option for you based on your zip code. 

Which Shipping Container is Best For Me?
Take this quick four-question quiz to find out.
Take the Quiz

Get Assistance

What if you’re not sure about the container size or grade? If you can’t seem to figure out how to buy the right shipping containers, you can discuss your options with a container expert at Boxhub or consult some of the shipping container resources we have available. If you require help finding a specific container or purchasing multiple shipping containers, our experts are happy to help.

Arrange Your Delivery

One of the biggest benefits of using Boxhub’s online platform is that you are not responsible for picking up the container, although you can pick up the container from the depot if you choose. After making your purchase, our logistics team will handle it. A truck will bring your container and offload it for you. 

Inspect Your Container

When your shipping container is delivered, your delivery driver will run you through a quick inspection of the container to guarantee that it meets your expectations. Give the container a once-over. Look for holes in the floor and tears in the walls, and open and close the doors to ensure they seal correctly.   

Buying a shipping container doesn’t have to be complicated, in fact, we often say that buying a shipping container should be as easy as buying a pair of shoes. By following these simple steps and asking questions when you need help, it’s never been easier to find the exact container you’re looking for. If you’re ready to shop, get started just by typing in your zip code here

About Nina Barango

Nina Barango is an experienced content marketer and container expert with a proven track record in the tech and logistics industry. Having worked with various startups and SMEs, she bridges the world of marketing, tech and shipping containers. When she's not creating content that'll revolutionize global container trade, you can find Nina reading a book or mastering her video editing skills.

Related Resources & Articles
Learn more about shipping containers - and how others are using them - with our container guides & resources.
Buying a Shipping Container
What to Consider When Buying A Ship...
Whether you’re moving across the country or relocating a few minutes away, a moving shipping container can be incredibly beneficial.
Learn More
Buying a Shipping Container
Buying a Shipping Container Online
Thinking of buying a shipping container online? Here are our customers' top tips for securing a great new or used shipping container online.
Learn More
Buying a Shipping Container
Boxhub x Alternative Living Spaces: Ev..
Buying a shipping container? Get tips on choosing, sourcing, and delivery for a hassle-free experience.
Learn More
Ready to buy a container?
Get personalized buying support from a shipping container specialist.
Buy NowFor Businesses