This is a gray shipping container sitting on a flat bed trailer showing the container numbers on the rear of the unit on the upper half of the door.

Keeping Track of Your Shipping Container

In the shipping world, shipping containers AKA Conex boxes, must have a unique registration number to keep track of them. This is a unique number made up of letters and numbers and provides crucial information to get shipping containers to their proper destination.

Shipping Container Tracking

In 1970 a reliable alphanumeric system for marking containers was created. It’s called the BIC code (Bureau International des Containers). There is a four-letter prefix. The first three letters designate the owner of the container and the fourth letter is always a “U” identifying the unit as a container. These letters are then followed by a six-digit suffix. The number is designated by the owner. At the end of the registration number is a singe check digit. The check digit is in place to pick up any errors that may be caused by the incorrect transcription of the registration number. If you have a wrong check digit, then you have an invalid container number. If you have an invalid customer number, then it is impossible to trace through the sea freight shipping process.

Shipping Container Process

The reason why shipping container tracking is crucial is because there is a lot of uncertainty with the actual shipping process. There are many parties involved. The first party is the company filling the shipment orders. The second party is the person or company hauling the container. The third party is known as the logistic-provider, or the person who coordinates the goods on behalf of the first party. The fourth party is an independent body that is assisting the first party to organize their supply of goods across multiple third-party logistic providers.

A liner or cargo ship is generally liable for lost or stolen containers, so a container tracking system provides valuable information when or if something goes wrong.

shipping container number on door