Once a shipping container has been modified at our facility, it needs to be shipped to the owner. Over 95 percent of our modified containers are shipped by truck. However, a few of our customers have their containers modified and then want them shipped overseas. 

It seems like a simple task. After all, these modified containers were originally shipping containers that traveled by ship overseas. This is not the case, however, because the containers have now been modified. Now, to move a container overseas, it must travel as cargo and not as a container. 


Why Modified Containers Are No Longer Considered Shipping Containers 


Shipping containers must meet strict specifications before they can be certified for use in the shipping industry. These containers must be built to withstand torrential weather and be capable of holding the weight of up to eight additional filled containers on top of it.  In addition, it must also be protecting the contents of the container.  

The exceptional durability of these containers is what has made them so attractive as building materials when they are no longer used for cargo. The strength of modified containers outperforms wood and cement as building materials. 

However, modified containers can no longer be classified as containers, regardless of the durability of the structure. 


Why Are They Classified As Cargo Now When They Are Still Essentially A Container?


Many of the outside modifications that are made to a container will be what changes their classification to cargo. Anything that protrudes from the exterior, such as an air conditioning unit, doorknobs, skylights, or similar items, change how the container can be stacked when it is placed on a ship. 

Containers are packed, on average, nine high.  They are placed as close together as possible when the ship is being loaded. Things sticking out from the container can cause a lot of space to be wasted. Because of this, the ship will require that the container rides as cargo so that space is not a concern. 

If your modified shipping container does not have any changes or protrusions to the outside, you may be able to send it as a shipping container. However, to do this, you will first have to have it reclassified as a cargo container. You must contact the Approved Continuous Examination Program (ACEP) to have the container recertified. With that certification, you should be able to ship the container as cargo with the captain’s approval.