The ISO 6346:1995 international standard defines:
ISO 6346 establishes a visual identification system for every shipping container that includes an owner code, equipment category identifier, serial number and check digit.
It is this unique 11 digit shipping container number which is required for container tracking.
Known as "ISO shipping containers", compliant containers are today manufactured according to internationally recognised standards. This means that they can be handled, transported and tracked with ease and efficiency.
Containers that do not follow the ISO 6346 standard are generally transport provider owned containers. The absence of a compliant identification code can cause problems for both other transport providers and container terminals to correctly identify the equipment and properly deliver the cargo.
The owner code consists of three Latin letter characters that identify the owner or principal operator of the container.
There are 3 possible equipment category identifiers:
The serial number consists of 6 numeric digits, assigned by the owner or operator, uniquely identifying the container.
The size and type code is comprised of the following elements: