ISO 6346 is an international standard which describes the identification of a shipping container. The standard is maintained by the BIC (International Container Bureau) and covers the serial number, owner, country code, and size of any given shipping container.
Example of an ISO 6346 compliant container number: CSQU3054383, where
Owner Code: The owner code in the above example is “CSQ”, which consists of three capital letters of the Latin alphabet to indicate the owner or principal operator of the container. Such code needs to be registered at the Bureau International des Conteneurs in Paris to ensure uniqueness worldwide.
Equipment Category Identifier: The equipment category identifier (“U” in this example) consists of one of the following capital letters of the Latin alphabet:
– U for all freight containers
– J for detachable freight container-related equipment
– Z for trailers and chassis
Under the ISO code, then, only U, J, and Z are in use. The reefer container is identified by means of the size type code.
Serial Number: The serial number consists of 6 numeric digits (“305438” in above example), assigned by the owner or operator, uniquely identifying the container within that owner/operator’s fleet.
Check Digit: The check digit (3 in the above example) consists of one numeric digit providing a means of validating the recording and transmission accuracies of the owner code and serial number.