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Buying a shipping container in the UK

  • December 18, 2020
shipping containers for sale

Looking to buy a shipping container?

Whether you intend to use it for transportation or storage purposes, there are certain steps that you should take to ensure you get the best possible container – for the best possible price. And as UK leading specialists in this area, here we offer a few top tips to set you on the right track.


3 tips to help you buy a suitable shipping container

1. Establish the ideal container for you

First things first, think about how you wish to use your new shipping container. Ask yourself, what features are necessary to meet your needs? This should make the selection process a lot easier.

Grade – shipping containers vary in terms of their condition and are graded depending upon their previous use. Ultimately, the right grade for you will depend on how you wish to use the container. Whilst ‘new’ and ‘one-way’ shippers have very little damage, making them an ideal option for transportation, ‘used’ and ‘end of life’ shippers are more suitable for storage applications.

Size – most shipping containers come in a standard size, measuring 8ft in width, 8.5ft in height and either 20ft or 40ft in length. Are these sizes suitable for your needs? If not, some suppliers (i.e. Gap Containers) can make a new container bespoke-to-order to match your exact requirements.

Livery – how would you like your shipping container to look? Some are supplied in one colour,  whilst others may be adorned with a company’s logo or livery. If you plan to repaint the container, this isn’t an issue. But if you don’t, you’ll need to choose a colour and design that you’re happy with.

Extras – will your shipping container need any extra features? For example, will it need to be refrigerated? Or fitted with an electricity supply? At this stage, it’s also important to consider any modifications that you require, such as extra doors, windows, ventilation systems, security locks etc.


2. Find a shipping container supplier

Once you’ve established exactly what you’re looking for, the next step is to find a reputable supplier. Search online for ‘shipping containers for sale’ and you’ll find thousands of companies, up and down the country, who offer this service. And it’s important to select the right one for your needs.

Location – due to their size and weight, shipping containers can be difficult (and expensive!) to transport from one location to another. As such, it’s often worth choosing a local supplier, who can provide a convenient and super-fast delivery to your premises – for a reasonable cost.

Services – whilst most suppliers are willing to sell directly to a private buyer, others prefer not to deal with ‘small orders’ (e.g. one or two containers). So, do your research. Browse their website carefully and, if you’re unsure on the services they provide, give them a call to find out more.

Price – shipping containers can vary greatly in terms of their price. To ensure you’re getting a good deal, make a list of 2-3 suppliers in your area and request a quote from each (including their delivery charges). That way, you can compare their offers and select the one that best fits your budget.


3. Inspect the container before buying

Ask to see the shipping container before you make your purchase. In some cases, this may not be possible. But if not, perhaps your supplier could provide photographs instead?

There are several things that, ideally, you should check:

Working mechanisms – these include the doors, locks, hinges, gasket seals, roof and lower sidewall.  Do they all close properly? Used containers tend to have some level of wear and tear, but to ensure the container meets your requirements, these features all need to be in full working order.

Condition – check the overall condition of the container. Can you see any dents, damage, patches or rust? Are the original plywood floorboards still intact? Does the interior have a distinctive odour?

Wind- and water-resistance – step inside the container and shut the door behind you. Can you see any light? If so, there could be a hole. Shipping containers are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions and, at the very least, they should be wind-resistant and watertight.

Shipping containers for sale at Gap Containers

Buying a shipping container – that is both high-quality and affordable – doesn’t have to be difficult. Just follow our step-by-step guide. And keep in mind, if you’d like any further help or guidance, you’re always welcome to get in touch with our experts here at Gap Containers.

As a leading UK supplier, not only do we have excellent knowledge in this area, we have a diverse range of shipping containers for sale – with something to suit all requirements. We can advise on the best type and size of container for you, or design and create a high-quality container to match your specific needs, and deliver it to any location across the UK. All for a competitive price.

To speak to one of our experts, either give us a call 0870 240 9405 or send an email to and we’ll respond to your enquiry as soon as possible.


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