Every container used for international transport needs a valid CSC plate to ensure a good condition for safety reasons. When Malcom McLean invented the standardized cargo container, there was nothing to regulate the safety of container logistics. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) undertook a study to find about more about the safety of containerization as the number of containers increased over the years. The container itself emerged as the most important safety reason for humans working around it which led to the foundation of the Convention for Safe Containers (CSC) by the United Nations and the IMO in 1972 with two main goals to maintain the highest level of safety in transportation and logistics and facilitate international container transport by providing standards. Nowadays every container used for international cargo transport must have a valid CSC approval. Doesn’t matter if COC or SOC Container, it would not be able to move the equipment for international maritime transport without a valid CSC plate.

Containers with a CSC Plate


What information is on a CSC plate?

Every shipping container used for international maritime transport must have a valid CSC plate bolted to the outside of the left door. It shall take the form of a permanent, non-corrosive, fireproof rectangular plate measuring at least 20x10cm. Fastened at the time of manufacture, each plate must contain a certain level of information (see graphics below), either in English or French and it shall be durable in a colour contrasting with the one of the containers. The words “CSC SAFETY APPROVAL” are prominently placed in the middle of every plate alongside the country of approval and reference number. Additional information includes:

this is how a csc plate in shipping looks like

Infographic is a courtesy of the BIC – Bureau International des Containers


Csc plate inspections: PES and ACEP

An inspection process includes testing, maintenance and the inspection itself in accordance with CSC regulations. It is mandatory for manufactured containers to get an approval plate. Regulations state that containers have to be inspected at intervals appropriate to operating conditions.

The standards that apply for safety examinations are those agreed upon between the administration of the contracting party and the container owner/operator. There are two container inspection schemes that can be applied for CSC plate inspections: the Periodic Examination Scheme (PES) and ACEP which stands for Approved Continuous Examination Scheme. The APEC scheme is more common in practice but both examination schemes ensure that containers are maintained at the required level of safety and may, therefore, be considered as equal.

csc plate inspection at empty container depot

Periodic Examination Scheme (PES) is the original approach that is currently generally used by small operators and requires the display of the “next examination date” or “NED” on the CSC plate. The first examination shall be in < 5 years and then at intervals < 30 months.

Containers operated under ACEP must be properly and regularly inspected as part of their regular operation and at a very minimum, within the intervals required under PES. ACEP is currently used by most container owners and operators because of the following reasons:

  • More consistent examinations due to established examination procedure
  • Better condition of containers in service, because ACEP examinations are not triggered by a schedule, so minor damage will not accrue to the container during the 30 months between examinations compared to PES
  • No need to update CSC plates

Why are container safety standards important?

A CSC plate is only valid if the container is in good condition! If damaged during service or no longer safe to use, an owner has to react accordingly. Any authorized agent can take a container out of service if damaged. Should your container cause damage or injury it’s the owner’s obligation to prove that every precaution to prevent such damage has been taken. To avoid such cases it is recommended to inspect your containers by a surveyor before and after a shipment.