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. 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:

(1) Maintain the highest level of safety in transportation and logistics

(2) 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 worldwide.

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. Fastened at the time of manufacture, each plate must contain a certain level of information, either in English or French. 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 inspections explained

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 first examination shell be in < 5 years and then at intervals < 30 months. The standards that apply for safety examinations are those agreed upon between the administration of the contracting party and the container owner/operator at the time of the assignment of the ACEP approval. 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. ACEP is currently used by most container owners and operators for the following reasons:

(1) More consistent examinations due to established examination procedure

(2) 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

(3)  No need to update CSC plates

Why are container safety standards important?

 A CSC plate is only valid if the container is in a good condition! If damaged during service or no longer safe to use, an owner has to react according to it. 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 and it should also be checked that a container is packed properly.