contenedores marítimos

ISO standards are a set of internationally recognised standards that were established to help companies to achieve uniform levels of management, service provision and product development in industry. They are created by the International Organisation for Standardisation. This organisation was established in 1947 by 25 countries in London, but is now based in Geneva and has 165 member countries. Today, there are more than 22,000 standards covering all industrial sectors. 

The benefits of ISO standards:

  • They improve processes and increase productivity.
  • Improve brand recognition and company reputation. 
  • Ensures international best practice. 
  • Provides access to public tenders that require compliance with ISO standards. 
  • Helps protect the environment. 
  • Facilitates collaboration and trade between certified companies.

ISO standards for sea containers 

Container identification

Maritime containers transport practically any type of goods, which is why it is important that they are regulated by ISO standards, since, thanks to them, they have strict standards and protocols that guarantee their safety at an international level. 

In order for a sea container to operate internationally, it must be registered with the Bureau of International Containers (BIC) and bear a mark that identifies it.

The dimensions, width and height of a sea container are identified by two alphanumeric characters and the owner’s code, which are four letters and a unique code associated with the BIC.

Authorised dimensions

The external dimensions of the container must comply with the established standards.

Dry Van (20′ and 40′)

Are the most commonly used in sea and land transport. Their mandatory dimensions are: 6.10 metres long x 2.44 metres wide x 2.59 metres high. 

bullbox contenedor maritimo 40 - ISO standards for sea containers

High Cube (20′ and 40′)

These containers have an extra height. They reach a height of 2.89 metres which means 13% more capacity. 

40hc 04 - ISO standards for sea containers

Open Side (20′ and 40′)

Are characterised by doors on the right-hand side.

20os 01 - ISO standards for sea containers
Contenedor marítimo 20′Open side

Open Top (20′ and 40′)

Open at the top and covered by a tarpaulin.

1 1 - ISO standards for sea containers
contenedor marítimo 40′ Open Top

Flat Rack

Has no side walls and no roof. It is used for special or heavy goods.

Flat rack container 1024x549 - ISO standards for sea containers


This is the only container equipped with a refrigeration machine for goods that require a constant temperature.

reefers7 500x350 - ISO standards for sea containers

Pallet Wide (40′ and 45′)

Are slightly wider for the transport of pallets.

45 pallet wide - ISO standards for sea containers

Some of the most important international (ISO) standards are:


Is the standard that provides information on the characteristics and types of shipping containers. 


Is the standard that regulates the measurements, size and shape of sea containers for national and international transport. 


Standard is responsible for regulating encryption and coding systems for the goods being transported, establishing a series of mandatory values and labels.


Standard is the statute that regulatesthe techniques for the classification and removal of seals or security seals from all types of containers in trade.

Other regulations 

In addition to the ISO regulations, the 1972 Customs Convention on Containers came into force in 1975 and is supervised by the World Customs Organisation (WCO). This convention considers containers as instruments of international traffic and establishes the framework for containers to be used in international transport.

The 1972 Convention for Safe Containers controlled by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has two objectives. The first is to maintain a high level of safety in the transport and handling of containers. The second objective is to facilitate the international carriage of containers by providing uniform international safety rules.