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There is a saying that goes, “What is not named, does not exist.” This year ISO type codes amendment include new codes for different types of foldable containers, recognizing their ‘own place’ among the supply chain.


The yearly publication of Bureau International des Containers et du Transport Intermodal (BIC), BIC CODE REGISTER, came with interesting information this 2022: details on ISO 6346 amendment 3, about type code designation.

The following article includes some of the published details related to foldable containers. The full article can be read in nº52/2022, p7-10, ISSN 1013-3615.


What is ISO type code?

The international Organization for Standarization (ISO) is an independent, non-governmental international organization with a membership of 167 national standards bodies. Through its members, it brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market relevant International Standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.

The full text of ISO international standards can be obtained through the national member bodies of ISO.

International Standard ISO 6346, ‘Coding, identification and marking of containers’ is the one that establishes a coding and marking rules for freight containers, including an identification system, a country code, a size and type code, and operational marks.

The identification system aims to have a uniform and international way of identifying a every container in all the communication and documents involved in container transportation. In Figure 1 , the identification for the Zbox collapsible container on the right is:

  • ZBX (owned by Navlandis)
  • U (freight container)
  • 000014 (serial number)
  • 5 (check digit, used to validate the accuracy of the transmission of the owner code and the serial number)

Figure 1. Zbox containers.

The size and type code has two alphanumeric characters used to designate the size of the container, one for its length, one for its height. And two letters to indicate the type of container according to its characteristics, such as openings, ventilation, side of discharge…

When unfolded, Zbox 20ft containers are just like general purpose 20ft containers, so they were type coded ‘22G1’ (Figure 1):

  • 2 (container length 20ft; 6058mm)
  • 2 (container height 2438mm)
  • G1 (General purpose container, without ventilation, with passive vents at upper part of cargo space).

But, what happens with this code when there is a folded Zbox or a bundle of five folded Zbox?

The code 22G1 is no longer valid, as it does not represent either the container or the bundle.

Up to the moment, as there was no specific code for foldable containers, Zbox containers have travelled with the 22G1 code when unfolded, and with a different coding when folded (Figure 2):

Figure 2. Zbox different codes when folded.

P3 classification stands for ‘Folding complete end structure’, used also for the flat racks, Figure 3.

Figure 3. Bundle of four folded Zbox (left). Bundle of four flat-racks (right).

2022 Novelty: appearance of a code for foldable containers

The third amendment of ISO 6346 considers in the classification of container type and characteristics related to its type, specific coding for different foldable containers, as can be seen in Figure 4

Figure 4. Code, Type designation, Type group code, Main characteristics, and Detailed type code for foldable containers

It must be noted that a distinction has been made between the two different types of folding systems: the vertically-collapsible and the horizontally-collapsible like Zbox.


Thanks to this amendment, Zbox containers and foldable containers in general can now be type-coded more accurately, permitting the supply chain to take advantage of all their benefits, and being given a proper place in logistics.

Camila Hurtado

Coordinadora de proyectos subvencionados y de marketing en Navlandis.

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