The International Register of Container Owner Codes

The international register of identification codes for container owners was originated by the Bureau International des Containers (BIC) and has been published continually since 1970. It was subsequently adopted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1972, forming an essential part of the ISO 6346 standard : « Freight Containers – Coding, Identification and Marking ». This standard also describes technical markings such as size and type code, country code and various operational marks.

Only ISO Alpha-codes (container prefixes) for identification of container owners registered with the BIC may be used as unique identity marking of containers in all international transport and customs declaration documents.

What is a BIC / Container Code?

It comprises of

  • An owner/operator code of 3 letters;
  • A fourth letter used as equiment identifier (1);
  • A serial number of 6 Arabic numerals (2);
  • A seventh digit (check digit) providing a means of validating the recording and/or transmission accuracy of the data.

Example (theoretical- for a container): BICU 123456 5 It guarantees that the identification of the container is unique.

It Permits

  1. The identification of the owner or principal operator;
  2. The identification of the unit by its owner or operator as reference number for its data base (dimensions, type, year of putting into operation, date of control, of maintenance, etc..).

It Facilitates

  1. The international circulation and temporary admission for customs purpose;
  2. The control of containers, manually or automatically by computerised and/or remote control systems at any stage of the transportation chain and especially in intermodal transport.