Shipping Containers For Sale In UK

Are There Used Shipping Containers For Sale In UK?


In recent years, the trend of repurposing shipping containers has gained significant momentum. From stylish homes to practical office spaces, shipping containers offer versatile solutions for various needs.

The unique blend of durability, modularity, and cost-effectiveness has made these steel boxes a popular choice among architects, entrepreneurs, and DIY enthusiasts.

This article explores the availability, market dynamics, and key considerations for purchasing used shipping containers in the UK, providing a comprehensive guide for potential buyers.

Overview of the Shipping Container Market in the UK

History and Evolution

Shipping containers revolutionized global trade by providing a standardized and efficient method for transporting goods. Conceived in the mid-20th century, these robust steel structures enabled goods to be moved seamlessly across ships, trains, and trucks.

Initially designed solely for the shipping industry, these containers have found new life in a variety of applications beyond their original purpose. Their versatility has expanded their use into sectors such as construction, retail, and even art.

Current Market Trends

The UK has seen a surge in the demand for used shipping containers. This rise is driven by several factors including the need for affordable and flexible storage solutions, the increasing popularity of container homes, and the environmental benefits of repurposing existing materials.

Their adaptability makes them ideal for storage solutions, pop-up shops, mobile offices, and even residential buildings. The trend towards sustainable living and building practices has further fueled interest in repurposed containers, creating a robust market for used units.

Types of Used Shipping Containers

Standard Containers

Typically measuring 20 or 40 feet in length, standard containers are the most common type available. They offer a straightforward solution for many uses due to their standard dimensions and robust construction. These containers are widely used for storage, workshops, and the foundation of more complex structures.

High Cube Containers

These containers are similar to standard ones but offer an additional foot of height. This extra space is valuable for applications requiring more headroom, such as living spaces or high-volume storage. High cube containers are often preferred for conversions into homes or offices due to their enhanced spatial capacity.

Refrigerated Containers

Known as “reefers,” these containers are equipped with cooling units to maintain temperature-sensitive goods. They are ideal for businesses needing cold storage solutions, such as food distributors or pharmaceutical companies. Reefers can also be adapted for use as mobile refrigeration units at events or in remote locations.

Specialty Containers

Modified containers cater to specific needs, such as open-top containers for oversized cargo or tank containers for liquid storage. Custom modifications are also available for unique projects. These can include containers with side openings, ventilated containers for agricultural produce, and even hazardous materials containers designed for safe transport of dangerous goods.

Shipping containers for sale in the UK  have become increasingly popular due to their versatility, durability, and cost-effectiveness. These robust steel structures, initially designed for global shipping, are now repurposed for various applications, including storage units, office spaces, homes, and pop-up shops.
The UK market offers a wide range of options, from standard 20-foot and 40-foot containers to specialized high cube and refrigerated units, catering to diverse needs.
Buyers can source these containers through multiple channels, including direct sales from shipping companies, brokers, online marketplaces, local suppliers, auctions, and container depots. Each source provides unique benefits, ensuring that customers can find the right container to meet their specific requirements.
The trend towards sustainable building practices and the growing interest in modular, adaptable structures have further fueled the demand for used shipping containers in the UK.

Sources for Purchasing Used Shipping Containers in the UK

Direct Sellers

Shipping companies often sell retired containers directly. These containers are typically well-maintained and come with a guarantee of quality. Buying directly from shipping companies can offer assurance regarding the container’s history and condition.

Brokers and Resellers

Companies specializing in container sales offer a wide selection and can assist with finding the right container for your needs. They may also provide additional services like delivery and customization. Resellers often have a broader inventory and can source containers from multiple locations, offering buyers more options in terms of size, condition, and price.

Online Marketplaces

Platforms like eBay, Gumtree, and specialized websites offer a convenient way to browse and purchase used containers. Buyers should exercise caution and verify the seller’s credibility. These marketplaces allow for price comparisons and often feature user reviews and ratings, which can help in making an informed decision.

Local Suppliers

Regional suppliers provide the advantage of viewing containers in person before purchase, ensuring they meet your specific requirements. Local suppliers might also offer faster delivery times and lower transportation costs, given the proximity.

 Purchasing Used Shipping Containers

Factors to Consider When Buying Used Shipping Containers

Condition and Quality

Used containers are graded based on their condition. One-trip containers are almost new, having made only a single journey from manufacturer to end-user. Wind and watertight (WWT) containers are used but still maintain integrity against the elements, making them suitable for storage.

Cargo-worthy (CW) containers are certified for ongoing transport use. Inspect containers thoroughly to avoid hidden damages, such as rust, dents, or structural weaknesses. Consider hiring a professional to conduct an inspection if you’re unsure of what to look for.

Cost Considerations

Prices vary based on size, condition, and type. Standard 20-foot containers can range from £1,000 to £2,500, while high cube and specialty containers may cost more. Factor in additional expenses like delivery, potential modifications, and any necessary repairs. Customizations, such as adding windows, doors, or insulation, will also add to the overall cost.

Legal and Zoning Regulations

Ensure compliance with local regulations. Depending on the intended use, you may need permits or to adhere to zoning laws. It’s crucial to understand these requirements before purchasing. For instance, converting a container into a living space might require planning permission, while using one for storage might have fewer regulatory hurdles. Always check with local authorities to ensure your plans are compliant.

Shipping Containers UK Limited is a prominent supplier in the UK’s thriving shipping container market, offering a diverse range of new and used containers to meet various needs.

Known for their high-quality products and excellent customer service, Shipping Containers UK Limited provides solutions for storage, transport, and innovative construction projects. Their extensive inventory includes standard, high cube, refrigerated, and custom-modified containers, ensuring versatility for different applications.

Additionally, the company offers services such as container modifications, delivery, and installation, making it a comprehensive provider for those seeking durable and adaptable shipping containers in the UK.

Whether for personal, commercial, or industrial use, Shipping Containers UK Limited stands out as a reliable and resourceful partner in the container industry.

Benefits of Buying Used Shipping Containers


Used containers are significantly cheaper than new ones, making them an attractive option for budget-conscious buyers. Their affordability extends to long-term savings, especially when used for construction projects, as they reduce the need for traditional building materials and labor.


Repurposing containers reduces waste and supports environmental sustainability by extending the life of existing materials. Using shipping containers for construction can lower the carbon footprint associated with producing new building materials and help reduce the volume of waste in landfills.


The modular nature of shipping containers allows for endless customization, making them suitable for a wide range of applications.

They can be easily modified to include doors, windows, electrical wiring, and insulation. This adaptability makes them ideal for everything from simple storage units to complex multi-container structures such as office complexes or multi-story homes.

Challenges and Risks

Quality Assurance

There is a risk of hidden damages in used containers. Working with reputable sellers and inspecting containers thoroughly can mitigate this risk. Look for signs of wear and tear such as rust, structural damage, and ensure that doors and seals function properly.


Transportation and delivery can be challenging due to the size and weight of containers. Ensure you have the necessary infrastructure to handle these logistics. This includes adequate space for delivery trucks, proper foundations for placing the container, and possibly the use of cranes or other heavy equipment for positioning.

Regulatory Hurdles

Navigating local building codes and regulations can be complex. Understanding these requirements beforehand can prevent costly delays and fines. For instance, building codes for container homes might require specific insulation standards to meet residential codes, or zoning laws might limit where you can place a container structure.

Case Studies and Success Stories

Business Applications

Numerous businesses have successfully utilized used containers for pop-up shops, cafes, and mobile offices. For example, Boxpark in London is a pop-up mall made entirely from shipping containers, housing a variety of retail and food outlets. These projects highlight the practical and aesthetic appeal of using containers in commercial ventures.

Residential Uses

Container homes have become popular for their modern design and affordability. DIY enthusiasts and architects alike have created stunning living spaces from used containers.

For instance, the Container City project in London features a series of residential buildings constructed from shipping containers, offering affordable housing solutions in urban areas.

Community Projects

Public spaces, schools, and community centers have been built using shipping containers, demonstrating their potential for large-scale, impactful projects.

The Re-Start Mall in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the Sea Container Café in Folkestone, UK, are examples of community-driven initiatives that use containers to create vibrant, functional spaces for public use.

Used shipping containers are readily available in the UK and offer a cost-effective, sustainable, and versatile solution for various needs.

By understanding the market, considering key factors, and recognizing potential challenges, buyers can make informed decisions and unlock the full potential of these innovative structures.

Whether for storage, business, or living spaces, shipping containers provide a durable and flexible option that aligns with modern trends of sustainability and resourcefulness. As the trend continues to grow, the future looks promising for the repurposed shipping container market in the UK.

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