What is a Container Seal & Its Importance

Container seals are door seals that are put on international shipping containers once a shipment is loaded. This seal is meant to stay on through to the container's final destination and is removed by the consignee. They can either be a bolt seal or a cable seal and each has its own unique number as identification that is listed on the shipping paperwork.

The most important part of having the seal, besides having it unbroken during shipping, is that it is put in the correct place on the container. A shipping container has two doors and a lock rod on each door. A seal must be placed on either both lock rods or just the right door since that is the door that will open first. If for some reason the container is opened in transit, this seal will be broken and the shipper will be able to tell.

Before opening the container, the people who receive the container must check the bill of lading to be sure the seal number matches with the one on the container they have received. It will have a series of letters and then numbers and all must match exactly or it could be different from the original seal. If for some reason the seal numbers do not match, it is important to contact the shipping line right away and try to have the situation resolved. If possible you should not open or unload the container until you have a representative from the shipping line present. Their participation is crucial in the event of a claim. In any event, the seal is a critical part of shipping a container. Not only is it there to protect the shipper, but it is just as important to the shipping line.