BIC procedure for registration of container owner code

Bureau International des Containers (BIC):

Registration conditions:


BIC will register container owner codes comprising four capital letters of the Latin alphabet, the fourth (final) letter of each being U. This rule is based on ISO standard 6346. Such codes are called “ISO alpha codes” or “BIC codes”. 


The term “owner” includes holders on lease or operators of containers provided such holder on lease or operator exercises full and control of the containers as though they were the actual owners.

Application shall be made by the owner of containers marked or to be marked with the said code. Notwithstanding the above, a representative (marine agent, shipper, operator, container manufacturer, etc.) may apply on behalf of the owner subject to the following:

  • it is duly authorized by the owner

  • the owner is aware of these conditions and the registration procedure 

BIC reserve the right to verify the authority of such a representative.

The same applicant may receive several codes if BIC considers the reasons submitted in writing to be satisfactory. One of such reasons may be the operation of ISO and non-ISO containers.

A code may be reserved and registered for the applicant, who currently does not have containers, provided that the applicant intends to acquire and to mark containers with a code within a reasonable time. 

Registration procedure 

Registration of new code:

  • Complete an application on the official BIC website. To save time, if the proposed code is in use, it is required that three options of codes shall be provided. The following codes cannot be registered: BICU, IIIU, IRUU, ISOU, OOOU, XXXU, YYYU, ZZZU

  • From the time when BIC receives the application, the registration procedure begins. Main stages:

    • Checking of the possibility to register one of the declared codes. If all of the proposed options are in use, the applicant will be notified and shall submit new code combinations

    • Sending of a confirmation that BIC has reserved one option along with an invoice for the registration fee

    • Payment of registration fee. The applicant shall pay the registration fee in accordance with the BIC invoice. The registration fee of EUR 2,000 (and 46 EUR for the membership fee) shall be paid without delay. The code reservation period to make the payment is two weeks, upon the expiry of which the exclusive reservation is canceled. Bank and other fees are paid additionally by the payer

    • Official registration, from the time of which the containers may be marked with the registered code. Within one month from the date of receipt of funds to the account, BIC issues a Certificate of registration and sends it to the applicant. Note: it is necessary to take into account the above period when planning own activities. 

Special case: re-registration of existing code

A situation might arise where the entire container fleet is transferred from company A to company B. In order to confirm the change of the owner of the container fleet, the new owner B may register a new code (or the previously registered code may be used), but, in this case, it is necessary to carry out a long and expensive procedure to remark the containers.

As a solution to this problem for the new owner, BIC provides those two owners with the possibility to transfer the code without the intermediate period of 10 years when the code cannot be assigned to any applicant.

In this case, both companies shall contact BIC separately or jointly providing the information on such transfer of the containers and the intention to re-register the code.

Together with the applicants, BIC will verify the possibility of such re-registration. Given the positive result, BIC will cancel the registration of the previous code holder (company A) and re-register this code to the new holder (company B) without applying a period of 10 years.

The re-registration fee is 2,000 Euro (and 46 EUR for the membership fee). Bank and other fees are paid additionally by the payer.

The Certificate of registration is not confirmation of the container ownership.

The Certificate confirms that 4 letters of the identification code were registered in accordance with ISO 6346. 

As a result of registration: 

  • all containers owned by the owner can be marked with a code from the date of registration (not earlier)

  • BIC provides protection code to the code holder. If unauthorized use of the code by another organization is detected, the code owner is encouraged to inform BIC and to provide all possible information for the BIC follow-up action

  • each container marked with a code of type _ _ _ U is officially and world-wide known as owned or used by the code holder registered with BIC, with full responsibility (legal, commercial, insurance, etc.). 

In case of transfer of containers to the ownership of another company, the above responsibility remains valid for the code holder until:

  • the code is removed from the container(s)

  • the marking is replaced by the new owner registered with BIC

  • the marking remained unchanged, but the code was re-registered to another owner.

Annual renewal of registration

Registration is renewed every year. The renewal fee of 475 Euro (and 46 EUR for the membership fee) is charged additionally for each calendar year following the registration year. Bank and other fees are paid additionally by the payer.

Publication of codes

The registered codes with the names and addresses of their holders are usually published once a year. This edition is called "BIC-CODE". Another form of publication is the catalog posted on the BIC official website in the BIC CODE Section, which is updated monthly. One copy of the BIC-CODE for each registered code will be sent free of charge to the code holder. If he so wishes, the code holder may provide additional information to include in in the BIC-CODE (for example, the addresses of the branch offices). 

Removal from register

BIC shall cancel the registration and remove the code from the BIC-CODE register:

  • At the request of the owner 

  • Following the instructions of arbitration court

  • When the annual code renewal fee has not been paid. 

The canceled code may not be registered with another applicant for 10 years.

BIC concerned may request the owner to confirm in writing whether all containers used in international circulation, which he owns, were actually marked with a registered code. If there is no such declaration in place within six months, the code may be canceled. 


BIC is not liable for the sale, suitability or transfer of the containers and BIC was not properly notified and/or the containers were not re-marked.

Also, BIC is not responsible for removing the code from the registry due to non-payment of the annual fee when the owner did not notify BIC of the change of the owner’s address. 


Once a case occurs that the right to any code registered or reserved in the name of the applicant is discussed or disputed in any way, the applicant shall submit to BIC complete information regarding this case. If the dispute concerns a reserved code, BIC may withhold the final registration until the dispute is settled. Reservation shall remain valid subject to the stipulated conditions.

Where such a dispute cannot be settled by agreement, it shall be referred to and decided in arbitration under the Rules of Conciliation and Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce by one judge, and the applicant shall agree to accept and comply with this decision.

In case of a dispute between the applicant and BIC, the same procedure shall be applied. 

Final provisions

If any of the provisions set forth herein contradicts the law, then these provisions shall be considered invalid.

Your Name*
Company name
Your E-mail address*
Your Question
Protection from automated form filling

* - required fields