Shipping containers need to be secured with a seal, in order to comply with ISO 17712 standards. These high-security bolt seals are released to the shipper, once the empty container is released to them.

A container seal fee is occasionally charged to the shipper for supplying them with a high-security bolt seal that must be used to secure the container after the loading process is completed. The seal fee is designed to pass on the charges for the cost of the bolt seal.

In instances where carriers charge a seal fee, shippers are required to compensate carriers for the seal. This is because most shipping lines mandate using the carrier-issued seal on their containers. 

In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at container seal fees, how they are charged and delivered, if this fee can be avoided and if there are seal fees for shipper owned containers (SOC). 

How Much Is the Container Seal Fee?

Not all shipping lines charge a container seal fee. This depends on the carrier, location and type of agreements between the shipping line and the shipper or consignee. 

The average container seal fee is around $5.00 to $10.00 per high-security bolt seal. That also means that if a SecuraCam container with an additional seal is needed, the shipping line may charge for an extra seal.

Who Charges a Container Seal Fee?

Container seal fees are charged by the shipping line, as they own the shipping container and the seal. If shippers appoint a freight forwarder to handle their shipments, instead of working directly with shipping lines, the freight forwarder will charge the seal fee to the shipper instead. 

In this case, the shipping lines charge the seal fee to the freight forwarder, and the freight forwarder to the shipper, usually with a slight markup. 

Who Pays for the Container Seal Fee?

According to industry practice, container seal fees are paid by the shipper, who is also the exporter. However, this can also depend on the agreements between the cargo owner and the shipping line or the freight terms. 

How Are Container Seals Delivered?

When the shipper’s nominated trucker picks up the empty container, the container seal is released at the same time. The container seal is usually handed over in one of two different ways. 

It is either handed to the trucker together with the Equipment Interchange Receipt (EIR), also known as a container release order (CRO) or taped to the insides of the empty shipping container. The trucker then heads to the exporter’s warehouse and hands over the seal together with the documents. 

Can Container Seal Fees Be Avoided?

Unfortunately container seal fees cannot be avoided as there are costs to acquiring and manufacturing high-security bolt seals. These seals are compliant with ISO 17712 standards and shipping lines have detailed seal management policies.

However, take note that not all carriers may charge a container seal fee to shippers. Some carriers build the fee into the ocean freight rate and is therefore sometimes not visible on the invoice. 

Is There a Container Seal Fee for Shipper Owned Containers (SOC)?

When shipping cargo using Shipper Owned Containers (SOC), shipping lines will not charge a container seal fee. In this scenario, the shipper would have to account for their own seal and is free to choose any type of seal, as long as it complies with the ISO 17712 standards.

How Are Container Seals Used?

Container seals are used to secure the shipping container after the loading process is completed. Take a look at the following guide on how to seal a shipping container for more information.

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Gerrit Poel

Co-Founder & Writer
at freightcourse

About the Author

Gerrit is a certified international supply chain management professional with 16 years of industry experience, having worked for one of the largest global freight forwarders.

As the co-founder of freightcourse, he’s committed to his passion for serving as a source of education and information on various supply chain topics.