The Difference Between Soc Container and Coc Container

Feb 23,2024
Industry News
What is the difference between SOC and COC? Why do more and more cargo owners own SOC containers? Do you really need to have your own shipping container

A shipping container is a large metal container used for ocean transportation, typically to hold cargo for safe and efficient transportation. These containers are usually made of steel and come in standard sizes and construction. To enable smooth transfer between various means of transportation (such as ships, railways, trucks, etc.).

Key features of shipping containers include

Standard size

Shipping containers usually follow international standard sizes, such as 20 feet (about 6 meters) and 40 feet (about 12 meters) long, for easy stacking and transportation.


Containers have a sturdy metal structure that protects cargo from damage and harsh weather conditions.


By using standardized containers, the process of loading and unloading cargo can be simplified, loading efficiency improved, and loading and unloading time reduced.


Modern shipping containers are usually equipped with tracking equipment that can monitor the location and status of goods in real time, improving the controllability of transportation.

Shipping containers play an important role in international trade, providing efficient and safe solutions for global cargo transportation. Through shipping containers, merchants can realize cross-border trade, expand market scope, and enjoy cost-effective transportation services.

What is a shipper-owned container?

A shipper-owned container (SOC) is a shipping container owned by an independent person or business. The SOC, in turn, is the property of the shipper, who then pays the carrier a fee to transport the cargo container or ship for them by purchasing a slot on their truck.

SOC containers have the potential to reduce freight costs for shippers or businesses with stable shipping needs by eliminating container rental fees. SOCs offer a tailor-made approach that enables shippers to use them as needed, consistent with their specific transportation schedules and cargo requirements.

Soc Container vs Coc Container

In addition, SOC containers help avoid unforeseen demurrage (DEM) and demurrage (DET) costs caused by customs clearance delays, port congestion, etc.

The use of SOCs becomes critical in areas where carriers are unable or unwilling to offer containers or offer them at exorbitant prices. Shippers can use it to independently source goods in remote areas

SOC enables shippers to reduce their dependence on external container providers and increase operational autonomy across the entire cargo movement.

What is a COC container?

COC, also known as carrier-owned container, refers to a shipping container owned and managed by a container liner company or carrier. Carrier-owned containers (COCs) are the property of the carrier, belong to the carrier's container fleet, and are leased to the carrier's consignees.

Typically additional charges such as demurrage and detention may be incurred when using COC containers.

Carrier-owned containers are typically used for standard shipments on high-traffic routes, providing shippers with the flexibility of FCL and LCL shipments. If a carrier has an adequate supply of containers, there is little incentive to use them.

The shipper returns the COC container to the carrier upon delivery of the cargo, eliminating the need to manage empty containers. It relieves shippers of container maintenance, repair and regulatory compliance responsibilities.

What is an OWC one-way container?

OWC stands for disposable container, one-way container (empty containers do not need to be returned). The consignee at the destination port picks up the goods in boxes and does not need to return the boxes after unloading, because when the buyer and seller conclude the transaction, the seller has sold the boxes to the buyer as part of the price of the goods.

What is the difference between SOC and COC?

A SOC and a COC are usually physically identical, the only difference is which party owns it and is responsible for it. SOC containers are fully owned by the shipper or cargo owner and are continuously reused to transport the same products. COC containers belong to the carrier or shipping company.

Carrier-owned containers belong to the carrier or logistics company and are leased to consignees who do not have their own containers. Once delivery is complete, the COC is returned to the carrier, who then leases it to other customers. Just go to the designated yard to pick up or return the container according to the carrier's manifest or return list. The container and cargo hold are integrated, and no additional application or operation steps are required.

SOCs, on the other hand, are returned to the shipper, who must store and maintain them independently of the carrier. When the SOC container arrives at the destination port, it is returned to the designated yard according to the instructions of the container leasing company.

Generally speaking, SOC space is cheaper than COC space, but the degree of cheaperness depends on the number of spaces used by the customer, the shortage of boxes on the carrier, and the cost of returning the box at the destination port. Under special circumstances, COC space will be cheaper than SOC. For example, in the China-Russia train transportation, the Russian Railways will use the low price of COC to attract customers to use its containers to export to Russia in order to take back the Chinese containers.

Why do more and more cargo owners own SOC containers?

The main reason is that some goods are not unloaded and empty containers are returned immediately after arriving at the port, but are occupied for a long time. For example, cargo at construction sites is often difficult to unload quickly because there is a lack of suitable unloading locations, resulting in large amounts of building materials piling up inside the containers. This situation not only incurs high demurrage charges, but the cost of purchasing new containers is obviously more economical. In addition, after the container is unloaded, it can also be used as temporary office or living space, greatly improving its utilization rate.

Do you really need to have a SOC container?

Although SOCs bring a certain amount of autonomy and control to business owners, they are not an ideal investment option for all companies. If your delivery location is in a remote area, SOC containers may be an option worth considering. But before you decide to purchase a SOC, be sure to take a comprehensive look at your business's unique transportation needs and make an in-depth evaluation of whether the SOC is a wise investment in your interests.

SOCs (own containers) can be expensive—a 20-foot SOC typically costs between $1,300 and $2,000, while a 40-foot SOC can cost between $1,700 and $3,000. However, when you consider the possible demurrage charges for leasing a COC (Common Container) at various locations and storage times, these charges are likely to be comparable to, or even higher than, the price of a SOC.

Especially when you need to ship large quantities of products to distant or remote locations, or along container routes that lack regular cargo flow, investing in your own SOC containers can be a wise decision. Doing so allows you to ship your products more cost-effectively. In addition, purchasing a second-hand SOC is also an option worth considering. It can minimize your initial investment while still allowing you to enjoy the various advantages brought by SOC, and the cost is relatively more affordable.