BIC container lines BIC Code Registration Procedure

BIC Code Registration Procedure

Conditions of registration

About the applicants

An application for the registration of a bic code/container prefix will be accepted:

  • by the NRO for the territory in which the owner has his principal place of business (or directly by the BIC as the applicant prefers)
  • by the BIC for owners in places where no NRO exists. A list of NRO‘s accredited by the BIC, stating the territories they cover, can be by clicking on left menu item “National Registration Organisation“.

The term “owner” includes a holder on lease or operator of containers provided such holder on lease or operator exercises full and exclusive control over the containers as though he were the actual owner. Application shall be made by the owner of containers marked or to be marked with the said code. Not withstanding the above, a representative (e.g. maritime agent, forwarder, subsidiary company acting as operating company, container manufacturer, etc…) may apply on behalf of the owner if it is in position of testifying that :

  • it is legally entitled to apply (through permanent delegation or an ad hoc proxy)
  • and that the owner has been duly made aware of the procedure and conditions of registration.

The BIC and its NROs reserve the right to check the authority of such representative.

Two or more owners may be registered as holders of the same code if they agree to be joint holders and nominate one representative whose action shall be binding on all holders jointly and severally.

The same applicant may obtain several codes if the BIC considers the reasons submitted in writing to be satisfactory. One of such reasons may be the operation of ISO and non-ISO containers, or the acquisition of a container fleet in total.

A container prefix may be reserved then registered by an applicant who does not at the moment own containers nor does mark its containers with the code applied for, provided the application is made with the bona fide intention of using the bic code applied for within a reasonable time limit.

The BIC reserves the right to request documents deemed necessary to prove the lawful operations of the applicant, including but not limited to business registration documents, business references, and proof of container ownership.

Registration procedure

Application and choice of an available code

An application form containing the required information and declaration shall be acknowledged by the NRO or the BIC as the case may be. The acknowledgement states which of the choice of three code letter combinations given has been reserved (but not yet registered). If none of them is available, the applicant shall be invited to submit new letter combinations.

Temporary reservation for payment of the registration fee

The applicant shall pay the registration charge by bank transfer to the BIC‘s account. The registration charge (or transfer charge) has to be paid without delay : the reservation period, provided to allow the operations of payment is limited to two weeks, after which the exclusive reservation is cancelled.

Official registration and its consequences

Within one month after payment of the registration fee has been received, the BIC shall issue a registration certificate. Its purpose is not to certify the ownership of containers but that the ISO 4-letter identification code has been allocated pursuant to ISO standard 6346. As a consequence :

  • all related containers can be marked with the bic code as from the date of registration (and not before)
  • the protection of the exclusive property of the container prefix for international use is granted by the BIC to the code holder. In case of an unauthorised use of a bic code by an other company, the code holder is invited to inform B.I.C. and provide it with all available information in order the BIC may intervene.
  • each container marked with a bic code _ _ _ U is officially and worldwide known to be owned – or operated ( see About the applicants) – by the code holder as registered in the BIC’s files, with all the related responsibility (legal, commercial, damage, insurance, etc…) of such property.

In case of a transfer of ownership of such container(s), the above-mentioned responsibility will remain taken on by the code holder until the moment where :

  • the code marking is erased from the container(s)


  • the code marking is changed to an other – duly registered by the BIC and held by the new owner (see Warning).



Individual case : transfer of a valid code

It may occur that the totality of a fleet of containers is transferred from a previous owner A to a new owner B. This may be the case, for example, with a specific purchase of such fleet, or through a global transfer of the assets of the company A (e.g.: merger, purchase of the company, etc…). To display the change of ownership of the fleet of containers, the new owner B may then wish to register a new code (or possibly use a code it already owns); but in such case it would have to re-mark all the containers: this would be a long and costly process. In order to avoid such trouble to the new owner, the BIC allows both the previous and the new owner to apply for an immediate transfer of the related code from the former to the latter, by exception to the general rule of a safety period of ten (10) years as mentioned hereafter in Cancellation.

Yearly renewal of registration

The registration of a container prefix has to be confirmed each year. A renewal fee is payable for each calendar year subsequent to the year of registration.

Publishing the codes

Publication of registered bic codes with the names and addresses of their holders is done on a regular basis.

– With the publication of a yearly paper issue of the Register under the name of “Containers BIC-CODE”.

– With the publication on the web-site of the BIC of a permanently updated extract of the BIC-CODE data base.

One paper copy of the “Containers BIC-CODE” will be supplied free of charge to each code holder. A Code-holder may, if he desires, have complementary information published in “Containers BIC-CODE” (addresses of branch offices for example) : Entries in the BIC-CODE – or see BIC Register, chapter 7.3.5.


The BIC shall cancel the registration of a container prefix (and remove it from the BIC-CODE register) :

  • where requested so to do by the owner, or by the NRO for the territory in which the owner has his principal place of business,
  • following a ruling by a duly appointed arbitrator,
  • when the yearly renewal fee has not been paid,

The BIC may also cancel or suspend the registration in the event of a discovery of false information having been provided by the applicant or should it be discovered that the BIC code has been used by the applicant for unlawful purposes.

A cancelled code will not be available for a new registration before a safety period of ten (10) years has passed.The BIC or the NRO concerned may request any owner as defined in art About the applicants above to declare in writing whether or not all internationally circulating containers of which he is the owner have been marked with the registered code. In the absence of such a declaration within six months the code may be cancelled.


The BIC does not monitor code-holders or their activities nor confirm the existence of containers claimed to be owned, operated or managed by code-hoders.  Attribution of a prefix to a container owner / operator by the BIC does not guarantee the financial soundness of code-holders nor imply any endorsement whatsoever by the BIC of said code-holders or of their commercial or financial activities.

The BIC has no involvement whatsoever in the sale or lease of containers.  The BIC declines all liability related to the sale or lease of containers, the worthiness of containers, or for a failure by any party to neutralize and/or re-mark containers upon sale.

The BIC declines all liability for damages directly or indirectly resulting from the cancellation of a code for non-payment of the renewal fee or for any other reason.

About disputes

As soon as he is informed that his right to any code applied for, or reserved, or registered in his name, is disputed or contested in any way, the applicant shall furnish to the BIC full information relevant to the case. If a dispute concerns a reserved code, the NRO and the BIC may keep the final registration in abeyance until the dispute has been resolved. The reservation shall remain valid under certain conditions. Where such dispute between two applicants cannot be settled by agreement, it shall be referred to arbitration under the Rules of Conciliation and Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce by a single arbitrator and the applicants expressly agrees to accept and abide by the decision of such arbitrator.

In the case of a dispute between an applicant and the BIC or an NRO, the same procedure shall apply.

To the extent to which anything herein contained may in any particular case be inconsistent with law but not further or otherwise, these conditions shall be null and void.

Check digit service

Computers are used by almost all the principal container ports and terminals and by most of the leading container shipping lines and other container transport operators. The larger the accumulation of containers in a particular locality the more difficult it is to correct mistakes which are bound to occur in the transmission or transcription of container markings. If an instruction says that Container ZYXU 876543 must be railed to so and so, and that number is not on record, a man could go and have a look at 10 or 20 containers in the yard, but not at 500 or more. The time taken to find the correct container (if even it may be found!) will be too long and too expensive.

The Check Digit serves to prevent such errors by detecting and indicating incorrect transcription of the identification number. Check digits must conform with the uniform method prescribed by ISO Standard 6346. Only in this way can the numerous computers employ the same checking programme modules for all containers. The above may suffice to explain that to inscribe check digits on the containers is in the immediate self-interest of every owner. The ISO formula for the calculation of the Check Digit is somewhat complex and Check Digits cannot be calculated other than by computer for more than a very few containers.

There are owners who do not have computers, or no spare capacity on them, or who find the programming for check digit allocation too cumbersome to develop. For these owners, the BIC offers to calculate the check digits. The charges are displayed in section Check digit service below.

However, for a small number of containers, the calculation can be done by the code holder, one-line, free of charge (see : “Calculate check digit online”)

Schedule of charges


All charges are payable within 30 days, net of all bank charges.

Wire bank transfers are most welcome. Cheques and major credit cards are also accepted.

The tariff is expressed in Euros (EUR), however invoices can also be issued and paid in U.S. Dollars (USD) upon request of the applicant.
In case of cancellation of a code, the yearly renewal charge for the year of cancellation remains due.

BIC membership

  • annual membership fee : 46 EUR

Registration and Potection of ISO prefixes (“BIC-Codes”)

A. Registration of a new code

  • One time initial registration of Codes, (including one certificate), per code : 2000 EUR
  • additional registration certificates, each : 165 EUR

B. Annual protection of the codes*

  • renewal fee, (per code, per calendar year) : 475 EUR

* not billed the year of the initial registration

C. Transfer of codes (merger, sale of a whole fleet)

  • transfer of code, one code : 2000 EUR
  • Transfer of code (each additional code) : 475 EUR per code

BIC-CODE Register (yearly publication)

  • One free copy is mailed to the main address of each code holder
  • Additional copy, surface postage included : 30 EUR

Entries in the BIC-CODE Register

One entry is listed free of charge.

Additional addresses of offices to be listed in section 8.3. of paper issue of BIC Register :

  • Per address : 15 EUR

Check digit service

  • up to 200 containers:  Free of charge
  • from 201 to 500 containers : 85 EUR
  • more than 500 containers : please contact us

Amendements to BIC-CODE

In its annual issue, the BIC not only publishes new internationally protected codes but endeavours to update information on codes published in preceding issues.
In order to make such edition as effective as possible it is essential that container owners keep B.I.C. informed of any amendment to the data previously provided.

Please use form 7.6.4. and send it to the BIC :

  • adresse: 41, rue Réaumur 75003 PARIS, FRANCE
  • Tel.: +33 (0)1 47 66 03 90
  • Fax : +33 (0)1 47 66 08 91
  • e-mail :


The default of payment of the yearly renewal fee automatically carries cancellation of the Code. Therefore it is of utmost importance to advise the BIC about any change in your address.


How to register a BIC-CODE

First be sure that you are well aware of the BIC-Code system and our conditions of registration (see Conditions of registration)

General case: registration of a new code

Fill in the form carefully (type or block capitals) and completely: all information required is mandatory. Three possible codes are asked in order to save time when a code reveals unavailable.

A soon as the BIC receives the application form duly filled in, the registration procedure will begin.

Its main steps are :

  • actions to check the availability of the required codes
  • application sent to the applicant to sign and stamp it
  • notice of temporary registration sent by the BIC together with the invoice of registration charge
  • payment of the charge
  • official registration, from which date the container fleet may begin to be marked

Individual case : transfer of a valid code

In such case both companies are required to notice immediately to the BIC, separately or jointly, such transfer : the BIC will then check with them the main features of such transfer. If the result is positive, the BIC will cancel the registration of the previous holder (company A) for the related code and will immediately transfer its registration to the new holder (company B), without applying the safety period of ten (10) years as mentioned in Cancellation

In order to avoid any possible legal, juridical or commercial trouble linked with the liability of a code holder company, the BIC strongly recommends that the present holder of the code contacts the BIC in advance, before establishing the formal documents of transfer of property : the BIC may thus provide useful advice related to the efficiency of such documents in link with the code holder liability and begin the checking investigations : this will result in a safer and quicker procedure of transfer of the code.

Other related services proposed by the BIC

Additional entries in the BIC-CODE Register

A code holder may, if he needs so, have complementary information published in the BIC-CODE Register (addresses of branch offices for example). See our schedule of charge above for charges related to the registration and publication of these additional addresses.

For registration of additional addresses please download and use form 7.6.2.

Feedback Form
Please use to look up specific container numbers.


Submit*Mandatory Field


Bureau International des Containers et du Transport Intermodal

41, Rue Réaumur, 75003 PARIS, FRANCE
Tel: +33 147 660 390 | Fax: +33 147 660 891

BV Certification ISO-9001-2015

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