5 Things to Know About Renting a Shipping Container
Jul 2020

5 Things to Know About Renting a Shipping Container

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What’s the best shipping container for your needs? Shipping containers have a long way from their origins as transport solutions. Today, their tough steel exterior helps them retain their status as the go-to choice for transporting goods. Their large size and versatility have opened the doors to other applications, like modular and low-cost structures for homes, offices, and even pop-up retail locations.

Getting the best use and value out of this versatile storage solution comes down to figuring out what you’re using them for. Are you transporting precious cargo across Toronto? Or perhaps it’s an on-site installation for extra storage or a support structure? Figuring out what you need them for allows you to rent the right size and type of shipping container to keep its contents in perfect condition during transport, storage, or even everyday use.

Are you thinking of renting a shipping container in Toronto? Learn expert tips from Sigma Containers for maximizing your rental, whether it’s for transport, storage, or building a portable and mobile structure.

1. Check out multiple suppliers

Like any shopping experience, getting the best deal on your shipping container rental means comparing quotes from different suppliers around the GTA. Make sure to ask suppliers some useful questions to determine whether their containers come in the right size, price, security level, and other features.

It also helps to pay attention to how they answer your questions and how quickly to determine the level of service you can expect. Make sure you ask about:

  • Rental fees, discounts for longer rental periods, and delivery charges
  • One-time, month-to-month, and other rental terms
  • The time it takes to deliver the container, and the notice required to terminate the rental
  • Location of containers and distance from your site
  • Available sizes and the condition of the containers
  • Theft and damage waivers
  • Customer service hours.

2. Design and security features

What do shipping containers look like? Depending on the specific application, not all of their interiors are bare steel beams. In fact, shipping container suppliers modify them to support a range of transport, storage, installation requirements, and security concerns.

When renting a shipping container, it’s important to consider how you will be using it and ensure that it’s built with the right features. These add-ons range from locking mechanisms to doors, shelving, and accommodations for office furniture and storage.


Shipping containers for rent are typically equipped with a standard lock, but others come with advanced locking mechanisms. These advanced locks work similarly to a bank vault to prevent thieves from simply cutting them. Built with an internal locking mechanism, these locks can only be accessed with a dedicated key, and are useful in securing expensive items.


Depending on your requirements, you will find shipping containers fitted with single or double entry doors. For storage of large items or frequent access, a double entry door may be ideal, so you can easily access items from either side as required without disrupting the flow of inventory. Roll-up or open-shut doors are also available and allow damage-free loading and unloading of fragile items.

Shelving and Furnishing

When renting a shipping container, consider what it will be used for. On-site storage means requiring shelving units and other accommodations to keep items compact and in good condition.

Similarly, a modular structure, like office space, means allocating ample room for furniture and equipment. These modified shipping containers will also be fortified with tamper-resistant locks and insulation against extreme temperatures, mildew, water damage, and condensation.

3. Future use and long-term value

How long will you need your rental? When renting a shipping container, consider both immediate and potential long-term storage or structural uses. For instance, your initial reason for renting a shipping container is on-site storage to supplement warehouse or even at-home capacity. But what if demand for inventory and storage space continues to grow?

Shifting to a long-term shipping container lease offers many benefits. These storage and structural solutions are incredibly adaptable and can transition to permanent use as your needs evolve.

While you may be initially renting one for a mobile office, a few modifications for insulation, access, security, and furnishing can help transform a rented shipping container into a permanent workstation, without costing nearly as much as a traditional building.

4. Rental specifics: permits, fees, and timelines

Where are you setting up your rented shipping container? Depending on your location in Toronto, these massive modular structures may require a permit to stay on-site — a permanent one for permanent structures, and a temporary use permit for short-term events or loading and unloading periods. Prior to renting, make sure to check restrictions by zoning area, as residential areas tend to be stricter, compared to rural and industrial zones.

Take time to check the type and extent of site prep required. For locations that are flat or level, preparation would only typically involve basic levelling and clean-up, while rocky, hilly, and muddy terrains would require a more extensive preparation by a construction crew.

5. Shipping container sizes

The cost of renting a shipping container in Toronto largely comes down to its size. As different sizes offer varying storage capacities, the rental cost changes with each square footage of available space.

Typically, for-rent shipping containers come in two standard dimensions: 20 and 40 feet long and 8 feet wide. Some providers may charge extra for custom containers that are cut down or welded together.

Not nearly wide enough for your storage or mobile office needs? Some suppliers offer containers that are up to 10 feet wide, to accommodate bulky items with enough room for walking between them. Before renting a shipping container, make sure to determine what will be stored inside or what it will be used for to get the accurate dimensions.

6. Final inspection and site preparation

Not all shipping containers are the same — maximizing their use requires getting them in the best condition to start with. Prior to renting one, take time to carefully inspect the entire container, especially if it’s used. Make sure to check for:

  • Dents — these indicate that the container could hold water, leading to rust and leakage.
  • Severe rust — some rust is expected in steel, but severe rust will result in degradation and holes. A fresh coat of paint can prevent this.
  • Holes — while some holes can be plugged, larger ones are difficult to repair and result in damage to items stored inside. When inspecting the container, check for light streaming indoors — a good way to find out if there are holes that are not easily visible.
  • Chemicals — shipping containers are treated with a waterproofing coating. Check with your supplier to ensure that the chemicals are safe and toxic-free to avoid harmful exposure and residue.

For more tips on what you need to know before renting a shipping container, call Sigma Container at 855-340-3342 or contact us here.

Tom Bray is a freelance writer with over five years experience writing for online publications and over ten years in business and sales. He studied journalism and media and has written for various online outlets on multiple topics. His specialty subjects are shipping containers and transport logistics.

Tom’s passion for writing and transport logistics motivates him to provide frequent direct marketing content that can show you how a shipping container can be effectively utilized and modified to each person’s needs.

You can connect with Tom via email at