The Tank Container

Testing, Safety & Regulating Authorities

Periodic Testing

The shell and ancillary components of tank containers must be inspected and tested at five-year intervals with an intermediate 2.5 year inspection.

Periodic testing is required for all tanks used to transport hazardous cargoes and for tanks that have undergone welded repairs to the shell. Depending on the country's regulations, tanks used for storage applications within a plant are not governed by transportation regulations and therefore testing may not be necessary until such time the tank is used to transport product.

Multistar advises their clients on a regular basis when a tank is due for testing and if it requires either a 2.5- or a 5-Year examination. At this point the Lessee should arrange to truck the tank to an approved testing facility where testing will be carried out under the supervision of a classification society.

Multistar bears the cost of the testing and depot services only when approved in advance. Transportation to and from the depot, cleaning and any repairs required to carry out the testing are for the account of the Lessee.

The 2.5-Year test includes an internal inspection of the tank container vessel, an external inspection of the ISO frame, a leakage test of the shell and all service equipment including all valves and fittings.

The 5-Year test includes a hydrostatic pressure test, an internal and external visual inspection, a leakage test and a test of the satisfactory operation of all service equipment including all valves and fittings.

After the test is performed and witnessed by an authorized classification society, a certificate is issued and includes current data pertaining to that specific tank container as shown on this sample test report.

For sample test certificates or more detailed information on testing, click here (PDF, 163kb)


Basic Essentials of Operating theTank Safely

It is essential to:

  • Make certain the tank is the correct type and has been approved for the product to be carried. The cargo loaded must not adversely affect the integrity of the stainless steel tank shell, fittings, gaskets, etc.
  • Make certain that the interior and exterior have been properly cleaned, well maintained, statutory inspections kept current and tested in accordance with all regulations.
  • Make certain an on-hire survey of the tank has been performed.
  • Make certain the maximum gross weight (MGW) remains within regulations in various countries. The ullage (free space) must also comply with international regulations.
  • Make certain the tank has all correct markings and placarding and the product is clearly and correctly identified with necessary hazard warnings attached in their correct locations on the tank container.
  • Make certain you are aware of the specific characteristics of the product to be transported. The manufacturer of the product should be contacted for an MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) which offers advice and information concerning the appropriate handling/safety standards, for example - transport information, protective clothing requirements such as eye protection, breathing apparatus, body protection, safety helmet, etc.

Regulating Authorities

Regulating Authorities and Information Sources


49 Code of Federal Regulations - the United States Department of Transportation (US DOT) regulates the transportation of hazardous materials to, from and through the United States.  Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Subtitle B “Other Regulations Relating to Transportation” Parts 100-185 sets forth the standards for hazardous materials transportation.

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Association of American Railroads - a U.S. railroad trade association which represents North America's major freight railroads, conducting and coordinating research, development and other support programs.

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American Chemistry Council - Previously called Chemical Manufacturers Association - promotes education and awareness in the chemical industry.

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European Agreement concerning the International carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road.

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American National Standards Institute - facilitates development by establishing consensus among qualified groups.   ANSI was a founding member of ISO (q.v.) and plays an active role in its governance.

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American Society of Mechanical Engineers - was founded in 1880 as a non-profit educational and technical society.  The Society's main concern remains the in-depth coverage of mechanical engineering technology and its interpretation to the general public.  ASME establishes standards for design, fabrication, inspection and examination pressure vessels.

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American Society for Testing and Materials - is a non-profit organization that provides a forum for producers, users, ultimate consumers and those having a general interest to meet on common ground and write standards for materials, products, systems and services.

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American Welding Society - is a multi-faceted non-profit organization whose major goal is to advance the science, technology and application of welding and related joining disciplines.

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Bundesanstalt fuer Materialforschung und-pruefung - German regulatory authority concerning the carriage of dangerous goods.

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Bureau International des Containers et du Transport Intermodal -

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European Chemical Industry Council -

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Code of Federal Regulations - see 49 CFR above.



International Convention for Safe Containers - provides general acceptable test procedures and strength requirements for the testing, inspection, approval, maintenance, and control of marine containers and tank container frames.

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Canadian Transport Agency - their mission is to administer transportation legislation and Government of Canada policies to help achieve an efficient and accessible transportation system by education, consultation and essential regulation.

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European Chemical Transport Association -

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European Petrochemical Association -

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Association for International shipments of oils, fats and oilseeds -

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Federal Railroad Administration - an agency within the US DOT that is specifically concerned with intermodal transportation regulating the carriage of dangerous goods by rail.

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Hazardous Materials Advisory Council - is an international, non-profit organization devoted to promoting regulatory compliance and safety in transportation of hazardous materials, substances and wastes.

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Intermodal Association of North America -

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Institute of International Container Lessors, Ltd. - is active in governmental, regulatory, customs, tax, educational, technological and environmental matters.  IICL's membership engages in leasing marine cargo containers and chassis to ship operators and others on a broad international basis.

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International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code - is accepted as an international guide to the transport of dangerous goods by sea and is recommended to governments for adoption or for the use as the basis for national regulations.


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International Maritime Organization - is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is responsible for developing and maintaining a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping that includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.  The IMO monitors and recommends regulations published in the IMDG. 

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National Petrochemical and Refiners Association -

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National Tank Truck Carriers

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International Standards Organization - is a worldwide alliance of national standards bodies whose mission is to develop and publish International standardization and related activities.  Currently over 17,000, ISO Standards are documented agreements containing technical specifications and other detailed criteria to be used consistently as rules, guidelines or definitions of characteristics, to ensure that materials, processes and services are fit for their purpose.

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An agency of COTIF, the RID Committee of Experts takes decisions on proposals to amend the regulations concerning the International carriage of dangerous goods by Rail in Europe.

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Reglement de Transport des Matieres Dangereuses - regulates the carriage of dangerous goods within France.



Societe Nationale de Chemin de Fer - the French railroad administration.

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Transport Canada - regulates the carriage of dangerous goods within Canada.

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The Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods that includes regulations on technical conditions applicable to containers which may be accepted for international transport under Customs seal.

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International Union of Railways - based in Europe dealing with such matters as environmental impact assessment, traffic management, law and legislation and promotes harmonization of rail standards.

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United Kingdom Department For Transport - consisting of (1) he Dangerous Goods Branch in London which administers the RID/ADR regulations in the U.K. and (2) the Marine and Coastguard Agency in Southampton which administers IMDG in UK waters.

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United Nations - For regulations and international/regional agreements or conventions governing the international transport of dangerous goods by sea, air, road and inland waterways.   At the UN level, all work related to the transport of dangerous goods is coordinated by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods which produces the “Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods”.  The Recommendations and Regulations are addressed not only to all Governments for the development of their national requirements for domestic traffic but also to international organizations such as IMO, ICAO and regional commissions such as the Economic Commission for Europe.

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United States Department of Transportation - see 49CFR above.

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World Customs Organization

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