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“The ILU-Code, a standardized identifier for intermodal loading units in Europe, is an important voluntary initiative supporting the competitiveness of Combined Transport. It is a very good example of paperless solution for stakeholders of these transport-chains.”

Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Transport


Click to open/close the FAQ.

1) Our company already has a BIC-Code. Do we also need to have an ILU-Code?

According to the ISO 6346 standard, the BIC-Code may be used to mark all freight containers, including – besides ISO containers – CEN standardized containers or swap-bodies. However, if you also have semi-trailers or plan to acquire some, obtaining an ILU-Code is recommended. Regarding the ILU-Code, UIRR and BIC agreed to keep the 4th letter “K” free for all the owners who are already registered with BIC. On request, they will be able to register an ILU-owner-key with the first three letters corresponding to their BIC-Code.

2) Why is the 4th letter of the ILU-Code limited to A, B, D, E and K?

CEN decided to keep codes free for other applications given that it is hard to foresee what the future needs will be. Each 4th letter allows the allocation of nearly 17.000 codes. The five letters used in the fourth position should be sufficient in the near future to allow all European companies owning loading units to register an ILU-Code. If demand should exceed this number, CEN will release further letters to be used in the ILU-Code.

3) Why can’t I find the EN13044 standard on your website?

CEN and national standardisation organisations receive their financing through the selling of standards. UIRR therefore is not entitled to publish the text of the standard on its website. However the most important clauses are quoted. You can find a list of national standards organisations and CEN – from where you may purchase a copy of the standard – if you click here (www.cen.eu).

4) How am I protected against the illegal use of my code by others?

Standards are voluntary agreements of the industry and the same applies for the ILU- and BIC-Code. If UIRR receives information that an ILU-Code is misused, or its use is unauthorised it would inform the company that the code is either not registered or reserved for another company.
When an owner code is officially registered and published by UIRR, all information regarding the loading units marked with this code coming from railway undertakings, CT operators, customs, etc. is transmitted to the registered user. If an intermodal loading units had an owner code which was not registered by BIC or UIRR, these ILUs would not be allowed into circulation by the aforementioned actors. The experience acquired with the BIC-Code shows that abuses are very rare in practice.

5) Are the ILU- and BIC-Code compulsory?

These two codes are based on standards, that is to say on voluntary agreements concluded by the transport sector, created in order to ease the flow of transports. These codes facilitate the universal use of the loading units as all actors of the transport sector and the Authorities may rapidly and easily identify the owner and, if necessary, provide him with information.
The expected efficiency improvements will become visible only after the new markings have been in use for a sufficient long period enabling their proliferation. UIC railway undertakings and UIRR operators have therefore decided that after a three-year transition period, that is to say from July 2014, only loading units equipped with a BIC-Code or an ILU-Code will be accepted at terminals. Other railway undertakings, carriers, CT and terminal operators and harbours will join them broadly.
That is why marking using the ILU-code is urgently recommended. This may not necessarily apply to containers which are for example transhipped within industrial sites or in other closed environments.

6) Why should I renew my code after a year?

The codes are used for the identification of the owners. Therefore, it is important that the contact data are up-to-date and companies which do not exist anymore are removed from the register. 

7) What happens if the loading units are sold?

Accordingto the ILU-Code General Terms, when the ILU-Code-marked loading units are sold to another company or person, the old owner has the responsibility to erase the ILU-Code markings on the loading units.
No message has to be sent to UIRR as only the ILU-Code Owner-keys are registered by UIRR as administrator and published. UIRR has no database of all loading units that are marked with ILU-Codes.
The buyer of the loading unit has also the interest to mark his loading units with ILU-Codes. Therefore, if he is not already an ILU-Code holder, he should register an ILU-Code Owner-key at www.ilu-code.eu and mark then his loading units accordingly.

In case of a total sale of a company with a whole fleet of loading units, it can be useful to ask UIRR to transfer the Owner-key to the new company.

8) Where should I place my ILU-Codes on a loading unit?

The ILU‐Code consisting of the owner-key, serial number and check digit, shall be positioned on the ILU as far as practicable as shown in the figure beneath (download PDF version):


The ILU-Code shall be present at least on both side walls and on the roof (minimum requirement according to EN 13044).
Optionally the marks may be present at both the rear end wall and front wall and a second time on the roof (rotated by 180 degrees). This is the recommended option for best operational visibility in compliance with the worldwide practice for maritime containers (ISO 6346).

According to the standard, letters and numerals of the ILU‐Code shall not be less than 100 mm high and of proportionate height and width. They shall be durable and in a color contrasting with that of the ILU. The layout of the ILU‐Code shall be one single horizontal line. Where constructional features of the ILU dictate otherwise, the layout may differ from the horizontal. The owner key shall be joined together and shall be separated from the serial number by at least one character space. The serial number shall be separated from the check digit also by one character space and the check digit shall be displayed in a box.

9) What are the costs for the allocation of an ILU-Code Owner-key ?

The one-time allocation of the ILU-Code Owner-key will cost EUR 250, and the renewal, due only every year, EUR 100.

10) I've lost my login, what can I do ?

You can contact us either by phone +32 2 548 78 94 or by email administration(@)ilu-code.eu to retrieve your login.

11) Where can I find the Register of the ILU-Code Owner-keys?

The up-to-date electronic Register may be accessed online at http://www.ilu-code.eu/en/consult-the-ilu-code-register.

12) I would like to mark several loading units. Is it possible to calculate a series of check digits simultaneously?

There is a tool in the password protected client section to calculate several check digits simultaneously. After encoding the owner-key and the first registration number of a series, the consecutive check digits are automatically displayed and you may export this data to an Excel file.

13) How do I choose the registration number for each loading unit?

The registration number may be freely chosen by the ILU owner. It shall consist of 6 numerals. If the series does not total 6, it shall be preceded by the number of zeros necessary to make up 6 numerals. Read more

14) What’s the difference between ILU-Codes and Owner-key?

ILU-Codes have the following structure:

Allocation by UIRR

Registration number
Free allocation by owne

Check digit
Given calculation procedure




ILU-Codes consist then of the owner-key, the registration number and the check digit.
The ILU-Code owner-key is often shortly designated as “ILU-Code”.

15) During the registration procedure, I am requested to give a BIC-Code. What is this BIC-Code?

The BIC (Bureau International des Containers et du Transport Intermodal) is the Paris-based entity in charge for the allocation of the worldwide recognized BIC-Codes, aimed for the identification of all ISO containers mainly used in the maritime transport (www.bic-code.org).
During the ILU-Code registration procedure, namely in the registration form, you are asked to give the BIC-Code in case you have one, which refers of course to the code for identification of ISO containers, and not your bank identification code!

16) Where can I buy ILU-Codes stickers?

In order to ease the marking of loading units with ILU-Codes, UIRR launched an additional service for the online purchase of ILU-Code stickers.
The ILU-holder is nevertheless absolutely free to choose any other provider for the ILU-Code stickers.
For new loading units, the producer often provides the customer with all the necessary markings, the codification plate as well as the logo and other markings related to the company’s visual identity.

17) Who should reserve an ILU-Code : the leasing company or the lessee?

If you are a leasing company who rents intermodal loading units, you may wish to know who should reserve an ILU-Code and mark the loading units - you or your customer. In long-term leasing contracts, we can only recommend that your customer reserves an ILU-Code under his company name. Only in short-term contracts it would make sense that the lessor/leasing company reserves an ILU-Code to mark the ILUs with his Owner-code.
The ILU-Code Owner-keys are all registered and published in the web-based official Register. Should a problem/incident occur with a loading unit (for example a lost/found loading unit in a terminal), the terminal, authorities - police, customs - or third entities will contact the company via the contact person who is named in the ILU-Code Register.
Therefore it is important that the ILU-Code establishes the most direct connection to the entity operating the loading units.

18) Do I need to register my loading units once they are identified with ILU-Codes?

No, you do not need as only the ILU-Code Owner-keys are registered by UIRR and published. UIRR does not have a database of the loading units marked with ILU-Codes.
In the section “Calculate the check-digit”, there is a tool that helps you calculate the check-digits of the ILU-Codes. You are free to use this tool but please note that the data will not be stored in a database.

end faq

ILU-Code, the European identifier of intermodal loading units

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