Can Shipping Containers Be Buried?

A shipping container is made with the most sturdy material possible.  Nevertheless, it is not a good idea to bury one. 

Shipping containers are not made to be buried and could cave in from the weight of the dirt pushing inward from the outside of the container. 

It is extremely likely the container will cave in, either from the top down or from the sides inward.  The correct answer is no, but some people will do it anyhow. 

What Are Some Reasons to Bury a Shipping Container?

Sometimes people will have strong enough reasons to bury the shipping containers that they will ignore the advice not to do it.  So, what are some of those reasons?

  • Security reasons will prompt some companies to bury them
  • To use the containers as an underground bunker or a survival bunker
  • They want to integrate the shipping containers into their landscaping
  • They want to build a storm shelter
  • As part of an effort to gain better temperature control for the goods inside
  • For use as a panic room
  • Some people use them as an underground home, either half-buried or fully-buried
  • To use the container as part of either a commercial garden or a domestic garden
  • For use as a tomb when a person wishes to be buried at sea
  • To use as a root cellar
  • For use as an outdoor make-shift office

What Happens When You Bury a Shipping Container?

If you decide to go ahead and bury the shipping container, be prepared for serious consequences. 

Cracks and holes could appear throughout the container.  This would allow dirt, water and even rodents to get in and damage any goods within its walls. 

If you are hauling cargo for a client and decide to bury the container as part of a storage plan, he or she will not be happy with you if there is damage. 

You are strongly advised not to bury any shipping containers that you plan to use again for transport purposes as this would degrade their quality.

Is It Safe to Bury a Shipping Container?

The answer is no, not really.  The premise of simply burying the cargo container underground can prove quite dangerous. 

We already told you the weight of the soil around the container can cause it to collapse.  If someone is standing on top of that area when it collapses, they can be severely injured.  It is also not safe for the environment.  

The container itself can become corroded causing harmful chemicals to infiltrate the soil around the container. 

Then if the surrounding steel material collapses, it is going to be very difficult to remove it from the area.  It may at some point even protrude up from the ground and become a tripping hazard.

Is It Legal to Bury a Shipping Container?

Yes, it is legal as long as it is in your own backyard.  It is required that you not interfere with utility lines.  It is also against the law to violate any zoning ordinances. 

What you must do is check with the proper authorities prior to burying the cargo container.  They can inform you of any problems before you proceed. 

As for another legal matter involving shipping containers, if your neighbor buries one in his or her backyard, you have no legal way of stopping them or finding out why they are doing it. 

If it does not infringe upon your property in any way, there is nothing that can legally be done about it. 

Do You Need Special Permission to Bury a Shipping Container?

The simple answer is yes, you must get permission from your local city or town government.  When you contact them for that permission, they will also let you know of any other legal requirements regarding the burying of a shipping container.

The preceding information is in regard to having a storage container in your backyard.  But what if you want to use one as an outdoor office, and you have picked out a great vacant lot? 

In such as case you absolutely MUST contact the proper authorities for permission.  In no way are you able to just start the burying procedures without permission. 

How Do You Bury a Shipping Container?

Okay, so let’s say you have made the decision to bury a shipping container and have met all the legal requirements, now what?  How do you do it? 

The storage container must be reinforced with something called a Gabion basket.  A Gabion basket is a cage made of steel.  They are often filled with stone and used to support a bridge or sure up a hill alongside a major highway. 

Gabion Basket

After digging the hole for the shipping container, you have to fill that hole with a stone foundation.  It is also critical to surround the container with the Gabion baskets.  The idea is to lessen the chances of having the container cave in from the weight of the dirt. 

It is also highly advisable NOT to put anything on top of the storage container.  Although you would be taking a huge risk, burying a shipping container can be done.

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