What is an Inland Container Depot (ICD)?

Inland Container Depot (ICD) is a dry port facility to store and handle full or empty containers. In this blog, learn more about ICD, its process and advantages.
icd in shipping
Logistics is a key part of international trade. With e-commerce exports and simplification of compliance, exporters can now sell internationally without any hassles. However, it is important to understand a few key terms in exports that will help businesses plan and choose the most appropriate methods for them. For example, quality testing and certification labs, export warehousing, etc. A part of this trading infrastructure is Inland Container Depot (ICD).

What is an Inland Container Depot (ICD)?

Inland Container Depot or ICD is a dry port located in an inland part of a country that handles full and empty containers. These containers are moved from ICD to a ship and vice versa via road or rail transport. An ICD is recognized by customs and port authorities as an extended part of the sea port. It is usually a repository for cargo containers that are used to transport export/import goods from source to destination transport hubs.

Since ICDs are located far from ports, they are often referred to as ‘dry ports.’ The Ministry of Commerce and Industry defines an ICD (Inland Container Depot) or CFS (Container Freight Station) as a public facility that offers services for handling and temporary storage of import/export laden containers or empty containers. The services are carried under the control of the Customs Department to deploy goods for warehousing, re-export, outright export, etc., or to park them for temporary storage1.

Difference between Container Freight Station (CFS) and Inland Container Depot (ICD)

ICDs and CFS are often used interchangeably. Both ICD and CFS are common export facilities offering services for the temporary storage of import/export-laden empty containers under Customs control. The key difference between the two is that the CFS is located in close proximity to the mother port, and are not connected via any rail transport. Whereas ICD in shipping is connected to their respective ports via rail transport. This is the reason why ICDs are generally located in the interiors of the country – far from their ports.

How does an Inland Container Depot (ICD) work?

Following are key roles and functions of an ICD2:
· Empty/full containers and cargo are stored on a temporary basis until they are ready for the next transit.
· All documents for shipment and Customs clearance are provided and checked before storage or departure.
· Cargo is received or dispatched at an ICD.
· Servicing and repair facilities for containers are provided.
what is icd in shipping

Advantages of Inland Container Depot

Some of the key advantages of ICD are:

Destressing the mother port

ICDs help in reducing load on ports by sharing the space with their central port. This leads to better organization and management of containers for exports.

Add-on benefits

ICDs are a great help to MSMEs, as they provide them with temporary warehousing facilities. They not only ensure safety and security of cargo in transit but also provide repair services for smooth transport. They also facilitate customs clearance and documentation check, protecting export businesses from first-hand losses due to improper documentation.

Strengthened infrastructure

ICDs help ports in handling huge traffic of containers getting loaded and unloaded for export/import. They help in providing more streamlined and smooth movement of goods. In fact, a good Inland Container Depot can offer premium facilities, trained professionals who have extensive experience handling different types of cargo, and the opportunity to explore first and last-mile logistics.

Reducition in the movement of empty containers

ICDs help in reducing overall movement of empty containers by providing LCL (Less than Container Load) shipment facility.

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA): A seamless international shipping model

Amazon Global Selling – an e-commerce exports program that enables seamless trade, provides FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) for Indian exporters, who can reach international customers and deliver their products across the globe in a hassle-free manner. When you choose FBA to ship your products, here’s what you get:

- Amazon stores your products in the Amazon fulfillment center.
- Amazon handles quick delivery to destinations across the globe with the Prime shipping option.
- Amazon offers 24/7 customer service
- Amazon FBA takes care of the returns
- Amazon FBA notifies you when you need to restock the products (if needed).

To support you for hassle-free logistics, Amazon has also launched SEND, enabling you to ship directly to international fulfillment centers at competitive prices. All you have to do is book, pay and track shipments without any hassles from India to the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who owns an Inland Container Depot?
In India, ICDs are owned by state governments and are managed by the Container Corporation of India (CONCOR)3. CONCOR ensures cost-effective and reliable logistics solutions to its customers by maintaining synergy with the export community and partners for promising growth.
What is the difference between a port and a terminal?
A port is a facility within the harbor where a ship is parked for commercial and trade purposes like loading and unloading goods. Whereas a terminal is a specific point at the port dedicated to a particular activity – for example, a port may have different terminals for gas, crude oil, automobiles, leather goods, etc. A port is a central station for all the different terminals, and along with that, it serves as the shelter for ships, boats, cargo, etc.
What is the difference between a port and a harbor?
A port is a facility within the harbor where a ship is parked for commercial and trade purposes like loading and unloading goods. A harbor is an area where ships are docked to protect them from tides and currents.
Published on January 29, 2023.


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*Map not to scale. The map has been used for design and representational purpose only, it does not depict the geographical boundaries of the country. These do not conform to the external boundaries of India recognized by the Survey of India.