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An Inland Container Depot, also known as an ICD, is a substantial part of the logistics industry. ICDs can be found all over India located close to railway stations in the country. They are important to businesses exporting and importing goods because they function as a warehouse for storing goods in transit before loading and after unloading.


What is an Inland Container Depot (ICD)?

According to Ministry of Commerce (MoC) guidelines, the meaning of inland container depot is “a common user facility with public authority status equipped with fixed installations and offering services for handling and temporary storage of import/export laden and empty containers carried under Customs and other agencies competent to clear goods for home use, warehousing, temporary admissions, re-export, temporary storage for onward transit and outright export. Transshipment of cargo can also take place from such stations.”

This means that an Inland Container Depot is a transport hub that acts as a temporary storage location for containers with goods for loading and empty containers that have been unloaded. This location is supervised by the Customs department and other similar agencies.  The goods from an ICD are sent to the mother port, the seaport located closest to the depot.

Also read: What is transit insurance? Meaning, types, cost of policy

Functions of Inland Container Depot

These are the functions and objectives of Inland Container Depots:

  • Receipt and dispatch/delivery of cargo
  • Stuffing and stripping of containers
  • Temporary storage of cargo and containers
  • Maintenance and repair of container units
  • Transit operations by rail/road to and from serving ports
  • Customs clearance
  • Consolidation and desegregation of LCL cargo
What is LCL cargo?The full form of LCL is Less than a Container Load and describes shipments via sea that are not large enough to fill a full 20ft or 40ft shipping container. Since they are smaller consignments, these are grouped with other cargo. This term is similar to LTL (Less than Truckload) shipping used for shipments via road.

The role of an Inland Container Depot may be different according to the companies that have set up these establishments. Some companies will provide all the functions mentioned above while some will have only a few services from this list.

How does an ICD work?

Given below is the process of how an Inland Container Depot works:

In case of exports:

  1. Companies sent shipments which are received by the depot for temporary storage
  2. All documents for shipment and customs clearance are provided by the business
  3. Documents are verified by customs officials
  4. Cargo is dispatched to the nearest port
  5. Empty containers after unloading are sent back to the company

In case of imports:

  1. Imported goods are sent from the nearest port to the ICD
  2. Goods are checked by the customs officials and relevant documents like Shipping Bill is verified
  3. Cargo is dispatched to the respective company

The ICD may also provide servicing and repair facilities for containers.

Advantages of Inland Container Depots

Listed below are the benefits of Inland Container Depots for an import export business:

  • Acts as a transportation hub

ICDs are transportation hubs for import and export businesses. They help store the goods and the empty containers after unloading. It acts as a transit point and consolidates cargoes assigned for LCL shipping.

  • Lower costs for import export businesses

ICDs provide all facilities including temporary storage, dispatch to port and custom clearance which ensures that the costs of exporting and importing goods remain competitive. Besides, they can also help reduce the movement of empty storage containers, leading to lower demurrage charges.

  • Reduce congestion in seaports

ICDs play an important role in reducing load on seaports by sharing the space for goods. This leads to better organisation and management of containers for exports and imports.

  • Infrastructural benefits

ICDs aids ports in managing the huge traffic of containers that get loaded and unloaded. Some of the depots offer premium facilities including trained professionals experienced at handling different types of cargo, and last-mile logistics.

  • Add on services

Repair of damaged containers is an add on service provided by ICDs. Also, storing empty containers and transporting them back to the company helps companies reduce costs. ICDs also provide customs clearance and warehousing services to import and export businesses helping the latter to outsource these tasks.

Difference between Container Freight Station and Inland Container Depot

ICD and Container Freight Station (CFS) offer containerisation of break-bulk cargo and vice versa. Here are the differences between Container Freight Station and Inland Container Depot according to Ministry of Commerce and Industries:

Inland Container Depot  Container Freight Station
Connected by rail to the respective mother port In close proximity to or adjoining the mother port and often do not have rail connectivity
Generally located in the interiors (outside the port towns) of the country away from the mother ports Off-dock facility located near the mother ports
It is a customs station that the companies use for loading and unloading cargo It is a customs station that the companies use for loading and unloading cargo
Verification of bills of entry, shipping bills, and other documents are carried out at ICDs. There are also facilities for assessment and clearance of goods, warehousing, temporary storage, etc. Only a part of the customs process, the examination of goods is carried out at the CFS

List of Inland Container Depots in India

There are numerous ICDs across India. Here is a list of the most popular ICDs for import and export businesses of the country:

ICD Address State
Thar Dry Port Barmer Road Pal Gaon Jodhpur Rajasthan
Panchi Gujara Tehsil-gannur- Sonepat Dist HR Haryana
Concor ICD Mouza-bampada, Remuna, Balasore Odisha
ICD Nagpur NR Narendra Nagar Nagpur Maharashtra
ICD Jalandhar Dhogri Road Noorpur Jalandhar Punjab
ADANI ICD Kilaraipur, Dehlon, Ludhiana Punjab
Sattva Bengaluru ICD Vemgal Indst. Area, Koorgal Karnataka
ICD Kottayam Village Nattakam, Kottayam Kerala
ICD Viramgam Bhojwa, Ahmedabad Gujarat
ICD Karur Andandkoil West, Kutkadai, Karur Tamil Nadu

Have a look at the ICEGATE website for a full list of ICD locations in India owned by both government and private entities.

As per the CBEC (now CBIC) data on active ICDs, Maharashtra has the maximum number of ICDs (13), followed by Uttar Pradesh (11), Tamil Nadu (10), Haryana (9) and Gujarat (8). Delhi has the largest ICD in India, ICD Tughlakabad. There are no ICDs in Jammu & Kashmir and there is only one ICD at Amingaon, Assam which caters to the entire north-east.

Priyanka Babu

Priyanka is a seasoned content marketing professional with more than 6 years of experience crafting various forms of business and technology sector content. Her insightful writing tackles critical issues faced by small-scale manufacturing businesses. Priyanka’s clear and concise communication empowers businesses to make informed decisions and thrive in today’s dynamic business environment.