ISO 17712: The Container Security Seals International Standard

ISO 17712 is a globally recognized standard for mechanical security seals used in shipping containers. The standard specifies the requirements for security seals that are intended to be used as an indicative seal for international shipments, and provides a standardized method for testing and certifying security seals to ensure their effectiveness. 

What is ISO 17712?

ISO 17712 is a standard created by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which outlines the requirements for designing and testing security seals that are used to secure containers in international trade. It was initially released in 2006 and has undergone multiple revisions to stay current with industry changes and advancements in technology.

The standard encompasses various aspects of container security seals, such as their design, construction, certification through testing, as well as instructions for handling and using them properly.

Why is ISO 17712 Important?

ISO 17712 is important because it sets a global standard for container security seals. This helps ensure that all parties involved in international trade understand what constitutes an acceptable seal and can trust that their cargo will arrive at its destination intact. Without a standardized approach to container security seals, shippers may use lower quality or inferior seals that are easier to break or remove. This can lead to cargo theft or tampering and put supply chains at risk.

Types of Security Seals

There are three types of security seals defined by ISO 17712:

Indicative Seals

Indicative seals are designed to show evidence of tampering but do not offer high levels of physical security. These seals may be made from plastic or metal materials and can be easily removed without tools. Barrier Seals Barrier seals are designed to provide higher levels of physical security than indicative seals. These seals require tools to remove and may be made from steel or other strong materials.

High-Security Seals

High-security seals are designed to provide the highest levels of protection against tampering. These seals are tested and certified to meet certain strength and durability requirements defined by ISO 17712. They are typically made from heavy-duty steel and require specialized tools for removal.

Tamper Evidence

Tamper evidence is a critical aspect of container security seals. Seals must be designed in such a way that any attempts to remove or tamper with them will leave clear evidence. ISO 17712 defines several types of tamper-evidence, including:

  • Frangible: Seals that break into pieces when removed.
  • Voiding: Seals that leave behind a visible mark or message when removed.
  • Destructive: Seals that cannot be removed without causing visible damage. Seal Testing and Certification To ensure that security seals meet the standards set forth by ISO 17712, they must undergo testing and certification by an accredited third-party laboratory. Testing includes assessments of seal strength, durability, resistance to environmental conditions, and tamper-evidence. Only seals that pass these tests receive certification and can be labeled as compliant with ISO 17712.

The Three Levels of Security ISO 17712

The Three Levels of Security ISO 17712 includes three levels of security, indicated by the letters “H”, “M”, and “L”. These levels are based on the level of security provided by the seal and the requirements for testing and certification. H (High Security): Seals that meet the highest level of security requirements, including tamper-evident features, anti-spin mechanisms, and high-strength materials. H seals must undergo rigorous testing and certification to meet the standard. M (Medium Security): Seals that provide a moderate level of security and are typically used for low- to medium-risk shipments. M seals must also undergo testing and certification to meet the standard, but the requirements are less stringent than for H seals. L (Low Security): Seals that provide a basic level of security and are suitable for low-value or low-risk shipments. L seals do not require testing or certification, but they must still meet certain basic requirements for design and construction.

Testing and Certification

Testing and certification to ISO 17712 ensures that the seals meet the required standards for security and quality. Here are some of the key aspects of ISO 17712 testing and certification: 

  • Physical testing: ISO 17712 requires that security seals undergo a series of physical tests to ensure that they are tamper-evident and resistant to various forms of attack, such as cutting, twisting, and pulling. These tests include tensile strength tests, impact tests, shear tests, and environmental tests.
  • Traceability: ISO 17712 requires that security seals be marked with a unique identification number to ensure traceability and prevent counterfeiting. This number must be clearly visible and legible, and it must be impossible to remove or alter without evidence of tampering.


Independent certification bodies evaluate security seals against the requirements of the standard and then issue a certificate of conformity if they meet the necessary criteria. This certification process is conducted by third-party organizations, which ensures impartiality and objectivity during evaluation.

By obtaining ISO 17712 certification, users of security seals can have confidence that they are using high-quality products that have been tested to comply with the standard. This provides assurance that the seals will perform their intended function of securing containers during international trade, thus reducing the risk of tampering or theft.


Conclusion ISO 17712 is an important international standard for container security seals. It provides guidelines for manufacturers to ensure their products meet certain requirements related to strength, durability, and tamper-evidence. By using ISO 17712-compliant security seals, shippers can help protect their cargo from theft, tampering, or terrorism during transit. This helps promote secure global trade and protects supply chains from disruption. When selecting security seals for your shipping containers, it’s essential to choose those that comply with ISO 17712 standards.

Challenges and Limitations

 While ISO 17712 has become a widely recognized and accepted standard for mechanical security seals used in shipping containers, there are still some challenges and limitations associated with the standard

Limited scope: ISO 17712 is focused specifically on mechanical security seals used in shipping containers, and does not address other security measures or potential security risks in the supply chain. This means that companies may need to adopt additional security measures to supplement the use of ISO 17712 compliant security seals.

Cost: ISO 17712 compliant security seals can be more expensive than non-compliant seals, which can be a barrier to adoption for some companies. In addition, the cost of third-party certification can also add to the overall cost of using ISO 17712 compliant security seals. Limited applicability: ISO 17712 is primarily applicable to shipping containers and may not be suitable for other types of shipments or applications. Companies that need to secure other types of assets may need to adopt different security measures or standards. Despite these challenges and limitations, ISO 17712 remains an important standard for enhancing the security and integrity of international shipments. Companies that use ISO 17712 compliant security seals can benefit from increased confidence in the security of their supply chain and improved compliance with international regulations.

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