The length of a shipping container is expressed in feet (ft.). There is actually no such thing as a standard shipping container. The size of a shipping container is expressed in 40ft or 20ft, but the exact dimensions differ. The most common dimensions are 12 x 2.3 x 2.4 meters (40ft.) or 5.9 x 2.4 x 2.4 meters (20ft.).
The following table shows the average dimensions of the 8ft, 10ft, 20ft, 20ft HC (high cube), 40ft and 40ft HC containers. These are averages, as the exact dimensions may vary per container.
Below you can find the inside dimensions of standard shipping containers.
|20ft High Cube
|40ft High Cube
|Weight empty container (tare)
|Maximun loading with
International container transport is based on 20ft containers, which is 1 TEU - 'Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit'. This is actually a small shipping container.
The most commonly used container is the 40ft container, for example on a truck. 2 TEU, so it can also be handled with the handling equipment for 20ft containers.
For the European market, we also work with 45ft containers a lot. It's actually an extended 40ft container, just a bit bigger. Built in a way that this container can also be handled with standard handling infrastructure.
The container also comes in a high cube variant, extra height for the really big jobs. This way, even more pallets can be transported during a service. More space and still usable on a normal trailer, wagon or inland vessel.
A 40ft container is one of the larger containers in terms of size. It is mainly used for storage of goods, but also for intermodal transport or shipping.
The dimensions of a 40ft shipping container are: 12.2 x 2.44 x 2.59 meter.
Shipping container 40ft
The 20 ft container is the most standard and therefore most commonly used container in terms of size. The 20ft container is used for shipping goods, but also for storage or for example a move.
The dimensions of a 20ft shipping container are: 6.06 x 2.44 x 2.59 meters.
Shipping container 20ft
10 ft containers are often used when there is limited space available or when only a small amount of goods need to be transported or stored. They are exactly half the size of a 20 ft container, which is roughly the size of half a single-car garage.
The dimensions of a 10ft shipping container are: 2.99 x 2.44 x 2.59 meters.
Dimensions of an 8ft shipping container: 2.44 x 2.20 x 2.26 meters.
Dimensions of a 6ft shipping container: 1.98 x 1.95 x 1.91 meters.
Shipping and storage containers come in various lengths: 6ft, 8ft, 10ft, 20ft, and 40ft.
The 20ft and 40ft shipping containers are the most common container lengths (outer length), and their standard width is 2.44 meters. The height of a container is usually 2.6 meters, and a high cube container is one foot taller and is 2.9 meters high.
The length of a shipping container can be 6ft, 8ft, 10ft, 20ft, or 40ft. The most common length is 40ft, which is over 12 meters long. These large containers are mainly used for international transport by road or water.
There are also 20ft containers, which are slightly over 6 meters long. These are smaller containers that are often used for on-site storage and can also be placed on trucks.
Finally, there are 10ft containers, which are only 3 meters long. Because these containers are so small, they are often used for special solutions, such as (emergency) on-site storage.
A standard shipping container has a maximum width of 2.5 meters. Standard shipping containers of 10ft, 20ft, and 40ft have an interior width of 2.35 meters.
Special containers, known as Pallet Wide Containers, are about 5 cm wider and are designed for optimal transport of goods on Euro pallets. This special type of container can fit three pallets side by side.
A standard shipping container of 10ft, 20ft, and 40ft has an interior height of 2.39 meters. In addition, there is also the High Cube container, which is a standard container with normal dimensions but raised by about 30 cm. The most commonly used High Cube containers are the 20ft High Cube and the 40ft High Cube.
The High Cube container is only slightly raised but has much more loading space as a result. With a 40ft container, there is about 8.5 m³ more loading space. However, note that the maximum load weight often does not increase (sometimes even decreases due to the greater weight of the empty container), as the container's structure would have to be reinforced.
Shipping container dimensions
The weight of a shipping container is determined by its construction. Storage containers, for example, are built with a lower weight than containers for shipping. The weight of an empty shipping container is often referred to as "tare weight." The maximum load capacity depends on the type of container.
The exact tare weight of an individual shipping container must be indicated on the container doors. However, container weights vary and these estimated weights apply only to standard dry containers. Some (very) old shipping containers may slightly exceed the above weights, while newer containers are generally slightly lighter. This is because container manufacturers can build shipping containers with the same strength but less metal thanks to newer manufacturing techniques.
Tare weight, sometimes called empty weight, is the weight of an empty vehicle or container. It is common to determine the tare weight of the product based on the gross weight. However, this method can be inaccurate when calculating the weight of a whole truck, for example, because other variables such as fuel are involved.
The volume of a shipping container is expressed in cubic meters (m³).
The volume of a 40ft container is 67.8m³.
A standard dry 20ft container has a volume of 33.2 m³.
A 10ft container has a volume of 15.5m³.
An 8ft container has a volume of 9.9m³.
A 6ft container has a volume of 6m³.
A standard container is the most common type of container on the market. It is usually made of steel and, in newer types, sometimes of aluminum. Containers made of aluminum weigh less themselves and therefore have a slightly higher load capacity.
Generally, containers are airtight and waterproof, preventing potential negative influences from outside, such as rain (moisture).
Standard containers, also called dry containers, can transport most types of dry cargo, such as boxes, pallets, bags, barrels, etc. They can be customized inside to transport a specific type of cargo. This can be done by placing partitions, called shoring.
In addition to standard shipping containers, there is also a wide range of special containers available on the market. For example, reefers, in which goods can be stored or transported at a controlled temperature. Environmental containers for hazardous materials that meet strict requirements for transporting dangerous goods. Some types can be loaded by a forklift from the side. Often, there is also ventilation, a drip tray for liquids, and the containers are extra fire-resistant. There are also insulated containers that prevent condensation from forming inside, which is ideal for transporting delicate goods under controlled conditions.
And what about developments in the field of tank containers? These are tanks built into a 20ft shipping container frame, allowing for intermodal transport of liquids by rail, truck, and ship. Think of food, chemicals, or gas. These tank containers are subject to very strict international conditions that guarantee the safety of the tanks.
Containers are no longer used solely for storage and transport. How about a popup store built from containers? Due to the sturdy construction of the container, it can be set up and removed in no time. Perfect for temporary housing. Or what about use at large festivals and concerts? Convert one or more connected containers into a catering pavilion and add reefer containers to store food and drink. A little further away are some sanitation containers, specially equipped with toilet blocks or even a shower. The sanitation container only needs a drainage and connection to electricity and cold water.
Containers also offer possibilities for tourism. Building vacation homes on a park is a major undertaking, both logistically and financially. Nowadays, containers can be excellently converted into mini-homes with all the necessary amenities. Choose two connected containers if you want to offer more space to guests. The great advantage is the construction time on the site itself. The containers are converted into homes in a workshop and then transported to the destination by truck. Set them up and you're ready to go. No inconvenience, and they can be removed or relocated if the season is over.
Do you have big plans? Need multiple new or used shipping containers for your business? Then perhaps we can help each other out. Calculate your lease price in the lease calculator or find more contact information below.
Clark van Oeveren
Lease Officer Containers and Port Equipment
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