The shipping container is one of the most important inventions that have taken place. Since the first shipping container was produced, they have become an essential part of today’s transportation industry and are widely used by businesses. The use of standardized shipping containers has allowed goods to be shipped and delivered, easily and quickly, to nearly all corners of the world.
shipping containers have been used in different ways, and it is always beneficial to explain their various sizes and dimensions in order to enhance a better understanding of their uses. There are many different sizes and dimensions available today.
In this blog, we’ll tell you about the different kinds and container size charts of different shipping containers. Plus, we’ll tell you about which factors to consider when hiring or buying such containers.
So let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Overview of Shipping Containers
Shipping containers have revolutionized global trade by providing a secure way to transport products while keeping them organized and safe from damage or theft. Therefore, shipping containers have become an essential part of today’s transportation industry and are widely used to move everything from cars and household goods to food and industrial equipment.
These containers are also a cost-effective option for companies who need to transport products around the world. They provide an efficient way of transportation with minimal risk and maximum security.
Let’s explore more about shipping containers below!
1) What are Shipping Containers?
Shipping containers are large, standardized, durable cargo boxes that transport goods by sea, air, rail, or road. They are designed and manufactured according to the dimensions of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and provide a secure way to transport products from one place to another. They are available in various sizes and can be customized to meet the needs of any shipment.
Shipping containers are also made from various materials, including steel, aluminum, and plastic.
With the help of shipping containers, businesses can save time and money while ensuring their goods reach customers in perfect condition.
Shipping containers are a vital component of the global economy and continue to play an important role in transportation worldwide. They have revolutionized global trade and made it possible for businesses to move goods quickly and efficiently by providing a safe, secure, and cost-effective way to transport products.
2) What are the Common Terminologies Involved in Shipping Container Sizes?
Shipping containers come in various sizes and configurations, allowing for the secure transportation of goods around the globe. Understanding common shipping container sizes is essential to proper cargo planning and efficient international transport.
This section will provide an overview of common terminology related to shipping container sizes.
a) ISO – International Organization for Standardization
ISO creates many of the standards used in manufacturing and other fields. The dimensions and sizes of shipping containers are specified by ISO 668 and ISO 1496. Containers marked “ISO Shipping Containers” or “ISO Boxes” are certified to meet all international standards for shipping.
These containers are the most common type of shipping container and come in 8-foot, 10-foot, 20-foot, 40-foot, 45-foot, and 48-foot lengths. These containers are usually 8 feet 6 inches tall and feature cargo doors at one end.
Standard containers generally have a capacity of 1,360 cubic feet (38 cubic meters). These are the most common container types used to ship dry goods like electronics, machinery, grains, and paper.
It refers to transportation in many ways. Because of their efficiency and safety, intermodal containers are widely used. From ship to rail to truck, intermodal containers do not have to unload or reload their goods. A special ISO 6346 reporting mark enables you to recognize intermodal containers.
c) High Cube
High cube containers are similar to standard containers but are taller, measuring 9 feet 6 inches. This additional height increases the container’s capacity to 1,620 cubic feet (46 cubic meters).
High cube containers are available in 10-foot, 20-foot, 40-foot, and 45-foot lengths.
Just like standard containers, they can transport all types of dry cargo. But, they are extremely useful for shipping light and heavy cargo, particularly those with heights (maximum 2.70 m.)
d) Open Top
Open-top containers have a reinforced, waterproof tarpaulin on the top instead of a solid roof. The tarpaulin can be easily removed for cargo too tall to fit in a standard or high cube container.
They are available in 20-foot and 40-foot lengths with heights of 8 feet 6 inches and 9 feet 6 inches, respectively. This enables you to load big cargo, like scrap metal and timber, from the top.
e) TEU – Twenty Equivalent Unit
It’s the international standard container unit that’s used to convert between different container sizes. Without conversion, a natural container is a “physical container.” It does not matter what size the container is (40 feet, 30 feet, 20 feet, or 10 feet), they all count as one. Shipping space is sold based on the standard that TEU = 14 or 16 tonnes, and units that are overweight can’t get on board.
Reefer containers are refrigerated shipping containers that are cooled using a diesel-powered compressor. These specialized containers keep cargo at a constant temperature, making them ideal for transporting grocery items, dairy products, and other temperature-sensitive goods.
Reefer containers come in 20-foot, 40-foot, and 45-foot lengths with heights of 8 feet 6 inches or 9 feet 6 inches.
g) General Purpose (GP)
GP stands for general-purpose containers, commonly known as flat or dry containers. For example, “40GP” means standard 40-foot containers. Flat rack containers are designed for out-of-gauge cargo too large to fit in a standard container.
These containers have removable sides and ends, allowing them to be configured to accommodate cargo of any size.
Flat racks are available in 20-foot and 40-foot lengths and can also be modified as open top containers or collapsible flat rack containers.
The flat rack container is useful for storing and shipping large or bulky items such as machinery, timber, pipes, buses, and yachts.
3) Which Markings are the Primary Ones for Containers?
The primary markings that are used to identify containers include:
- UN numbers, which signify the type of product stored within;
- Hazard warning labels, which indicate the level of hazard associated with a product;
- Product-specific symbols, which provide information about the nature and characteristics of the product;
- Flags and marks, which indicate the country of origin and destination of a container or its contents;
- Registration numbers, which provide information about the container’s owner;
- Container size and weight markings, which indicate the maximum capacity of a container;
- Container capacity and portability markings provide information about the container’s ability to move.
- ISO Code
Complying with these regulations allows containers to be safely and efficiently transported between countries. This ensures goods are handled in the safest way possible and helps prevent any potential risks from occurring.
Chapter 2. What are the Types of Shipping Containers?
Shipping containers are an essential part of modern global trade. Many companies rely on these containers to transport their products worldwide, and many different types are available.
Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, making it important for those in the industry to understand what type best suits their needs.
Here is a brief overview of the various types of these containers and their uses.
1) Flat Rack Containers
A flat rack container is an open-top container made from steel or aluminum. It has no sides, allowing freight to be loaded directly onto the frame without first lifting it into an enclosed container.
This makes flat racks ideal for oversized or awkwardly-shaped items and for bulk cargo that must be loaded quickly and easily.
However, since there is no protection from the elements, this container is best suited for short-term storage and transportation needs.
Benefits of Using Flat Rack Containers:
- Increased flexibility: Flat rack containers offer considerable flexibility when stacking, thanks to their flat design. This means that items can be stacked more efficiently and securely than other containers.
- Durability and security: Flat rack containers are among the most durable types of shipping containers available in terms of material construction and design. They also come with robust locking mechanisms for added security when in transit.
- Cost-effectiveness: Flat rack containers are among the most cost-effective shipping options available, offering significant savings on cargo shipping.
- Versatility: Flat rack containers come in various sizes, making them suitable for carrying different types and sizes of cargo. This makes them an ideal solution for many types of transportation tasks.
- Improved access: The open design of flat rack containers allows for easier and faster loading and unloading, making them a great option for urgent shipments or those with tight deadlines.
2) Open Top Containers
An open-top container is similar to a flat rack container but with an added roof for protection. This container can be opened from the top or side, allowing items to be loaded and unloaded quickly and easily.
It is also ideal for oversized cargo that needs extra space and cannot fit into standard containers. The downside of open-top containers is that they offer less security since goods can be more easily accessed.
Benefits of Using Open-Top Containers:
- Affordability: Open-top containers can generally be rented or purchased at a lower cost than other cargo containers.
- Flexibility: The open design allows for easy loading and unloading, making them more flexible compared to other cargo containers.
- Versatility: Items of different shapes and sizes can be easily loaded into an open-top container.
- Safety: The open design makes it easier to inspect items for damage before and after transport, helping to ensure cargo safety.
- Protection: Open-top containers are designed with a strong metal frame that protects against weather and other environmental hazards during transport.
- Durability: The metal frame and hard top of the container make it strong and durable, providing long-term protection for cargo.
- Convenience: Open-top containers easily move from one location to another with a truck or vehicle. This makes them ideal for short-term storage or transport of items.
3) Reefer Containers
A reefer container is a temperature-controlled shipping container typically used to transport perishable goods such as food and pharmaceuticals. It has an insulated box-like structure with a self-contained refrigeration unit, allowing the temperature to be monitored and adjusted as needed.
This container is essential for protecting sensitive cargo from extreme temperatures and humidity. It can also keep items such as artwork or antiques safe during transit.
Benefits of Using Reefer Containers:
- Temperature-controlled environment: Reefer containers allow for the transportation of temperature-sensitive products, such as perishable foods and pharmaceuticals, in a controlled, temperature-regulated environment.
- Cost-effectiveness: Reefer containers are cost-effective since they can transport food and other items long distances without worrying about spoilage.
- Versatility: Reefer containers can be used to transport a variety of items, from food and beverages to medicines and electronics.
- Durability: Reefer containers are designed for long-term use and are made of strong materials such as steel or aluminum. This makes them durable enough for transportation over long distances.
- Security: Reefer containers provide an additional layer of security for the cargo in transit, as the temperature-controlled environment makes it difficult for thieves to access the goods inside.
- Eco-friendly: Reefer containers are energy efficient and help reduce waste by eliminating or reducing conventional packaging materials.
4) High Cube Containers
A high cube container is a taller version of the standard ISO shipping container, making it ideal for transporting goods that need extra height. It measures 9’6″ high, which is 3 feet taller than a standard ISO container.
This container offers flexibility for those who need to transport tall or bulky items, such as large furniture or industrial equipment.
Benefits of Using High Cube Containers:
- Higher volume: High Cube containers offer an additional foot of headroom, making them a great choice for a larger capacity.
- Durability: High Cube containers are highly durable and have excellent weather resistance due to their corrugated steel construction.
- Security: The extra height helps to make them more secure than standard containers, providing an added layer of protection from theft or damage.
- Versatility: High Cube containers are also versatile, making them suitable for various uses such as storage, shipping, and more.
- Cost-effective: Due to their high-volume capacity, they can offer an economical solution compared to buying multiple standard containers.
- Ease of access: The extra height helps to make them easier to access, making loading and unloading cargo a breeze.
- Space-saving: Their high-volume capacity allows them to store more items in the same space, so they are a great option for those looking to save on storage costs.
5) Tank Containers
A tank container is specifically designed to transport liquids and gases safely and securely. It is typically made from stainless steel and insulated to protect the contents from extreme temperatures.
Tank containers are ideal for companies transporting large quantities of liquids, such as oil and gasoline, over long distances.
Benefits of Using Tank Containers:
- Cost-effective: Tank containers are a cost-effective option for transporting liquids. They are lightweight and flexible, which helps to reduce operating costs.
- Efficient: Transportation of liquid products with tank containers is efficient as it can be loaded quickly and transported without needing to switch containers between different modes of transport. This saves time and money.
- Versatile: Tank containers can be used to transport a variety of liquids, including fuel, chemical, and food products. They are also able to withstand extreme temperatures and provide secure transportation.
- Sustainable: Tank containers have a long lifespan when properly maintained and can provide sustainable transportation solutions by reducing the number of trips needed to transport goods. This helps to lower the environmental impact of transportation.
- Safe: Tank containers are designed for the safe and secure transportation of liquids, with features such as leak-proof closures and anti-corrosion coatings that help keep products secure during transit.
These are just some of the most common types of shipping containers on the market today. Understanding which type best suits your needs is essential for any business transporting goods worldwide. With a wide selection of containers available, you can find one that fits your specific shipping requirements.
Chapter 3. Sizes and Dimensions of Shipping Containers
There are a variety of shipping containers that come in different sizes for the fulfillment of specific functions. Their sizes vary concerning the type of shipments they carry. Apart from their variable size dimensions, they also fulfill the safety measures for the secured shipment of goods.
Here is a list of some renowned and compatible shipping containers with their distinct sizes and dimensions.
1) 10-foot Standard Shipping Container Dimensions
The 10 ft. standard shipping containers are extremely useful in the storage and transportation of small quantities of goods. They are half the size of a standard 20ft shipping container. They are cheaper than 20 ft. shipping containers.
10 feet shipping containers are an excellent option for small families and students. A single 10-ft container can easily hold the accessories of one bedroom flat. It has a 561 cubic meter volume, which makes it more accommodating than an 8-ft shipping container.
The Tare weight of a 10 ft. shipping container is 2850 lbs., whereas its gross weight is 22360 lbs.
Container Size Chart:
2) 20-foot Container Dimensions
A 20 ft. shipping container s well-known for its maneuverable size and lower weight. It is also known as GP or General Purpose container. It provides multiple loading options for you. You can place large items in it or make tiny sections to accommodate small-sized goods or cartons.
They are relatively inexpensive than the 40-ft containers. A 20-ft shipping container allows you to fit the contents of a 3-4 bedroom house, including furniture, domestic appliances, kitchenware, etc. Moreover, you can also load two SUV cars on a regular 20-ft container for transportation.
A 20-ft container has a tare weight of approximately 4914 lbs. and a gross weight of 52813 lbs.
Container Size Chart:
3) 20-foot High Cube Container Dimensions
A 20-foot high cube container is one foot more heightened than a standard 20 feet shipping container. However, the rest of the dimensions are the same as a regular 20-foot container. The higher ceiling 20-ft high cube containers enhances the overall interior area and uncovers the whole design of the container.
You can use a 20-foot high cube container for shipping goods that cannot be loaded on a regular 20-ft container due to their extra height. Generally, High Cube containers are more expensive than standard containers of the same length.
High Cube shipping containers are safe, secure, and weather-resistant. They ship and store the cargo safely without causing any harm.
Its tare weight is 4629 lbs., and its gross weight is about 67196 lbs.
Container Size Chart:
4) 20-foot Refrigerated Container Dimensions
A refrigerated container is also known as a reefer container. A 20-ft refrigerated or reefer container has the same dimensions as a 20-ft standard container. However, a 20-foot reefer container has additional insulating and cooling units. The already installed refrigeration machinery in a 20-ft reefer container differentiates it from other shipping containers of the same size.
A 20-ft refrigerated container requires an undisturbed electricity supply to perform its function. Freight forwarders use reefer containers for shipping delicate goods under a controlled temperature, such as food material and medicines. They have cooling units that control the temperature inside the container.
Their tare weight is about 6400 lbs., and their gross weight is almost 60800 lbs.
Container Size Chart:
5) 40-foot Container Dimensions
The 40-ft container, also known as a 40-ft General Purpose container, is a commonly used shipping container. They have vast storage space, and you can use that space to make a one-bedroom home by sectioning.
The lower ceiling height is the only issue with a 40-foot shipping container. Their lower ceiling height may not give you a reasonable vertical length after interior insulation. Moreover, a 40-foot container can fulfill your requirement if you consider purchasing two 20-foot containers.
The 40-foot shipping containers get more recognition and preference in the container architecture world. You can also use them as studio apartments in populated cities.
The tare weight of a 40-foot shipping container is 8333 lbs., and its gross weight is 58863 lbs.
Container Size Chart:
6) 40-foot High Cube Container Dimensions
A 40-foot high cube container has the same external and internal width and length as a 4-foot standard container but varies in height. It is one foot more heightened than a standard shipping container of the same size. Therefore, this container is the best option if you want a 40-foot regular container with one foot more vertical space.
However, if you use it as a container home, its 1-foot additional height will also benefit you by offering extra volume for insulation. Due to their additional heights, the 40-ft high cube shipping containers can easily transport oversized cargoes that do not fit well in a 40-foot standard container.
Their tare weight is 8750 lbs., whereas their gross weight is approximately 58450 lbs.
Container Size Chart:
7) 40-foot Refrigerated Container Dimensions
If you want a 40-foot shipping container for transporting delicate goods such as food items or medicines, a 40-ft reefer container is the most appropriate option. It features excellent built-in insulation and cooling system with the same goods holding capacity as a 40-foot standard shipping container.
You can use a 40-foot shipping container for storing and moving temperature-sensitive goods and chemicals. It has an industrial refrigeration unit and a built-in insulation system to maintain the internal temperature and safely deliver goods.
The tare weight of a 40-foot reefer container is 10780 lbs, and its total gross weight is 56420 lbs.
Container Size Chart:
8) 40-foot Refrigerated High Cube Container Dimensions
If you want a 40-foot reefer container with an extra 1-ft height, then a 40-foot refrigerated high cube container will work the best. They allow you to load more quantities of sensitive items (fruits, vegetables, and medicines) than a standard 40 feet refrigerated container. It is almost 30 cm higher than a regular 40-ft reefer container.
Moreover, they offer a higher ceiling space and entrance opening when making office rooms or bachelor homes.
The tare weight of a single 40-foot high cube reefer container is 10490 lbs., and the gross weight is about 64470 lbs.
Container Size Chart:
9) 45-foot High Cube Container
A 45-foot high cube container is the most distinct and unique type of container as compared to other container varieties. It has a 2.5ft long extension on each side across its length making it 5 feet lengthier than an ordinary 40 ft high cube container. Its extensions also have corner castings that help the freight forwarders to assemble it with 40-ft containers.
Generally, all 45 feet containers are high cubes with an extra foot of height providing more space to carry oversized items.
The Gross weight of a 45 feet high container is 56620 lbs., and its Tare weight is 10580 lbs.
Container Size Chart:
10) 48-foot High Cube Container Dimensions
A 48-foot high cube shipping container is a rare type of container and has a slightly irregular size. It is 6.25% more lengthy than a 45-ft high cube container. The majority of 48-ft containers are high cubes with an extra foot of vertical length for accommodating huge items that cannot be placed in a regular 48-foot shipping container.
Unlike the 45-foot high cube containers, the 48-foot high cube containers have many sets of container corner castings. Their one set of corner casting at the container’s end and one set 40 feet apart enable you to stack them with 40-ft containers. They offer 8 feet more length and 6 inches more width than a standard 40-ft shipping container.
Its gross weight is 56280 lbs., and the tare weight is 10920 lbs.
Container Size Chart:
11) 53-foot High Cube Container Dimensions
A 53-foot high cube container is another less common type of container. It is the largest shipping container 6 inches wider and 13 feet longer than a typical 40-foot container. It also has 40 feet apart corner castings like the 48-foot high cube containers.
A 53-ft high cube container has two equal extensions at each end. Each of its extensions is 5 feet long. Such huge containers are most common in North America. Previously they were used for domestic shipments, but now they are sturdy and strong enough to be used for ocean travel.
One thing to take into notice before buying 53-foot high cube containers is that they do not fully match ISO Standards. However, the Association of American Railroads provides standards for such tremendous shipping containers.
Its Tare weight is almost 11070 lbs. while its Gross weight is 56130 lbs.
Container Size Chart:
12) 40-foot Pallet Wide High Cube Container Dimensions
40-foot Pallet Wide High Cube containers have relatively more width than the standard 40-foot and 45-foot shipping containers. Though they are not wider than 48-foot and 53-foot high cube shipping containers. Their extra width allows you to fit euro pallets as well.
The size of standard pallets in the US is 1219 mm × 10166 mm, whereas the euro pallets are 800 mm × 1200 mm. A 40-foot Pallet Wide High Cube container has the capacity of holding up to 30 euro pallets. Its tare weight is 8636 lbs. and the gross weight is 63015 lbs.
Container Size Chart:
Chapter 4. Which Factors to Consider when Hiring or Buying Shipping Containers?
More people are buying and using cargo containers. Shipping containers are used for storage, construction, and more. It may seem easy to choose. But for many different purposes, you could need a different container to satisfy your demands properly.
These containers range in width and height. How will you choose from all the options? This section gives tips to help you choose.
Following are some things you might want to consider:
1) Container Size
First things first, calculate the size of the container that is required. You will need a strategy for what you will put in the container. Buy one huge container instead of multiple small ones. Check the weight capacity of your selected container to be sure it can handle your load. People often use 20ft(6m) and 40ft(12m) long containers since they are widely accessible and used in the freight sector.
2) Quality Of the Container
Check the quality of the shipping container you’re going to hire. Take your time inspecting the unit from top to bottom to ensure it meets all your requirements.
Look for sturdiness and durability to withstand extreme weather conditions and holes or cracks that might lead to damaged items while checking.
3) Duration of Usage
Another consideration is how long you want to use the container, especially if you need to hire rather than purchase. All you have to do is choose a time with the container rental provider and specify the estimated period of the container’s use.
When renting a container, it is a good idea to prolong the rental duration beyond the time you expect to use it. So, if you need to use the container for longer than you thought, you still have time.
Container suppliers can give discounts for longer-term rentals, making container hiring an affordable choice.
4) Conduct a Security Check
A security check is required when renting a container. The most dangerous part of the container is the door, but ensure the whole thing is safe from unauthorized access.
Look for a lockbox attached to the door to make sure the padlock can’t be changed without authorization. When renting a container, you should talk to the company about your insurance needs.
In addition, be sure that the insurance covers any hazards connected to the stock of products that are being kept or transferred while you are using the container.
5) Prepare Delivery Site
When working with a container service provider, advise them about the kind of site access you have, as this will help them arrange delivery of your shipping container. Notify them if your location has any obstacles, such as overhanging trees or electrical lines, so they can prepare to transport your container safely.
Allow enough space for the vehicle to load and unload the container easily.
6) Hire a Sourcing Company for Worry-Free Purchases
Working with a professional sourcing company is the best way to ensure worry-free purchases when sourcing products from overseas. If you want to source quality products from China and you do not know much about shipping or containers then you must hire a sourcing company.
Sourcing companies have the expertise and resources to help you navigate the complicated import process and protect your interests throughout the entire procurement process.
Above all, a reliable sourcing company such as EJET can provide valuable insight into foreign markets, helping you avoid potential pitfalls and protect your investments. Our familiarity with the overseas market can help you find the best possible suppliers, negotiate favorable terms and conditions, and secure high-quality products at competitive prices.
In addition to providing product sourcing services, we can also help ensure that all your products comply with safety regulations and other applicable standards.
You will benefit from comprehensive tracking and reporting when working with EJET. This ensures that all aspects of the procurement process are handled properly and helps ensure a seamless transition from order placement to delivery. Furthermore, you can save time and money by outsourcing your sourcing needs to us.
So why not? You can contact our sourcing consultant Sunny Qiu and she will guide you through the whole process over a free consultation call. Book your call now!
Chapter 5. FAQs about Shipping Container Size Chart
1) What’s the difference between a General Purpose and a High Cube?
A High Cube container has an additional foot of external height than a General Purpose container. Their internal sizes also vary. The increased height of High Cube containers allows 10-15% more shipment loading than a General Purpose container.
A GP or General Purpose container is 2.6 taller externally, whereas the external height of a High Cube container is 2.9 meters. Moreover, the internal size of a High Cube container is 2.7 meters, slightly more than a GP container which is only 2.4 meters high.
2) Is a 20ft shipping container as tall as a 40ft shipping container?
Yes, a 20-ft shipping container has precisely the same height as a 40-ft shipping container. Just their lengths vary in sizes.
3) What Sizes do shipping containers come in?
Shipping containers come in different sizes. Generally, standard storage containers come in 10-ft, 20-ft, and 40-ft measurements. Some larger high cube containers have extended heights. They come in 45-foot, 48-foot, and 53-foot size varieties.
Most individuals and companies use standard storage containers for on-site storage. They use such containers to transport tools, raw materials, furniture, and machinery. In contrast, you can use the high cube shipping containers to ship heavy machinery and automobiles that do not fit well in standard storage containers.
4) What are portable storage containers?
Portable storage containers are large, weatherproof, and moveable boxes used to store domestic goods. You can use portable storage containers for holding household materials during home renovations. You can also use them to accommodate bulky items to free up space at your workplace.
Portable storage containers come in different sizes and dimensions. Their standard sizes are 10 ft, 20 ft, and 40 ft. However, you can also custom-design smaller storage containers as per your requirements.
5) How many pallets can you fit in a 40-ft container?
Different countries use different-sized pallets in containers for optimal shipment of goods. You can fit 20 to 21 standard pallets (used across Europe and Asia) in a 40 ft container. Moreover, you can place up to 20 North American Standard pallets in a 40 feet container.
However, euro pallets (used all over Europe) are smaller than standard pallets. A regular 40 feet container can hold 23 to 24 euro pallets.
Shipping containers are a great, cost-effective, and efficient option for transporting goods. They provide a reliable and damage-resistant way to send goods and products via land, sea, or air. By using a suitable shipping container, your items can remain safe and secure throughout their transportation.
The information given in this article will help you to get detailed knowledge about shipping containers and their sizes. If you have any further queries regarding buying from China, feel free to reach out to us.