Shipping Container Dimensions explained (with container size charts)

Shipping containers are the structures that store various kinds of products that need to be shipped from one part of the world to another. Shipping containers have several advantages over any other type of transportation or storage. They are fast, cheap, secure, and best of all, versatile. All Shipping Container Dimensions are explained in the below expert size chart. Containers are measured with three numbers that respectively represent length, breadth, and height. The length is limited to three major options which are 20 feet, 40 feet, and 45 feet. In case you hear of a 20ft container or a 40ft container, that is the length being mentioned. As for the other dimensions, we first need to get deeper into shipping containers.

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Container Units and their sizes

There are about 20 types of shipping containers. Some of the most common and international standard types of shipping containers in use today are mentioned below. 

1. Standard Dry Containers: The most commonly used shipping containers. They come in various dimensions standardized by the International Standards Organization (ISO). They are used for shipping of dry materials and come in the lengths of 20-foot shipping containers, 40-ft shipping container and even 10 ft containers. These are the general-purpose containers with identical exact dimensions allowing them to be used as ocean freight containers. Standardized containers are equipped with shipping container cargo doors. These are steel doors with the structural integrity to hold in heavy items with no issues during shipping.

2. Flat Rack Containers: These are standard containers with collapsible sides. Because the sides can be folded so as to make a flat rack, a wide variety of goods can easily be loaded onto it sideways.

3. Open Top Containers: These are standard containers with a convertible top that can be completely removed to make an opening that allows materials of any height to be shipped easily.

4. Tunnel Containers: These are standard containers with doors on both ends. This allows for the quick loading and offloading of goods. It is mostly used for several small scale items that would otherwise take time to load from just one door.

5. Open Side Storage Containers: These are standard containers with the container doors on their sides instead of ends. The much wider doors on the sides provide a much wider space to load items.

6. Double Doors Containers: These are ISO standards with doors on one end and one side. They are best used for long thing items like steel beams and wooden planks.

7. Refrigerated Containers: This is a cargo container that are temperature regulated and always have a carefully controlled low temperature. They are used for shipment of perishable cargo like fruits and vegetables. They are also called reefer containers.

8. Insulated/Thermal Containers: These are standard containers that are temperature regulated and always have a carefully controlled high temperature. They are the functional opposite of the fridge containers. These two container types are international shipping containers that have designed to survive the marine environment of cargo ships.

9. Tank Containers: These are drum like containers. They are a large barrel with no square foot of straight lines of open space. The container load for this type of shipping container is usually liquid concentrates of fluids that don’t qualify as hazardous cargo.

Containers can transport both dangerous liquid substances such as hydrocarbons and acids as well as solid products such as metals and farm produce. This makes it very flexible and versatile in transporting goods all over the world. There are even smaller containers like the 12-foot container for small loads of goods.

How To Choose The Right Size Shipping Container.

Shipping containers provide the best protection of goods. Once all the goods are loaded into the container, it is sealed completely. This prevents any foreign objects from coming into the container. This is great for cargoes especially if the contents are raw materials or food. It is an effective method of maintaining the quality of the goods even in marine environment. It is also a way to protect cargo from potentially harmful temperatures, theft, and other hazards while in transit. Most containers are made of sturdy, durable metal frames to completely protect its contents from deterioration, loss, and theft. All of these advantages are best achieved only when the right size and type of container is employed.

There is a simple procedure to determine the size of container you need. As for the type of container, that depends on the type of cargo that you are shipping. Follow the procedure below to ease your sizing up of containers

Step 1: Use a tape measure, and measure the length, width, and height of the carton, box, bag or whatever you want to put inside the container.

Step 2: Multiply the length, width, and height of a box to determine the volume.

Step 3: If your shipment has a variety of sizes and shapes, simply calculate the volume for a single box, convert it to cubic feet (or metres), then multiply by the number of boxes.

Step 4: Weigh your goods and know how heavy they are. 

Step 5: Finally check our charts below and pick a container that is large enough for your goods to enter, and also sturdy enough to hold the weight of the goods.

shipping container sizes and dimensions
shipping container sizes and dimensions

Shipping Container dimensions Size Chart In Imperial Units

Container Identification20Ft40Ft40Ft High Cube45Ft High Cube
Exterior Dimensions (Feet)20×8×940×8×940×8×9.645×8×9.6
Interior Dimensions (Feet)19×8×839×7×739×8×944×8×9.6
Door Size  (Feet)8×88×88×99×8
Volume (Cubic Feet)1169238526603040
Empty Weight (Pounds)4,8508,3808,59810,580
Maximum Weight (Pounds)66,13966,13968,00866,139
Load capacity(Pounds)61,28957,75958,59855,559

Shipping Container Size Chart In Metric Units

Container Identification20Ft40Ft40Ft High Cube45Ft High Cube
Exterior Dimensions (Metres)6×2.4×2.612×2.4×2.612×2.4×2.914×2.4×2.9
Interior Dimensions (Metres)5.8×2.3×2.412×2.3×2.312×2.3×2.714×2.3×2.7
Door Size (Metres)2.3×2.32.3×2.32.7×2.32.3×2.6
Volume (Cubic Meters)33.167.575.386.1
Empty Weight (Kg)2200380039004800
Maximum Weight (Kg)30,40030,40030,84830,400
Load capacity (Kg)28,20026,60026,58025,600

Shipping containers dimensions explained

Explaining the sizes of Shipping containers dimensions by Container Guider


Container manufacturers make ISO shipping containers for different types of cargo for container ships. Bulk cargoes might be shipped by bulk containers with forklift pockets. Heavy cargo that requires a large container volume might not fit into a regular container with standard shipping container dimensions. The type of container that best suits height cargo is tall shipping containers that are at least a foot taller than the popular choice of intermodal shipping containers. These sizes of shipping containers can be so different that they become cube containers with large cubic capacities. A good example is the 53-foot containers that are pretty much square footage of a twenty-foot equivalent unit.

International standards can guide any container owner to decide the container dimensions of entire containers.

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