Complete Guide to Shipping Container Size – Metric, Prices

Complete Guide to Shipping Container Size – Metric, Prices

May 27, 2022

Shipping containers are growing more popular day by day. There are different shipping containers with different sizes and therefore varying prices. In this guide, we will give you information on the different container sizes, their shipping rates, and every other thing you need to know about shipping containers.

Complete Guide to Shipping Container Size

Complete Guide to Shipping Container Size

Complete Guide to Shipping Container Size

Several reasons have contributed to the popularity of shipping containers. These reasons are:

  • Shipping a container is cost-effective
  • Shipping containers are made of steel and high-quality aluminum and are waterproof, hence safety of goods is guaranteed
  • The containers are large enough and can be used to ship heavy and bulky cargo.

The only limitation with containers is that they do not have temperature regulators, hence cannot be used to ship perishable goods. Luckily, there are special containers known as reefer containers which are used specifically for goods that are perishable and temperature-sensitive. Another special type of container is OOG (Out of Gauge). OOG containers are used to ship cargo whose shapes are unsymmetrical or they are too large to fit the normal containers.

The most commonly used containers are dry containers, which are used to carry dry cargo. 20ft and 40ft are the two common sizes of dry containers, but 10ft container sizes are also available.

Other types of containers include:

  1. Tank containers. These are cylindrical, non-corrosive containers used to ship liquids and gases.
  2. Side open containers. These are dry containers that have a door on one side of the container, for the purpose of easy loading and unloading of wide cargo.
  3. Open top containers. These are containers whose top is open to facilitate the simple loading and unloading of bulky goods. Also, if there is a shipment whose height is more than the height of normal containers, they are transported using open-top containers.
  4. Tunnel containers. These are dry containers with two doors, one at one end and another on the other end.
  5. Double doors containers. These containers are like side open containers. The difference is that for double doors containers, both sides are open.

Shipping containers are not only used for shipping cargo, they can be used to store goods, and even for housing.

Shipping Container Sizes Chart

The following chart shows the dimensions, weights, and capacity of all container sizes.

40FT HC40′8′8’6”39’5”7’5”8’10”7’8”8’5”

20ft and 40ft Containers

20ft and 40ft are the most common shipping container sizes. With the 40ft containers, there are standard 40ft containers and also 40ft high cube containers. High cube containers have an increased height hence they have a higher volume compared to the standard 40ft containers.

A 20ft shipping container weighs 2300 kilograms when empty and 25000 kilograms when fully loaded. It has a volume of 33.2 cubic meters. The dimensions of a 20ft container are as follows:

  • External length: 6.10m
  • External width: 2.44m
  • External height: 2.6m
  • Internal length: 5.9m
  • Internal width: 235m
  • Internal height: 2.39m

A 20ft container can be packed with 10 American pallets which have dimensions of 1.016m x 1.219m or 11 Euro pallets which have dimensions of 1.2m x 0.8m. The advantages of a 20ft container are:

  • The floor is made of heavy timber floor
  • The floor has lashing points that are meant for securing cargo
  • Shipping 20ft containers are cheap
  • The containers can be easily stacked on the shipping vessel
  • Production of a 20ft container is simple

A 40ft container weighs 3750 kilograms when empty and 27600 kilograms when fully loaded. It has a volume of 67.7 cubic meters. The dimensions of a 40ft container are as follows:

  • External length: 12.192m
  • External width: 2.44m
  • External height: 2.59m
  • Internal length: 12.03m
  • Internal width: 2.35m
  • Internal height: 2.39m

A 40ft container can be packed with 25 Euro pallets or 21 American pallets.

A 40ft container is advantageous since it can be used to carry more cargo hence making it more economical.

A 20ft container can be used to ship goods worth $2055 while a 40ft container can be used to ship goods worth $2992.

New Build Containers

Do you know why new build containers are in demand? New build containers come with various features that make them stronger and of very high quality.

The features of new build containers are:

  • They have steel floors that are covered with plywood
  • They have forklift pockets
  • They have lashing points to ensure that goods are safe
  • They are treated with marine-grade paint to minimize rusting
  • They are painted in any color that you choose

These features show that new build containers are durable and of high quality. They can be designed into:

  • Kitchen bars
  • Car garages
  • Shops
  • Houses
  • Offices
  • Workshops
  • Restaurants

Smallest and Largest Shipping Container Size

Some containers are smaller or larger than the common container sizes. The smallest shipping container size is 8ft. It weighs 950 kilograms. Its dimensions are as follows.

External dimensions:

  • Length: 2488mm
  • Width: 2200mm
  • Height: 2260mm

Internal dimensions:

  • Length: 2287mm
  • Width: 2112mm
  • Height: 2059mm

The largest shipping container size is the 53 high cube container.

Shipping Container Prices

Shipping Container Prices

Shipping Container Prices

Well, container shipping rates vary depending on several factors. These factors are:

1. Container Size

There are different container sizes and they definitely do not have the same rates. A 40ft container will cost more than a 20ft container. The bigger the container, the more it will cost.

2. General Rate Increase (GRI)

Ocean carriers can make an adjustment to the shipping prices. This adjustment is referred to as GRI. Whenever there is an adjustment (an increase), the prices of shipping containers also increase.

3. Time

Time is such an important factor in shipping. If you want to ship a container, you can either rent or purchase one. Renting will cost less since you will use it for a short time. Purchasing a container means that you want to use a container for a long period, hence it is expensive.

4. Shipping season

There are high seasons (when demand is high) and low seasons (when demand is low) in shipping. High seasons lead to high shipping rates, which result in an increase in the prices of shipping containers. During low seasons, the prices are down.

5. Condition of a shipping container

As a shipper, you can either decide to get a new or a used container. The prices will definitely differ. Also other conditions like age, damage, and wear and tear, will affect the prices. A shipping container will be more expensive if it is in good condition.

6. Trucking shortages

Shippers may experience trucking shortages, especially due to high demand. Whenever there are such shortages, shipping container prices go up.

7. Emergency Bunker Surcharges (EBS)

The price of fuel is one factor that is known to affect shipping rates. So, when there is an increase in fuel prices, Emergency Bunker Surcharges are made to bring balance.

8. Type of shipping container

As earlier discussed, there are various types of shipping containers. Some containers have qualities that other containers do not have. Some are used specifically for certain goods. The prices for each of these containers will vary depending on those qualities and their uses.

The following are some of the shipping container rates about their size and type.

  • Standard 20ft container: $2000
  • Standard 40ft container: $4400
  • Standard 20ft open top container: $2249
  • 20ft reefer container: $6070
  • 40ft reefer container: $5251
  • Standard 40ft high cube container: $5306

How much is a used shipping container size?

Used shipping containers do not have a fixed price. The prices vary depending on the following factors:

  1. Size of container. The price range for a used 20ft container is $1200 to $2500. For a used 40ft container, the price range is $2600 to $3300.
  2. Condition of container. A container that is not very old and has experienced fewer damages will cost more than a container that has been used for a long time and has experienced more damage. A container that has been used for only one trip costs $5000 to $6000, while a container that has been used for 2 to 8 years costs $3000 to $5000. For a container that has been used for more than 8 years, it will cost at least $1500.
  3. Are you renting or purchasing the container? If you only need the shipping container for a short period, you can rent it. You will therefore pay a monthly rent of about $75 to $200. If you decide to purchase a used shipping container, the cost will range from $1400 to $2600.

Largest shipping container size

What is the largest shipping container size? Well, the most common shipping container sizes are 20ft and 40ft. However, some containers are larger than a 40ft container size. There are 45ft, 48ft, and 53ft containers.

We can therefore state that the largest shipping container size is a 53ft High Cube container. It weighs 5020kgs when empty and 25460 when full. The following are its dimensions.

External dimensions:

  • Length: 16.15m
  • Width: 2.59m
  • Height: 2.89m

Internal dimensions:

  • Length: 16m
  • Width: 2.49m
  • Height: 2.70m

Door opening dimensions

  • Width: 2.49m
  • Height: 2.59m

Shipping container size for home

Did you know that it is possible to live in a container? I guess you are already know this due to the popularity of container houses. Containers are now being used as houses, offices, and even shops. If you want to get a shipping container for home, you have to make some considerations before purchasing one.

One of the considerations is the type of container you want. Do you want a wood container or a steel container? Wood containers are more substantial than steel containers and they can last for 30 years. Steel containers, on the other hand, can last for 20 years. In terms of cost, steel containers are cheaper as their price range is $1500 while wood containers have a price range of $2500.

Another consideration you have to look at is the size of the container you need. If you want a big house you will definitely go for a large-sized container. There are 10ft collapsible containers, 20ft standard dry containers, 40ft standard dry containers, and 53ft high cube containers. You, therefore, have to compare all these container sizes and choose what suits you best.

You also need to keep in mind that there are building codes and zoning regulations. It is important to know all these rules and regulations so as not to break them when you get a container.

What are the advantages of shipping container homes?

  • They can be portable
  • They can be easily redesigned
  • They are cost-effective
  • They are long-lasting
  • They are quick to build

What are the disadvantages of shipping container homes?

  • Shipping containers will require reinforcements
  • Sometimes they are not environmentally-friendly
  • It may be difficult to get a permit for building a container home



The availability of different shipping container sizes has made containers very common. Also, the fact that they are multipurpose is what has diversified the use of containers in several areas. Who knows? The use of shipping containers may be the next big thing in the world.


Shipping Container FAQ's

Typically, the cost of a 10-foot container ranges between $3000 and $4500.

The price of a 20ft container varies depending on the condition of the container. If the container is new, it will cost more than a used container. Also, the prices vary depending on whether you are renting the container or purchasing it. A new shipping container costs $5000 while a used one costs about $3500.

Shipping containers are very strong and durable. They are also cost-effective. Purchasing a container home is much cheaper than building a traditional home. Container homes can be portable and their construction takes a short time.

40ft containers are double the size of 20ft containers. 40ft containers have a capacity of 67.7 cubic meters while 20ft containers have a capacity of 33.2 cubic meters. Also, with 40ft containers, there are standard containers and high cube containers but there are only standard 20ft containers.

For goods with regular shapes, it can accommodate contents of a 3 bedroom or 4 bedroom house.

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