Shipping container sizes

The shipping container has become indispensable for transport of goods by international waterways, roads and railways. In addition to that, shipping containers are the ideal solution for (temporary) storage. The sizes of the shipping container are especially important when used for international transport. Before buying containers it is important to inform about the shipping container sizes and whether these match with the application you have in mind.

Do you want to know the sizes the shipping container that you own, or get to know the sizes based on a picture? Each container has a pre-fix through which it is possible to find the shipping container sizes. Visit the BIC for an overview. This page explains the numbers you can find on your container.

Standard shipping container sizes

The size of a standard shipping container is 12 x 2,3 x 2,4 m for a 40ft container. The size of a 20ft container is 5,9 x 2,4 x 2,4 m. Shipping container sizes are defined in feet. Please take into account that a standard shipping container does not really exist: each container has its own dimensions.

Below we display the average shipping container sizes for 20ft, 40ft and 40ft high cube containers. These container dimensions are displayed in the metric system (in millimeters).

20ft40ft40ft hc
Length5898 mm12032 mm12032 mm
Height2390 mm2385 mm2698 mm
Width2350 mm2345 mm2352 mm
Tare weight2.180 kg3.620 kg3.820 kg

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Length of a shipping container (meters)

The length of a shipping container is 10, 20 or 40ft. The most common length is 40 foot which is about 12 meters long. These shipping containers are mainly used for international transport. Besides that there are 20 foot containers which are about 6 meters long. The 20ft shipping container is often used at location, for storage, and are regularly spotted on trucks as well. Finally there are 10 foot containers which are 3 meters long. 10 foot shipping containers are mainly used for custom solutions such as (emergency)storage capacity on location, as they are not suitable for (international) transport of goods.

Height of a shipping container (meters)

The height of a container is an essential measure to know for loading the goods into the container. The standard height of a shipping container is 2390 millimeter (internally) and 2591 millimeter (externally). In short, a standard shipping container is 2,5 meters high. There are also high cube shipping containers which are slightly higher than the standard container. A high cube container has a height of 2896 millimeter (externally).

Weight of a shipping container (kilograms)

The weight of a shipping container is one of the most important factors of shipping container sizes, even more so in case of transportation purposes. Normally there are three weight indications of shipping containers: the maximum weight of the cargo (also called net), the maximum weight and its tare weight. Concerning container sizes, the tare weight is important. A 20ft container has a tare weight of 2.180 kg. A 40ft container has a tare weight of 3.620 kg and a 40ft HC container has a tare weight of 3.820 kg. Visit this page to read more about weights of shipping containers, reefers and flat racks.

Information about maximum cargo and maximum weight can be found under the container’s details.

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Capacity of shipping container

To know how much a container can hold, have a look at the capacity or maximum weight. The capacity of shipping containers is defined as CU. CAP or CU.M. which means the volume (m3). The capacity of a standard shipping container is 67,3 m3 (40 ft container) or 33,1m3 (20ft container). Similarly to the container sizes, also the exact capacity varies per container.

Interested in buying shipping containers?

Are you interested in buying a shipping container? Our range includes new and used shipping containers in the sizes 20ft, 40ft and 40ft high cube. We display the exact shipping container sizes on each product page. It is possible to request a quote online. Select the container you are looking for and indicate whether container modification and transportation is needed. We will come back to you with a price indication within 2 working days!

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