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How Much Does A Shipping Container Weigh?

  • General
20th December 2022

The weight of a container will depend on a number of different factors. To find out how much your container weights, you’ll need to check the tare weight. Tare weight means the weight of an empty container.

Shipping containers are available in a range of sizes, as well as different types of containers such as tunnel or side opening, and this of course means that the tare weight of a container will vary accordingly.

The exact tare weight of a container is listed on the container doors, so you’ll be able to clearly see how much your individual container will weight when empty. Having said that, the tare weight of standard ISO container is generally within a certain value so you can have an approximate idea of the weight of the empty container before you buy or hire it.

Standard ISO Shipping Container Weights

Let’s take a look at the approximate weights of standard ISO shipping containers:

  • A 10ft shipping container weighs in the region of 1 tonne
  • A 20ft shipping container weighs in the region of 1.8 tonne to 2.2 tonne 
  • A 40ft shipping container weighs in the region of 3.8 tonne to 4.2 tonne

There are other variables to consider when thinking about how heavy a container is. High cube containers, for example, will weigh more than a standard container as they have an extra foot of height and therefore extra metal to account for in the weight. The age of the container can also affect how heavy it is. As manufacturing methods improve, factories can make high quality containers with less metal so they’re lighter.

Container Weight – How to Move Containers On-site

Knowing how much a container weighs is important when you’re thinking about moving it. For delivery you need to consider if there are any weight restrictions on the road or on the delivery site itself. 

Once its onsite, your container needs to be offloaded onto solid, hardstanding ground. With this in mind it’s important to account for weight of the delivery vehicle AND the empty container to make sure your delivery can get to site safely. 

There might be occasions when you need to move your container around site after delivery. Due to their weight, containers are not the easiest to move around – but there are options.

The majority of delivery companies will have their own equipment to load, unload, and move the unit, such as a hiab lorry that has an on-board crane. If you don’t have a crane, an alternative is a forklift truck.

Do bear in mind that a small, regular-sized forklift will not normally be able to move a container, and may end up damaging itself or the unit by putting pressure on weaker points. Before lifting, make sure your forklift can handle the weight of a container, and the container itself has appropriate fork pockets to be lifted with.

Another way to move a container is using a tilted bed trailer. This will involve backing the trailer up to the container and fully tilt the trailer to then slide the container on. This is much easier to do when the container is empty so the contents don’t move when the unit is tilted. 

Moving a container can be tricky as they are heavy and you will need specific equipment to do the job properly. If you’re unsure about container placement, or need more information on container weights before purchasing, then get in touch with our sales team for guidance.

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