What size Shipping Container do I need?

Shipping containers are used to transport goods all around the world. They are sturdy, durable, and provide a reliable way to transport items safely to your chosen destination. There are several different types of containers available in a range of styles and sizes. The most common shipping containers in circulation range from 10ft to 40ft and are typically used to transport dry goods. It is crucial that you carefully consider the volume of goods you’re transporting to determine the size of container needed to accommodate them. If you purchase goods and later realise they are slightly over capacity, you will need to pay for a larger container, which may incur a large, unnecessary cost. Fortunately, you can easily avoid this by doing your research and selecting the shipping container that will best suit your requirements. With this in mind, below is a useful guide to picking a shipping container of the correct size.

How much can I fit in a 10ft Container? 

10ft container is an excellent option if you have a small volume of goods to transport and don’t require the space offered by a 20ft or 40ft container. It is important to note that some sea freight companies will only accept standard 20ft and 40ft containers, as this makes stacking them safer and less difficult. For that reason, a 10ft container may not be suitable if you’re transporting goods by sea, although it can be a great choice if you’re shipping overland. 10ft shipping containers usually have around 72 square foot of floor space and are around 7ft 10” high, although you can opt for a high cube container that you will give you an extra foot of height. To give you an idea, a 10ft container can usually pack the contents of a small one‐bedroom flat or 2‐3 bedrooms.

How much can I fit in a 20ft Container?

20ft container (length) can typically fit approximately 25‐28cbm worth of goods inside. In terms of how much you can fit in a 20ft container, they can usually accommodate 8 large pallets or 16 small pallets. However, it’s important to be aware that this largely depends on the type of goods you’re transporting. For example, some items can’t be stacked and some boxes are too large to fit efficiently and maximise the available space. You should also keep in mind that you will be charged a heavyweight surcharge if your container weighs more than 15,000kg. 

How much can I fit in a 40ft Container?

Generally, a 40ft (length) container has approximately double the capacity of a 20ft container. This means it can usually fit around 54‐58cbm worth of goods inside i.e. 16 large pallets or 32 small pallets. Again, this is massively dependent on the nature of the goods. Large boxes are likely to result in lots of unusable space, which may significantly reduce the volume of goods you can fit inside the container. Unlike 20ft containers, you will not incur a heavyweight surcharge when you opt for a 40ft container. This makes a 40ft container ideal when transporting heavy goods. There are also 40ft high cube containers, which are considered the most space‐efficient models on the market. Naturally, a 40ft high cube container is slightly higher (27cm) than the original 40ft container. While this may not seem significant, the additional space allows you to fit a total extra volume of 9cbm, therefore maximising the number of goods you can transport. 

Other Types of Container

The above describes the standard and most commonly used shipping containers used. However, if you require something different, there are several different types of shipping containers available, these include:

  • Open top container ‐ These are ideal when transporting large or tall items as the top can be removed to provide extra flexibility when packing goods.
  • Side opening container ‐ These containers open fully on their longest side which makes them easier to load and especially useful for exhibiting items.
  • Tunnel container ‐ Also referred to as the ‘double door container’, these containers provide easy access from the front and rear which helps make the loading process more efficient. It also means that goods can be accessed quickly. 

Final Thoughts 

Shipping containers provide a secure, reliable, and affordable way to transport your goods. As we’ve explained, there are a wide variety of containers available on the market, in several different sizes and styles. As a result, we suggest you take the time to do your research and choose a container that is most appropriate for your individual needs and requirements. If you’re still unsure which container to choose, contact your local shipping container specialists for professional advice. 

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