Shipping containers are the way goods are transported around the globe. Not only that, but recently it has been used for a variety of purposes, such as an office, gym, pool, garage, small shop, and many others. 

With various shipping container sizes and dimensions available, it’s crucial to understand the options to make the best choice for your shipping needs. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore common shipping container sizes, specialized types, dimensions, and weight capacities, and provide tips on choosing the right container.

Shipping Container Dimensions

Common Shipping Container Sizes

Container SizeLengthWidthHeightVolumeCommon UsesWeight (empty)
20-foot container20 ft8 ft8 ft 6 in1,172 cu ftSmall appliances, clothing, electronics, etc.5,050 lbs (2,290 kg)
40-foot container40 ft8 ft8 ft 6 in2,390 cu ftFurniture, vehicles, machinery, etc.8,000 lbs (3,630 kg)
40-foot high cube40 ft8 ft9 ft 6 in2,694 cu ftLightweight, bulky items such as mattresses8,775 lbs (3,980 kg)
45-foot container45 ft8 ft9 ft 6 in3,122 cu ftOversized cargo, large machinery, equipment, etc.10,580 lbs (4,800 kg)
53-foot container53 ft8 ft 6 in9 ft 6 in4,027 cu ftBoats, airplanes, large equipment, etc.10,800 lbs (4,900 kg)

Note: It’s important to note that the weight of the container itself can impact the total weight capacity of a shipment. It’s crucial to factor in the weight of the container and its contents when planning for transportation to ensure safe and efficient handling of the cargo.

Common Shipping Container Sizes

Shipping Container Dimensions

Container TypeExternal Dimensions (L x W x H)Internal Dimensions (L x W x H)Door Opening (W x H)Max Gross WeightTare WeightMax Payload
20′ Standard20′ x 8′ x 8’6″ (6.1m x 2.4m x 2.6m)19’4″ x 7’8″ x 7’10” (5.9m x 2.3m x 2.4m)7’8″ x 7’6″ (2.3m x 2.3m)66,139 lbs (30,000 kg)4,850 lbs (2,200 kg)61,289 lbs (27,800 kg)
40′ Standard40′ x 8′ x 8’6″ (12.2m x 2.4m x 2.6m)39’6″ x 7’8″ x 7’10” (12.0m x 2.3m x 2.4m)7’8″ x 7’6″ (2.3m x 2.3m)66,139 lbs (30,000 kg)8,380 lbs (3,800 kg)57,759 lbs (26,200 kg)
20′ High Cube20′ x 8′ x 9’6″ (6.1m x 2.4m x 2.9m)19’4″ x 7’8″ x 8’10” (5.9m x 2.3m x 2.7m)7’8″ x 8’6″ (2.3m x 2.6m)66,139 lbs (30,000 kg)5,181 lbs (2,350 kg)60,958 lbs (27,650 kg)
40′ High Cube40′ x 8′ x 9’6″ (12.2m x 2.4m x 2.9m)39’6″ x 7’8″ x 8’10” (12.0m x 2.3m x 2.7m)7’8″ x 8’6″ (2.3m x 2.6m)66,139 lbs (30,000 kg)8,775 lbs (3,980 kg)57,364 lbs (26,020 kg)
Shipping Container Dimensions

Shipping Container Types

Here are all shipping container types, and if you want to learn more, check out this post.

  • Standard
  • High Cube
  • Open Top
  • Flat Rack
  • Refrigerated (Reefer)
  • Tank Container
  • Insulated
  • Bulktainer
  • Tunnel Container
  • Side Open Container
  • Double Door Container
  • Half Height Container
  • Collapsible Flat Rack
  • Platform Container
  • Swap Body Container
  • Ventilated Container

Tips To Choosing the Right Shipping Container Size

Tip NumberTip DescriptionCriticality
1Assess the volume and dimensions of the items you plan to store or transport to determine the required container size.High
2Consider the weight of the items to ensure the container’s maximum payload capacity is sufficient.High
3Account for any extra space needed for packaging materials, pallets, or dunnage to prevent cargo movement during transit.Medium
4Identify if any special features, such as refrigeration or ventilation, are required for your cargo.Medium
5Evaluate the available space at your loading, unloading, and storage locations to ensure the container can be accommodated.High
6Factor in the frequency and duration of your shipping needs to determine whether buying or renting a container is best.Medium
7Check for local regulations or restrictions that may impact your choice of container size, type, or condition.Medium
8Compare quotes from multiple suppliers to find the best combination of price, quality, and delivery options.High
9Inspect the container, if possible, to ensure it is in good condition and meets your requirements.High
10Consult with a logistics expert or shipping container provider for guidance on the most suitable container for your needs.Medium
11Determine the ease of accessibility to the container for loading and unloading purposes, including door placement.Medium
12Consider the potential need for modifications or customizations, such as additional doors or windows, to suit your usage.Low
Tips To Choosing the Right Shipping Container Size


How do I determine the right shipping container size for my needs?

Consider the dimensions and weight of your cargo, as well as any specific loading, unloading, or transportation requirements. Consult with a shipping expert if necessary to help you make the best choice.

Can I use a shipping container for purposes other than shipping cargo?

Yes, shipping containers are increasingly being used for storage, housing, and other creative applications due to their durability, versatility, and customizability.

How do I maintain my shipping container?

Inspect your container regularly for signs of wear and tear, rust, or damage, and address any issues promptly. Ensure that the container is placed on a level surface to maintain structural integrity.

What is the difference between a standard container and a high cube container?

High cube containers have an extra foot in height compared to standard containers, providing increased storage capacity and making them well-suited for taller or bulkier cargo.

What are some common shipping container modifications?

Common modifications include adding ventilation, insulation, shelving, doors, and windows. These customizations can help adapt a container to various uses, including storage, housing, and more.