Dimensions of Shipping Containers

Container Shipping Dimensions - Shipping Container Dimensions

20 foot and 40 foot container dimensions

Container shipping stands as a cornerstone of global trade, enabling the efficient and secure transport of goods across vast distances. Central to this process are the containers themselves, standardized steel boxes that can be easily loaded, unloaded, stacked, and transported. The 20-foot and 40-foot containers are among the most commonly used, each with specific dimensions and capacities tailored to a variety of cargo needs. This essay delves into the dimensions of these containers and explores their significance in international shipping.

40 Foot Container Dimensions

20-Foot Container Dimensions

The 20-foot container, officially known as a Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU), is the industry standard reference for cargo volume and vessel capacity. The dimensions of a standard 20-foot container are approximately 20 feet in length, 8 feet in width, and 8.6 feet in height. This equates to an internal volume of about 33 cubic meters (1,172 cubic feet), providing a spacious yet manageable size for a wide range of goods. The container’s door width typically measures 7.8 feet, with a height of around 7.5 feet, allowing for easy loading and unloading of cargo.

20 foot Container Dimensions

In terms of weight, a 20-foot container can generally accommodate a gross maximum of about 24,000 kilograms (nearly 53,000 pounds), although the tare weight (the weight of the empty container) is approximately 2,300 kilograms (about 5,070 pounds). This leaves a substantial payload capacity for cargo, making the 20-foot container a versatile option for many shippers.

40-Foot Container Dimensions

The 40-foot container, or Forty-foot Equivalent Unit (FEU), effectively doubles the capacity of the TEU, offering a broader option for larger shipments. The standard dimensions for a 40-foot container are roughly 40 feet in length, 8 feet in width, and 8.6 feet in height, mirroring the proportions of the 20-foot variant but with double the length. This increases the internal volume to about 67 cubic meters (2,387 cubic feet), providing ample space for voluminous cargo or larger quantities of goods.

Shipping Worldwide

Like its smaller counterpart, the door width of a 40-foot container is generally 7.8 feet, with a height of 7.5 feet. The gross maximum weight capacity for a 40-foot container is approximately 30,480 kilograms (around 67,200 pounds), with a tare weight of about 3,700 kilograms (roughly 8,160 pounds). This leaves a significant payload capacity, making the 40-foot container an efficient choice for shipping larger or heavier goods.

Significance in International Shipping

Shipping Container Shipping

The standardized dimensions of 20-foot and 40-foot containers have revolutionized international shipping, enabling the seamless transfer of goods between trucks, trains, and ships. This interoperability, known as Intermodal transportation, reduces handling costs, minimizes cargo damage, and facilitates quicker shipping times. The size and capacity of these containers make them suitable for a wide variety of goods, from consumer products and electronics to bulk commodities and machinery.

Furthermore, the predictability of container dimensions allows for the optimization of cargo space, both within the container and in the arrangement of containers on transport vessels. This efficiency not only reduces shipping costs but also contributes to more sustainable logistics by maximizing the cargo transported per trip.

In conclusion, the 20-foot and 40-foot containers are indispensable to the global shipping industry, providing standardized, secure, and efficient means of transporting goods across the world. Their dimensions cater to a wide range of shipping needs, making them pivotal in the ongoing expansion of international trade. As global commerce continues to grow, the role of these containers in facilitating economic connectivity and efficiency cannot be overstated.

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Container Shipping

Dimensions and Cost for 20 and 40 Foot Containers

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Container Shipping


Size/Type Exterior (L x W x H) Internal (L x W x H) Door Openings (H x W) Payload (lbs) Inside Cubic Capacity (CBM/CF.) Tare Weight (lbs)
20' Dry 19' 10" 8' 8' 6" 19' 4" 7' 8" 7' 9" 7' 5" 7' 8" 38,000 32.9 / 1,161 5,138
40' Dry 40' 8' 8' 6" 39' 5" 7' 8" 7' 9" 7' 5" 7' 7" 43,000 67 / 2,366 9,151
40' High Cube 40’ 8' 9' 6" 39' 6" 7' 8" 8' 9" 8' 6" 7' 8" 43,000 75.6 / 2,671 9,658



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