Shipping Container Types and Dimensions

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Shipping containers across the globe sizes follow the international standard called the ISO (Industrial Standards Organisation). These containers have been created specifically to meet the demands of exporters and importers in international trade. There are twelve different categories of ISO containers and a variety of types to choose from within those categories, it’s possible to ship everything from bulk grains and raw materials to perishable commodities.

How do I know which container to use?

The various types of shipping containers have identifying serial numbers that act as a mark to helps shippers and freight forwarders track containers as they move through the shipping process.

The identifying mark vary and are combined of the following:

  • The first three letters are the owner code, that is an abbreviation for the name of the owner of the container and is registered with the ICB (International Container Bureau).
  • The fourth letter is known as the product code: U for all freight containers; J for detachable freight container equipment and; Z for trailers and chassis.
  • The following six digits represent the registration number assigned by the owner operator to each container in their fleet.
  • The final digit is the check digit, placed in brackets. This is a control number used to verify the owner, product code, and serial number.
  • There is also an identifying code for the container type, the tare weight (weight of the empty container), gross weight and maximum payload.

 

 The different shipping containers sizes and their dimensions are outlined below:

20-foot Dry Container Dimensions

Container Reference Code:

22GP

 

Container Application:

The 20-foot dry container is for general purpose cargo.

Container Dimensions:

Width Height Length
Door opening in feet 7′ 8 ⅛” 7′ 6 ¼”
Door opening in meters 2.34 m 2.29 m
Interior dimensions in feet 7′ 8 ⅝” 7′ 6 ¼” 19′ 4 ¼”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.34 m 2.29 m 5.9 m

Container Weight

Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 52,831 lbs 4,914 lbs 47,899 lbs
Weight in kg 23,956 kg 2,229 kg 21,727 kg
Container Volume In CFT In CBM
Load Capacity 1,172 CFT 33.2 CBM

20-foot Flat Rack Container Dimensions

Container Reference Code:

22PC

 

Container Application:

The 20-foot flat rack container is for especially heavy loads, over-sized cargo, construction equipment, building supplies or heavy machinery.

Container Dimensions:

Width Height Length
Interior dimensions in feet 8′ 7′ 3 ⅞” 19′ 9 ¾”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.438 m 2.233 m 5.638 m

Container Weight

Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 99,200 lbs 6,400 lbs 92,800 lbs
Weight in kg 45,000 kg 2,900 kg 42,100 kg
Load Capacity 1,154.3 CFT 32.7 CBM

20-foot Open-Top Container Dimensions

Container Reference Code:

22U1

 

Container Application:

The 20-foot open-top container is for over-height cargo and top loading.

Container Dimensions:

Width Height Length
Door opening in feet 7′ 8 ⅛” 7′ 6 ¼”
Door opening in meters 2.34 m 2.29 m
Interior dimensions in feet 7′ 8 ⅝” 7′ 10 ¼” 19′ 4 ¼”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.352 m 2.395 m 5.9 m

Container Weight

Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 52,897 lbs 5,297 lbs 47,619 lbs
Weight in kg 23,994 kg 2,394 kg 21,600 kg
Container Volume In CFT In CBM
Load Capacity 1,172 CFT 33.2 CBM

20-foot Ventilated Container Dimensions

Container Reference Code:

22VH

 

Container Application:

The 20-foot ventilated container is for cargo that requires ventilation, typically used to transport green coffee beans or similar cargo.

Container Dimensions:

Width Height Length
Door opening in feet 7′ 8 ⅛” 7′ 6 ¼”
Door opening in meters 2.34 m 2.29 m
Interior dimensions in feet 7′ 8 ⅝” 7′ 10 ¼” 19′ 4 ¼”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.352 m 2.395 m 5.9 m

Container Weight

Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 52,897 lbs 5,297 lbs 47,899 lbs
Weight in kg 32,500 kg 2,394 kg 21,727 kg
Container Volume In CFT In CBM
Load Capacity 1,172 CFT 33.2 CBM

20-foot Refrigerated Container Dimensions

Container Reference Code:

22RT

 

Container Application:

The 20-foot refrigerated container is for cargo that requires temperature control.

Container Dimensions:

Width Height Length
Door opening in feet 7′ 8 ⅛” 7′ 6 ¼”
Door opening in meters 2.34 m 2.29 m
Interior dimensions in feet 7’6″ 7′ 4 ⅞” 17′ 11 ⅝”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.28 m 2.33 m 5.45 m

Container Weight

Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 67,200 lbs 6,970 lbs 60,230 lbs
Weight in kg 30,480 kg 3,160 kg 27,320 kg

40-foot General Purpose Dry Container Dimensions

Container Reference Code:

42GP

 

Container Application:

The 40-foot dry container is for general purpose cargo.

Container Dimensions:

Width Height Length
Door opening in feet 7′ 8 ⅛” 7′ 6 ¼”
Door opening in meters 2.34 m 2.29 m
Interior dimensions in feet 7′ 8 ⅝” 7′ 10 ¼” 37′ 11 ¼”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.352 m 2.395 m 12.01 m

Container Weight

Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 67,199 lbs 5,220 lbs 59,039 lbs
Weight in kg 30,481 kg 3,701 kg 26,780 kg
Container Volume In CFT In CBM
Load Capacity 2,389.75 CFT 67.67 CBM

40-foot Open Top Container Dimensions

Container Reference Code:

42OT

 

Container Application:

The 40-foot open top container is for top loading for excessively long or high cargo.

Container Dimensions:

Width Height Length
Door opening in feet 7′ 8 ⅛” 7′ 6 ¼”
Door opening in meters 2.34 m 2.29 m
Interior dimensions in feet 7′ 8 ⅝” 7′ 10 ¼” 39′ 5 ⅝”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.352 m 2.395 m 12.01 m

Container Weight

Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 67,196 lbs 8,487 lbs 58,709 lbs
Weight in kg 30,480 kg 3,850 kg 26,630 kg
Container Volume In CFT In CBM
Load Capacity 2,389.75 CFT 66.67 CBM

40-foot High Cube Container Dimensions

Container Reference Code:

40HQ or 40HC

 

Container Application:

The 40-foot High Cube container is larger than the 40-foot standard dry container.

Container Dimensions:

Width Height Length
Door opening in feet 7′ 8 ⅛” 8′ 6 ¼”
Door opening in meters 2.34 m 2.56 m
Interior dimensions in feet 7′ 8 ⅝” 8′ 10 ⅛” 39′ 5 ⅝”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.352 m 2.69 m 12.01 m

Container Weight

Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 67,196 lbs 8,747 lbs 58,448 lbs
Weight in kg 30,480 kg 3,968 kg 26,512 kg
Container Volume In CFT In CBM
Load Capacity 2,694 CFT 76.3 CBM

40-foot Flat Rack Container Dimensions

Container Reference Code:

42PC

 

Container Application:

The 40-foot flat rack container is for over-sized cargo, heavy machinery, construction equipment, or supplies.

Container Dimensions:

Width Height Length
Door opening in feet NA NA
Door opening in meters NA NA
Interior dimensions in feet 7′ 4″ 7′ 5 ⅓” 39′ 3 ⅞”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.23 m 2.27 m 11.98 m

Container Weight

Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 98,326 lbs 12,897 lbs 85,429 lbs
Weight in kg 44,600 kg 5,850 kg 38,750 kg
Container Volume In CFT In CBM
Load Capacity 1,860 CFT 52.7 CBM

40-foot Refrigerated Container Dimensions

Container Reference Code:

42RT

 

Container Application:

The 40-foot refrigerated container is for cargo that requires temperature control or perishable cargo.

Container Dimensions:

Width Height Length
Door opening in feet 7′ 5 ⅜” 6′ 11 ⅞”
Door opening in meters 2.26 m 2.13 m
Interior dimensions in feet 7’5 ⅜” 7′ 1 ⅞” 37′ 11 ¼”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.26 m 2.18 m 11.48 m

Container Weight

Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 67,053 lbs 10,778 lbs 56,275 lbs
Weight in kg 30,415 kg 4,889 kg 25,526 kg
Container Volume In CFT In CBM
Load Capacity 2,039.7 CFT 57.76 CBM

45-foot High Cube General Purpose Container Dimensions

Container Reference Code:

L5GO

 

Container Application:

The 45-foot high cube dry container is for general purpose cargo.

Container Dimensions:

Width Height Length
Door opening in feet 7′ 9½” 8′ 5 ¾”
Door opening in meters 2.37 m 2.58 m
Interior dimensions in feet 7′ 11″ 8′ 10″ 44′ 4 ¾”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.41 m 2.69 m 13.53 m

Container Weight

Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 74,960 lbs 10,910 lbs 64,050 lbs
Weight in kg 3,4000 kg 4,950 kg 29,050 kg
Container Volume In CFT In CBM
Load Capacity 3,122 CFT 88.4 CBM

20-Foot Tank Container Dimensions

Container Reference Code:

22TO

 

Container Application:

The 20-foot tank container is for food stuffs, oils, and chemicals.

Container Dimensions:

Width Height Length
Exterior dimensions in feet 8′ 8′ 6″ 20″
Exterior dimensions in meters 2.43 m 2.59 m 6.09 m
Container Volume In U.S. Gallons In Liters
Load Capacity 6,450 gl 26,001 lt

 

How do I book a non-standard container?

When shipping oversized cargo, the dimensions and weight determine which container type best accommodates your shipment. If the items(s) do not fit in a standard container, your freight forwarder can arrange a non-containerised shipment. Information about the shipment, along with a photograph and spec sheet must be submitted to the freight forwarder. They will then handle the booking with the shipping company. Once the details are finalised and confirmed, the freight forwarder can give you a detailed assessment of fees and recommend your cargo solution.

How are shipping containers constructed?

Containers are built from thick non-corrosive steel and square tubing frame. The sides are built from 14 gauge, non-corrosive rolled steel that is corrugated to add rigidity and then welded to the steel frame.

The floor of containers are made of the same square steel tubing for the frame and a thick plywood floor attached to the cross braces.

The corner posts are designed to take the weight of nine containers stacked on top of one another. Each container has a door opening at one end.

Standard containers are 20’ x 8’ x 8’6”, However, the 40-foot and 45-foot containers are becoming just as common. An empty 20-foot container weighs approximately 5,500 pounds and can carry 65,000 pounds of goods.

When talking about containers the cargo statistics are calculated in TEU (20-foot equivalent units). Therefore, a 20 foot container would be 1 TEU, a 40-foot container would be 2 TEUs and so on. As newer super freighters become more commonplace, the sizes of containers are increasing as well, with some measuring as long as some as long as 57ft.

In Europe however, it’s worth noting that the larger sized containers are frown upon because of the older and more narrow streets in many European cities make it difficult for large trucks to navigate. This has been known to cause numerous congestions.

Please contact our sales team if you would like more information about container shipping.