Not sure which container fits your needs? Get an overview of the different container types right here. Want to save time? Talk to one of our experts to find the best container prices for you in 2500 locations.

Containers come in different shapes and sizes. Suitable for different purposes. Knowing your container types give you a headstart – and the best chances to make the right business decisions for you. We’ll get to your container types overview in a minute.

Because once you’ve decided on the container type, finding the container at the right place and at the right price is the next step. As the first neutral, online trading marketplace, Container xChange is a good place to start. Here, you can choose between 10,000 containers and do business with 1,500+ companies.

Want to do a one-time container purchase? Then try out our basic membership, suitable for one-time buyers.

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If you’re not completely sure about which container type is right for you, no worries. Just keep on scrolling and we’ll go over the different container types together.

Overview: Container types and sizes 

Let’s take a look at the 10 most commonly used container types and their sizes. You can click on the links below to jump directly to a specific container type:

Standard container 

Container dimension - Standard

A standard container is the most common type of container in the market. It’s usually made of steel and sometimes aluminum. The aluminum containers have a slightly higher payload. In general, containers are airtight and water-resistant, preventing damage from the outside. One end of the container has doors through which the cargo is stowed. Despite the standardized sizes of 20 and 40-feet containers, the capacity of the containers can vary from operator to operator.

Standard containers can carry most types of dry cargo such as boxes, pallets, sacks, barrels, etc. It can be customized on the inside to carry a specific type of goods. For instance, hangers can be fit inside to carry clothes that could be directly transported to the store. Since standard containers are basic, they are not expensive.

Standard container size

Measure 20ft  40ft 
Internal length 5.9m / 19.4ft 12.03m / 39.5ft
Internal width 2.35m / 7.8ft 2.4m / 7.9ft
Internal height 2.39m / 7.9ft 2.39m / 7.9ft
Tare weight 2,300kg / 5,071.5 lbs 3,750kg / 8,268.8 lbs
Payload capacity 25,000 kg / 55,126.9 lbs 27,600kg / 61,200 lbs
Cubic capacity 33.2 m3 / 1,172 cu ft 67.7 m3 / 2,389 cu ft

High cube container

Container dimension - high cube

High cubes, in short HC, reefers to containers that are similar in structure to normal containers. The length and width remain the same, and the height increases. This enables them to meet more cargo demands.

High cube container size

Measure 40ft HC 45ft HC
Internal length 12.03m/39.5ft 13.55m/44.5ft
Internal width 2.35m / 7.8ft 2.35m / 7.8ft
Internal height 2.70m / 8.10ft 2.70m / 8.10ft
Tare weight 3,900kg / 8,598 lbs 4,800kg / 10,552 lbs
Payload capacity 28,600 kg / 63,052 lbs 27,700kg / 61,067 lbs
Cubic capacity 76.3 m3 / 2,694.5 cu ft 86 m3 / 3,037 cu ft

Container types and sizes: Special boxes

A special container has been manufactured or converted for different purposes to suit specific needs that can’t be covered by a container with standard sizes and dimensions. Many things can be changed such as:

  • A different position of the door(s)
  • Changes in the height and width of the container itself
  • Technological equipment

Below is a list of special container types and dimensions that you should be aware of.

Reefer container

Container dimension - reefer

Reefer containers are nothing but container-sized refrigerators to move goods that need to be maintained at a certain temperature. The flooring of the container has T-shaped decking which sends chilled air into the container. This makes sure there is consistent airflow among the goods. They can maintain any temperature between -30°C and +30°C.

Reefer containers mostly come in 20-feet equivalent units. They carry temperature-sensitive items such as fruits, vegetables, ice cream, drugs, or meat. Each item has a different temperature requirement and it needs to be maintained to protect its freshness. The reefer container can be sectioned to cool and freeze at the same time. It is powered by a generator that provides electricity. When they’re on the road being transported by trucks, the containers are powered by fuel. The reefer container is expensive considering the power and maintenance requirements.

Reefer container size

Measure 20ft  40ft 
Internal length 5.44m / 17.9ft 11.56m / 37.9ft
Internal width 2.29m / 7.5ft 2.28m / 7.5ft
Internal height 2.27m / 7.5ft 2.25m / 7.4ft
Tare weight 3,080kg / 6,791.4 lbs 4,800kg / 10,584 lbs
Payload capacity 27,700 kg / 61,078.5 lbs 29,520kg / 65,080 lbs
Cubic capacity 59.3 m3 / 2,093.3 cu ft 67.3 m3 / 2,380 cu ft

Double door container

Container dimension - double door

Double Door Containers are built to have double doors that swing open outside on both ends. Both sets of doors are built with the same specifications. It is the most convenient option for loading and unloading a container, as goods can be loaded or quickly unloaded from either end as required. For instance, a car loaded can just drive through and doesn’t have to be reversed.

They are also called tunnel containers as they are used to create a safe passage in construction sites. The container can be customized according to the storage purposes of the customer. It can be partitioned to make different slots.

Double door container size

Measure 20ft  40ft 
Internal length 5.9m / 19.4ft 12.03m / 39.5ft
Internal width 2.35m / 7.8ft 2.4m / 7.9ft
Internal height 2.39m / 7.9ft 2.39m / 7.9ft
Tare weight 2,300kg / 5,071.5 lbs 3,750kg / 8,268.8 lbs
Payload capacity 25,000 kg / 55,126.9 lbs 27,600kg / 61,200 lbs
Cubic capacity 33.2 m3 / 1,172 cu ft 67.7 m3 / 2,389 cu ft

Open-top container

Container dimension - open top

Open-top containers, as the name suggests, have an open top. The roof of the container is covered with tarpaulin sheets instead of a solid roof. That way it can be covered or left open according to convenience. The container is made of steel with wooden flooring and the door heads can be swung open for easy loading and unloading. They’re usually in the sizes of 20-feet and 40 feet containers.

Open-top containers are used when cargo is too large to be in a regular shipping container. For instance, machinery or heavy materials that cannot be stowed sideways but arranged from the top through heavy-lifting cranes. These containers have larger capacities than the normal ones as the roof is open. It has lashing rings that keep the cargo stable and has the capacity to load 1000 kgs.

The open-top containers might be generally high in price as there are not many units in circulation in the market. The price may also differ based on whether the container is in “gauge” or not. As in if the height of the cargo is under the roof level or is protruding above the roof level. If the cargo is protruding, it is expensive and other containers cannot be stacked on top of it, and it is very wasteful.

Some of the common items loaded in an open-top are pipes, cables, construction materials, machinery, and bulky raw materials.

Open top container size

Measure 20ft 40ft 
Internal length 5.89m / 19.4ft 12.03m / 39.5ft
Internal width 2.35m / 7.8ft 2.4m / 7.9ft
Internal height 2.35m / 7.8ft 2.34m / 7.8ft
Tare weight 2,260kg / 5,982 lbs 3,980kg / 8,774 lbs
Payload capacity 28,220 kg / 62,214 lbs 26,500kg / 58,422 lbs
Cubic capacity 32.7 m3 / 1,155 cu ft 66.7 m3 / 2,356 cu ft

Pallet wide container 

Container dimension- pallet wide

These containers were designed specifically to carry wooden Euro pallets that are commonly used within Europe. They are available as 20-feet, 40-feet, and high cube containers. The pallets are usually in the size of 1200 x 800 x 144. A standard 20-feet container can carry 11 of them, while a pallet wide 20-feet container can carry 15 pallets. This is possible because the containers are approximately 5m wider on the inside than the standard ones.

The pallet wide containers keep the cargo tight, so there is almost no chance of cargo slipping. As seen, this kind of container is made to measure exactly two euro-pallets in width. In comparison, the standard container is only able to carry one.

Pallet wide container size

Measure 20ft 40ft 
Internal length 5.89m / 19.32ft 12.03m / 39.46ft
Internal width 2.44m / 8ft 2.44m / 8ft
Internal height 2.39m / 7.84ft 2.38m / 7.80ft
Tare weight 2,400kg / 5,291.09 lbs 3,800kg / 8,377.56 lbs
Payload capacity 28,080 kg / 61,905.80 lbs 26,680kg / 58,819.33 lbs
Cubic capacity 34.34 m3 / 1,213 cu ft 69.86 m3 / 2,467.12 cu ft

Have you found exactly the container type you’re looking for? Now it’s time to figure out how much you actually should pay for your containers, so you don’t end up paying more than you have to. So, instead of spending hours trying to figure out the right market value and which locations you should be looking into, we’ve gathered all that information in one short report. Get your hands on it and save yourself hours of frustration looking for container prices, with them all right here.

Flat rack container 

Container dimension - flat rack

Flat rack containers are used for heavy loads and cargo that need loading from the top or sides such as pipes, machinery, or busses. The containers only have sides on the short end of the container.

The numerous lashing rings allow the load to be secured safely and by legal regulations. For example, crates exceeding the size of a closed container can be loaded. It’s even possible to attach stanchions. Thus, creating a lateral boundary without having to forego the other advantages of a flat rack container.

The new generation of flat rack containers is capable of accommodating loads of up to 40,000 – 50,000 kilograms with uniform distribution of the load. Although this makes it possible to load the above-mentioned goods, they usually take up a single place on a container ship. Due to the dimensions of the cargo or its weight, stacking is not possible.

Flat rack container size

Measure 20ft  40ft 
Internal length 5.94m / 19ft 12.13m / 39.8ft
Internal width 2.35m / 7.7ft 2.40m / 7.9ft
Internal height 2.35m / 7.7ft 2.14m / 7ft
Tare weight 2,360kg / 5203.8 lbs 5,000kg / 11,025 lbs
Payload capacity 30,140 kg / 66,458.7 lbs 40,000kg / 88,200 lbs
Cubic capacity 32.7 m3 / 1,154.3 cu ft 62.2 m3 / 2,195.7 cu ft

There are different sizes of flat rack containers and two different types. A collapsible flat rack has sides that can be collapsed so that empty containers can be shipped more efficiently. Fixed-end flat racks can be shipped and have a greater top load as they are often stronger in construction.

Flat rack container vs open top container

flat rack vs open top

Open top container (left) vs. flat rack containers (right)

Just like open-top containers or reefers, flat rack containers are special containers. This means higher freight costs for transport and stacking are often not possible due to dimensions or weight, which makes it necessary to occupy a single space.

All though open tops and flat racks are similar, it’s recommended to use them for different cargo. Open tops are good for heavy or high cargo. Where flat rack containers are good when there’s no other choice as roof bows add to the structural integrity of a container to avoid buckling.

Side door container

container dimension - side door

A side door container, also known as an open side container, has extra doors that open on the long side of the container on top of the doors in the end. The floor is fitted with surringsrings to hold the cargo in place. The side doors make it extremely convenient to load cargo that is bulky and cannot fit through the end doors. More workers can work simultaneously while loading or retrieving the cargo and it gives full access to retrieve what is needed.

Side door container size

Measure 20ft  40ft
Internal length 5.9m / 19.4ft 12.03m / 39.5ft
Internal width 2.35m / 7.7ft 2.28m / 7.4ft
Internal height 2.34m / 7.7ft 2.29m / 7.5ft
Tare weight 3,200kg / 7,054.7 lbs 6,100kg / 13,448.2 lbs
Payload capacity 20,800 kg / 45,856.1 lbs 30,400kg / 67,020.5 lbs
Cubic capacity 31.0 m3 / 1,094.7 cu ft 64 m3 / 2,260.1 cu ft

Hard top container

container dimension - hard top

Hard top containers are very similar to open containers with the difference being a detachable steel roof instead of a tarpaulin sheet. The roof of a hard top container has points through which a forklift can lift the roof.  As seen with the previous containers, this design allows for easy loading/unloading of specific types of cargo.

Hard top container size

Measure 20ft  40ft
Internal length 5.89m / 19.4ft 12.03m / 39.5ft
Internal width 2.35m / 7.8ft 2.4m / 7.9ft
Internal height 2.35m / 7.8ft 2.34m / 7.8ft
Tare weight 2,260kg / 5,982 lbs 3,980kg / 8,774 lbs
Payload capacity 28,220 kg / 62,214 lbs 26,500kg / 58,422 lbs
Cubic capacity 32.7 m3 / 1,155 cu ft 66.7 m3 / 2,356 cu ft

Tank container

Container dimension - tank

Tank containers are easily recognized, as their shape resembles more of a cylinder than a rectangular box. The containers, also known as tankers, are made of strong steel and anti-corrosive materials. Ensuring that the containers can sustain the transport – and protect the liquid material they carry.

As with any other container type, tank containers come in different shapes and sizes. Here’s how the measurements look like for a 20ft tank container.

Tank container size

Measure 20FT
Inside length 6.058 m
Inside width 2.438 m
Door width 0 m
Door height 0 m
Capacity 21,000 l
Tare weight 26290 kg

Depending on the size of the tank container, it can carry up to 26,000 liters. Here, it’s important to remember, that the tankers should be at least 80% full. That way the liquids can surge too much during transit. However, the container shouldn’t be more than 95% full either – otherwise, there won’t be room for thermal expansion.

Insulated container

container dimension - insulated

Insulated containers are vital to our cold chain. They keep the same temperature inside the container, regardless of the temperatures outside its four walls.

Insulated containers often have a double wall. That’s vacuumed so it prevents heat and cold transfer between the outside of the box and the inside. The interior is fully sealed to avoid condensation and moisture. But it’s not all that simple. Because there are different types of insulated containers. You can read all about insulated containers in our seperate blog.

Now you might be wondering what the difference between an insulated container and a reefer is. Actually, it’s quite simple. It’s all to do with the cooling system reefer containers have.

A reefer provides precise temperature control inside the container. An insulated container just maintains the initial temperature and protects the interior from exterior conditions. Reefers are used for climate-controlled storage and keep goods cold, frozen, or at a specific temperature during long-distance shipping. Insulated containers are often used in the retail market.

Have you found the right container type by now? Then keep on reading, and we’ll tell you how you can buy or lease your next containers from trusted partners – quickly and easily.

Half height container

Talking about the different container types here’s a shout-out to a very special box, the half height. Half height containers are ideal for moving heavy goods with low-volume cargo. They are used to transport pipes, tools, chains, hooks, anchors, and sometimes even vehicles. Locally, these containers are also used to transport items such as coal, sand, and gravel. If you are transporting over-height goods, half height containers can be an ideal choice.

Half height containers follow the DNV (Det Norske Veritas) standards. A DNV-approved half height container is equipped with slings, shackles, and multiple internal lashing points. There are also net securing points, cargo restraining nets, anti-slip surfaces, and forklift points for safety purposes.

A half height container also comes as an open top container for easy loading and unloading of cargoes. You also have the option to customize it with removable side or swinging doors. You can also choose a range of size that suits your need.

The standard sizes of a half height container are 10ft (3m), 15ft (4.5m), 20ft (6m), 23ft (7m) and 30ft (9m). However, 20ft is the most commonly used type.

Half height container size

Measure 20ft
Internal length 19.3ft (5.88m)
Internal width 7.3ft (2.22m)
Internal height 3.1ft (0.94m)
Tare weight 2,378 kg/ 5,240 lbs
Payload capacity 10,000 kg / 22,050 lbs
Cubic capacity 12.25 m³/ 432.6 cu ft

What’s a one-trip container? 

Being an integral part of the shipping business, you’ve definitely come across the term ‘one-trip container’. But what does it actually mean? Well, now that we are talking about the different types of boxes, it’s a good time to understand one-trip containers too.

So, here’s what it means. Simply put, a one-trip container can be any type of box that you’re looking for. What separates them from the rest is the fact that they only go on one trip before they’re sold, that is, from the manufacturer to the owner.

If you buy a one-trip container, rest assured that its condition is top-class as it’s practically new. Apart from that one trip, of course. With these containers, you get a better long-term value and can re-sell the containers at a higher price. But that also means you’ll have to pay a higher price when you buy it.

Want to know how much a one-trip container costs on average and how to save money on them? Learn more about these containers right here.

And if you want a bite-sized version of the different container types and sizes, watch our video below👇:

Buy or sell different container types and sizes on Container xChange

At Container xChange, we’ve created an online platform that works exactly like an online store. You can browse through containers, conditions, locations, and prices. When you’ve set your eyes on a container, or a bunch of them, you can reach out to the seller directly and negotiate a price.

Want to do a single container purchase? Our basic trading membership is just right for you – find it here.

Do you have repeating container needs? Then try out our Professional membership!

xChange trading benefits

For just US$190 per month, you get unlimited access to the platform and its 1,500+ members. As a professional member of the trading platform, you can:

  • Find vetted partners and make deals. Riskfree.

All companies undergo a mandatory vetting process before becoming members. This means, that you can do business with all xChange members. Risk-free. On top of this, all companies also have public profiles. Here, you can see reviews from previous partners – and how they’ve rated them. Want an extra layer of security? Keep on reading!

  • Make 100% secure transactions

Not only, does xChange ensure that all sellers are vetted. We also protect the buyers. So, you don’t have to worry about paying and not getting your assets. Our dedicated Customer Service team makes sure that your container operations go smoothly. And that your payments are completely secure.

  • Know market cost and negotiate better price on  containers

Find the containers that fit your needs – and compare prices with other offers. On the trading marketplace, you get a full overview of available containers. And you can see what other sellers want for their containers. Not satisfied with the price? Text the seller right on the platform and agree on a price right then and there.

  • Choose between 10,000 boxes and make unlimited deals

Need a container type you can’t find in your current sourcing channels? Don’t worry. With over 10,000 containers located across 2,500+ locations, Container xChange makes it easy to find the containers you need.

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Container types and sizes: Common FAQs

What are the different types of containers?

There are many different container types. Some of the most common types of containers are the 20ft dry container, the 40ft dry container, and high cube containers (with extra height). If you’re looking to ship special cargo, there’s a long row of containers to choose between. Everything from refrigerated containers to open top containers without a roof.

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Container types and dimensions: Standard and special boxes [+2022 prices]
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Container types and dimensions: Standard and special boxes [+2022 prices]
Not sure which containers fit your needs? Get an overview of the different container types and the global container prices in 2022.
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Container xChange
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