Want to know all about shipping container weight? Read this blog for your full guide to shipping container weights and dimensions. Plus why this is so important when moving cargo. What’s more, find out how to buy containers at the best prices on Container xChange.

Before you ship cargo, it’s crucial to understand the weight of your containers. So you know exactly how much you can pack in. You don’t want a situation where your containers are overweight, as this could lead to fines, cargo damage and delays. Choosing the right container type and size will depend on the weight of your shipments. 

Already know which container sizes and types you need for your cargo but struggling to source them from reliable sellers? No problem! We’re Container xChange, an all-in-one marketplace for trading and leasing shipping containers from vetted and pre-approved suppliers. Choose from 50,000+ containers available in 2,500+ locations around the world.

Curious to find out more? Try out our public search right now. Simply type in your location and the container type you want and get offers that suit your budget today.

Please select a valid location.

How much does a shipping container weigh? 

Shipping containers come in various types and sizes. The most commonly-used shipping container for transporting dry goods is the standard dry container. Dry containers come in three sizes:

Generally speaking, an empty standard 20ft shipping container weighs 2,300kg / 5,071.5 lbs, a 40ft is 3,750kg / 8,268.8 lbs and a 40ft high cube is 3,900kg / 8,598 lbs.

Standard shipping container weights

3 types of shipping container weights 

When we talk about the weight of a container, there are 3 different types to take into account. Let’s get into these now. 

Tare weight

The tare weight is the weight of a container when it’s empty. This includes that of the container itself, plus the doors, roof and fixtures. Tare weight is essential for calculating the total weight of a loaded shipping container accurately. 

Payload (net weight)

The payload weight is the total weight of cargo that can be loaded into a container. This weight measurement represents the weight of the actual cargo itself. Every container type and size is designed to carry a specific payload capacity, and this should never be exceeded. 

Gross weight 

The gross weight is the combination of the tare weight and the payload capacity. In other words, gross weight is the total weight of a loaded container. Gross weight is crucial in transportation and logistics, as it helps to ensure that containers are fully loaded and that all regulations are met. 

Container in container yard

Weight of a shipping container according to size: 20ft, 40ft, 40HC

Now let’s take a look at the weights and dimensions of 20ft, 40ft and 40ft HC containers in more detail. 

20ft shipping container weight & dimensions

The 20ft shipping container is a popular due to its lightweight nature. It’s perfect for transporting small loads of dry goods like clothing, electronics and grains. 

Measure 20ft
Internal length 5.9m / 19.4ft
Internal width 2.35m / 7.8ft
Internal height 2.39m / 7.9ft
Tare weight 2,300kg / 5,071.5 lbs
Payload capacity 25,000 kg / 55,126.9 lbs
Cubic capacity 33.2 m3 / 1,172 cu ft

40ft shipping container weight & dimensions

The 40ft container is the older sibling of the 20ft, with double the capacity of the 20ft. 

It’s important to note that the 40ft is usually only around 30% more expensive than the 20ft. So it makes more sense to opt for one 40ft rather than two 20fts if you have larger cargo requirements. 

Measure 40ft container
Internal length 12.03m / 39.5ft 
Internal width 2.4m / 7.9ft
Internal height 2.39m / 7.9ft  
Tare weight 3,750kg / 8,268.8 lbs
Payload capacity 27,600kg / 61,200 lbs 
Cubic capacity 67.7 m3 / 2,389 cu ft

40ft HC shipping container weight & dimensions

The 40ft high cube container has the same dimensions as the 40ft container with an extra foot of height. This container size is idea if you have slightly taller cargo, or simply want to pack in a little more without buying a whole new container.

Measurements 40ft HC
Internal length 12.03m / 39.5ft
Internal width 2.35m / 7.8ft
Internal height 2.70m / 8.10ft
Tare weight 3,900kg / 8,598 lbs
Payload capacity 28,600 kg / 63,052 lbs
Cubic capacity 76.3 m3 / 2,694.5 cu ft

Want 20ft, 40ft or 40ft HC containers for your cargo needs? You’re in luck! Find standard containers in 2,500+ locations around the world at the best prices right now. Get started today by clicking the banner below.

Buy shipping containers now

Why is it important to know the container weight?

Knowing the weight of the container type you choose is important for a number of reasons. Here are some of the most crucial ones:

Cargo storage capacity: Before you decide which container size to opt for, you’ll need to know the container capacity. This will help you figure out if your cargo load will fit without exceeding the weight limits. 

Calculating freight rates: Shipping lines charge freight rates according to the weight of your cargo load. In order to get a fair rate for your shipment, you’ll need to know the payload and gross weight of your container. 

Shipping compliance: Each shipping container type and size must comply with specific weight and dimension restrictions. The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requires shippers to disclose the verified gross mass (VGM) of all containers before they’re allowed onboard a ship. Loaded containers that exceed the weight limit for their category will be fined and kept at the port

Safety and damage prevention: A shipping container that’s overweight poses serious safety risks to port workers, containers and cargo. Loads that are too heavy can damage the container body, as well as chassis and terminal handling equipment used to lift and move it. 

Balancing container loads: Besides making sure a container isn’t overweight, it’s also crucial to ensure your container load is balanced. For a load to be balanced, cargo must be evenly distributed. If a shipment isn’t properly balanced inside, the container could topple or buckle, damaging both the cargo and the container itself, and endangering port workers. 

How to weigh a shipping container

As we know, containers are big and heavy – so it’s not so simple to weigh them. But don’t worry, we’ll go over some of the most commonly-used methods of weighing shipping containers now.

Weighing containers on a chassis: To weigh a shipping container on a container chassis, a weighbridge is usually used. A weighbridge is a large platform scale mounted onto a concrete platform, which weighs an entire road vehicle and its contents all at once. The vehicle is driven onto the weighbridge to be weighed. 

Crane or hoist: A crane or hoist is another way to measure the weight of a shipping container. This is done by lifting the container off the ground and measuring it as it hangs. The crane method is used when containers can’t be driven onto a weighbridge or there isn’t another type of weighing facility available.

Lever arm: This is a manual method of measuring container weight using a lever arm, fulcrum and counterweight. The container is placed on one side of the lever arm and the counterweight is adjusted until the lever is balanced with the container. 

Get shipping containers at the best price on xChange

Now that you know everything you need to know about container weights, it’s time to find the perfect containers for your cargo needs. Luckily, you can buy, sell and lease the containers you need quickly and easily in 2,500+ locations on Container xChange. 

Plus, you’ll get all of these benefits and more once you sign up as a member:

  • 50,000+ containers available in over 2,500 cities around the world
  • Deal directly with vetted suppliers, no middlemen
  • 0% commission on deals & no hidden fees

So why not get started right away with a free demo of our all-in-one shipping container marketplace? You’ll get a tour of the platform, and a chance to find out how xChange can work for your business. Buy containers of any shipping container weight at the best prices in the locations you need now.

Buy shipping containers

Shipping container weight: Common FAQs

What is the weight of a 20ft shipping container?

A standard 20ft shipping container weighs 2,300kg / 5,071.5 lbs. This weight measurement is known as the tare weight.

What is the weight of a 40ft shipping container?

An empty 40ft shipping container weighs 3,750kg / 8,268.8 lbs. This weight measurement is called the tare weight of a container, and takes into account any fixtures on the container body, plus the roof and doors.

How much does an empty container weigh?

Although there are three main weight measurements to take into account, the tare weight (weight of an empty container) of a 20ft container is 2,300kg / 5,071.5 lbs, of a 40ft is 3,750kg / 8,268.8 lbs and of a 40ft high cube it’s 3,900kg / 8,598 lbs.

Shipping container weight: Best guide to 3 types of weights
Article Name
Shipping container weight: Best guide to 3 types of weights
Shipping container weight is important for compliance and safety. Read all about it here, plus buy containers at the best prices on xChange.
Publisher Name
Container xChange
Publisher Logo