If you’re wondering about standard shipping container dimensions, you’ve come to the right place. Get the lowdown on the different shipping container sizes and types and make an informed decision about the containers you need for shipping. 

Standardization of containers has made a world of difference in the shipping industry. It makes container operations efficient across the globe.

The good news is that you can source standard shipping containers of your choice conveniently on the easy-to-use Container xChange’s digital platform. Our online container marketplace houses 10,000+ containers across 2,500+ locations globally.

We’ve got everything from dry containers and reefers to open-top, side door, and flat rack containers. You can get the container in various sizes including 20ft, 40ft, 40ft, and 45ft, depending on the type.

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          Importance of standard shipping container dimensions

          Before we dive into the different container dimensions, types, and uses, let’s talk about standardization. 

          So, why is the standardization of shipping containers necessary?

          Container shipping is the backbone of global trade, with almost 90% of all cargo transported via ocean liners. This means that most goods are transported around the world in the humble metal boxes we know as shipping containers.

          In the past, shipping container sizes were not standardized. This led to all kinds of issues with stacking boxes and estimating container loads correctly. Not to mention the problems that came with moving different-sized boxes on and off trucks and loading them onto ships efficiently. Luckily, those days are over.

          How ISO shipping container sizes led to a rise in global trade

          Since 1961, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has ensured that all containers of a specific type adhere to strict size, dimensions, and construction guidelines. ISO certification stipulates the exact measurements of containers, and whether they are strong, sturdy, and weather resistant.

          Once these boxes adhered to the ISO standard container dimensions, it was finally possible for logistics, manufacturing, and shipping companies all over the world to work together more efficiently.

          Standardized shipping container sizes cut the loading times by up to an astonishing three weeks. They also eliminated space wastage allowing ships to carry more cargo than ever. Thus, drastically speeding up the shipping process as a whole, allowing for a massive increase in trade volumes.

          Multiple containers

          ISO shipping container dimensions: An overview

          Standard shipping containers are around 20 feet or 40 feet long, each at around 8 feet wide. The height of each shipping container varies between standard height (8 feet 6 inches) and high cube (9 feet 6 inches). 

          The most popular container types are 20ft, 40ft and 40ft high cube. These ISO ocean containers are used for shipping dry cargo including machinery, grains, paper and electronics.

          Are you looking for dry containers but want to know more about them? Check out this blog post to learn about 20ft and 40ft shipping containers in detail.

          Let’s take a look at the dimensions for dry containers below. 

          20ft ISO container dimensions

          The 20ft dry container is a favorite for shipping dry goods of all kinds.

          This iso container size is often in demand due to its convenient smaller size. It’s easy to load and unload from ships and can be used at ports without advanced lifting equipment. It’s also great for intermodal transportation.

          Here are the 20ft iso container dimensions:

          Measure 20ft
          Internal length 5.9m / 19.4ft
          Internal width 2.3m / 7.8ft
          Internal height 2.3m / 7.8ft
          Tare weight 2,300kg / 5,071.5 lbs
          Payload capacity 25,000kg / 55,126.9 lbs
          Cubic capacity 33.2 m3 / 1,172 cu ft

          40ft ISO container dimensions

          The 40ft ISO standard container is another popular choice for transporting dry goods. This box is the older sibling of the 20ft, with double the length.

          Got extra cargo that won’t fit into a 20ft? Don’t stress, the 40ft is your savior. It’s usually only around 20-30% more expensive than the 20ft but with double the space!

          Here is the 40ft ISO shipping container dimensions:

          Measure 40ft
          Internal length 12.03m / 39.5ft
          Internal width 2.3m / 7.9ft
          Internal height 2.3m / 7.9ft
          Tare weight 3,750kg / 8,268.8 lbs
          Payload capacity 27,600kg / 61,200 lbs
          Cubic capacity 67,7 cu m / 2,389 cu ft

          40ft high cube ISO container dimensions

          The 40ft high cube is exactly the same as the 40ft dry container, only with extra height. This container size is perfect for transporting taller or out-of-gauge items that won’t fit into a standard box. Or if you just want to fit more cargo into your box.

          Check out the iso shipping container dimensions for 40ft HC here:

          Measurements 40ft HC 
          Internal length 12.03m / 39.5ft
          Internal width 2.4m / 7.9ft
          Internal height 2.70m / 8.10ft
          Tare weight 3,900kg / 8,598 lbs
          Payload capacity 28,600kg / 63,052 lbs
          Cubic capacity 76.3m3 / 2,694.5 cu ft

          Need more details on the high cube container? Click here to read about HC containers in length.

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          Standard vs special shipping containers: What’s the difference?

          Perhaps you’re wondering about the difference between a standard and a special shipping container. It’s time to clear up any confusion before moving onto the next section.

          A standard, or dry container, is used to ship dry goods only. These are boxes made of aluminum or steel, with a set of doors on one end.

          A special container, on the other hand, is a box that has been modified to meet a specific shipping need. This category includes the refrigerated container, the flat rack container, and the tank container, to name a few. Special containers are used to transport temperature-sensitive items, liquids and gasses, or oversized/awkwardly-shaped cargo.

          Here are some common modifications:

          • The height and width of the container
          • Technological equipment
          • Different door positions, extra doors
          • Removal of container roof

          In the next section, we’ll dive deeper into the dimensions and uses of special boxes of all kinds.

          ISO standard shipping container dimensions by type

          Let’s get started by looking at the open top, a useful container type if you want to load items from the top.

          Open top container dimensions

          Open top containers have no roof (as their name suggests). Instead, a tarpaulin is used to cover cargo and keep it dry. Open tops make loading heavy and oversized cargo quick and convenient.

          If you need to transport cargo like pipes, glass slabs, cables, marble blocks or steel bars, the open top container is perfect for you.

          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 2.3m / 7.9ft 2.34m / 7.8ft
          Tare weight 2,260kg / 5,982 lbs 3,980kg / 8,774 lbs
          Payload capacity 28,220kg / 62,214 lbs 26,500kg / 58,422 lbs
          Cubic capacity 32.7m3 / 1,155 cu ft 66.7m3 / 2,356 cu ft

          Reefer shipping container dimensions

          The term ‘reefer’ is short for ‘refrigerated container’. These boxes are used to transport temperature-sensitive goods like fruit, meat, flowers, seafood, dairy products, and pharmaceuticals.

          Reefers use sophisticated cooling equipment to cool or freeze cargo. You can also section off the container for cooling and freezing simultaneously. Reefers can maintain any temperature between -30°C and +30°C.

          Let’s check out the shipping container sizes for a 20ft, 40ft and 40ft HC reefer below:

          Measurements 20ft 40ft 40ft HC
          Internal length 5.44m / 17.9ft 11.56m / 37.9ft 11.58m / 38.0 ft 
          Internal width 2.29m / 7.5ft 2.28m / 7.5ft  2.29m / 7.5 ft 
          Internal height 2.27m / 7.4ft 2.25m / 7.4ft 2.40m / 7.9 ft 
          Tare weight 3,080kg / 6,791.4 lbs 4,800kg / 10,584 lbs 4,480kg / 9,880 lbs
          Payload capacity 27,700kg / 61,078.5 lbs 29,520kg / 65,080 lbs 29,520kg / 65,080 lbs
          Cubic capacity 28.3 m3 / 993.4 cu ft 67.3 m3 / 2,380 cu ft 2,380 cu ft / 67.3 m³

          Double door container dimensions

          Double door containers have doors on either end, allowing for quick and easy loading and unloading of cargo. These boxes are perfect for transporting cars, bikes, boats and other vehicles.

          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 25,000kg / 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

          If you’re interested in learning more about double doors, click here for a detailed guide.

          Pallet wide container dimensions

          These containers are designed for the transportation of cargo on wooden Euro pallets. Two pallets can be placed side-by-side and stacked to the ceiling. This container is manufactured to precise measurements, so that Euro pallets fit snugly, with no room to move or slide.

          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 28,080kg / 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

          Need a pallet-wide container? Click here to learn everything there is to know about this container type.

          Flat rack container dimensions

          Flat rack containers don’t have a roof, or walls on their longer sides. This container type makes loading awkwardly-shaped cargo easy. You can load cargo from either side, or the top – so convenient!

          Once cargo has been successfully loaded, it’s secured and fastened using lashing rings. Newer flat racks can carry loads of between 40,000 and 50,000 kgs!

          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 30,140kg / 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

          Side door container dimensions

          Side door containers have an extra door that opens up on the long side of the container.

          The extra space created by the side door allows for quick and easy loading and unloading of awkwardly-shaped or bulky cargo. The extra doors also make it possible for more workers load cargo at the same time.

          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 20,800kg / 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

          Is the side door what you need for your oddly-shaped or heavy cargo? Click here to learn more about this container type.

          Hard top shipping container dimensions

          Perhaps you’re wondering: what’s the difference between an open-top and a hard-top container? The answer is simple.

          Open top containers are covered by a tarpaulin sheet, whereas the hard-top container has a removable steel roof. The purpose of both of these containers is the same – a removable roof makes room for oversized cargo. It also makes loading from the top possible.

          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 28,220kg / 62,214 lbs 26,500kg / 58,422 lbs
          Cubic capacity 32.7 m3 / 1,155 cu ft 66.7 m3 / 2,356 cu ft

          Hard tops are so useful! Click here for the answers to any other questions you may have about this container type.

          Tank ISO standard container dimensions

          If you need to transport liquids, gasses, powders or hazardous materials, a tank container is your answer. Tank containers are cylindrical in shape, and fit inside a rectangular frame. They’re made out of stainless steel. 

          Tank containers are lined with insulation, as well as a protective layer of aluminum or polyurethane. This makes them a safe and secure option for the transport of a wide variety of materials.

          Measure 20ft 40ft
          Inside length 6.058m 12,03m      
          Inside width 2.438m 2,35m
          Door width 0 m 0 m
          Door height 0 m 0 m
          Capacity 21,000 l 24,000 l
          Tare weight 26290kg 11,800kg

          There’s a lot more to learn about tanks. Interested in reading up? Check out this blog post for more information.

          Insulated ISO shipping container dimensions

          Insulated containers have double walls, which keep the goods inside cool. The interior is completely sealed to avoid condensation, as well as any moisture from building up. 

          Insulated containers are used to transport wine, fresh goods and beverages on shorter journeys. 

          Measure 20ft 40ft
          Internal length 5.75m / 18.10ft 1.561m / 37.11ft
          Internal width 2.26m / 5.7ft 2.28 m / 7.6ft
          Internal height 2.11m / 6.11ft 2.249m / 7.5 ft
          Tare weight 2650kg / 5840lbs 4800kg / 10580lbs
          Payload capacity 21350kg / 47070lbs 27700kg / 61070lbs
          Cubic capacity 970 cu ft 2090 cu ft

          Find out all the ins and outs of the insulated container in this informative blog post.

          Find variety of ISO shipping container dimensions and types easily on xChange

          If you’re a shipper, we know how tricky it can be to find the boxes you need, when you need them. Especially, if you’re looking for a variety of container types. Sick struggling to source boxes of different kinds? We’ve got a solution for you.

          On Container xChange, you can find both standard and special containers of all types on our online marketplace. We’ve got everything from dry containers to reefers, pallet-wides, flat racks and side doors.

          Once you’re a member, simply type your requirements into the public search to find container deals that match your needs. It’s also easy to compare the prices for multiple offers simultaneously, to make sure you’re finding the best offers out there.

          As soon as you find the containers you’re looking for, you can negotiate the price and terms directly with the seller. What’s more, all payments are safe and secure, and can be managed on xChange.

          Each of our 1,500+ members have been vetted and pre-approved, so you can rest assured you’re working with only the best partners in the industry. It doesn’t get much better than that!

          Still having doubts? Here’s what founder and managing director, Christian Vostoupal, of the international container trader Versibox, says about xChange:

          What I like most is the practicality and speed in which I can consult prices and start a negotiation. The information I get is reliable, easy, and quickly accessible.”

          Want to become a member? Let’s help you out with that. Click on the banner below to start your seamless, digitally rich and efficient container logistics journey today! Our team of experts will help you get a quick glance of the platform and how you can use it effortlessly for your business. Also, hey don’t forget to ask any questions you might have, they’ll be ready to answer them for you.

          What are the dimensions of a 20ft shipping container?

          A standard 20ft container has an internal width of 7.8ft (2.35m), a height of 7.9ft (2.39m), and an internal length of 19.4ft (5.9m). 20ft containers are perfect for transporting dry goods of all kinds.

          What are the dimensions of a 40ft shipping container?

          A standard 40ft shipping container has an internal width of 7.9ft (2.4m), a height of 7.9ft (2.39m) and an internal length of 39.5ft (12.03m). The 40ft container is a popular choice for transporting dry cargo on ships.

          What is a standard shipping container?

          Standard shipping containers are used for intermodal transport (on trucks, trains and ships). They are also known as dry containers, and come in 20ft, 40ft and 40ft HC sizes. Standard containers are used to transport dry goods including grains, paper, electronics and clothing.

          What’s the difference between a standard and special shipping container?

          While standard containers are simple boxes made out of aluminum or steel, special containers are modified for a specific need. Special containers include reefers, flat racks, double doors, side doors, open tops and tanks.