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

Standardization of containers has made a world of difference in the shipping industry, and makes container operations easier all round.

With Container xChange, you can source standard shipping containers of all kinds, in one convenient place. We’re an online container marketplace, with over 10,000 containers available in 2,500+ locations globally.

We’ve got everything from dry containers and reefers to open tops, side doors and flat racks. You can get containers in various sizes including 20ft, 40ft, 40ft and 45ft, depending on the type.

Interested in checking out what we have available? It’s so easy to browse boxes on our platform. Simply type in your location and the container type you’re after for. Then press ‘search’ to find offers near you.

Please select a valid location.

Importance of standard shipping container dimensions

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

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, as well as checking that they are strong, sturdy and weather resistant.

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

It’s easy to see how standardizing shipping container sizes and dimensions has led to a boom in global trade. Once containers of all kinds became standardized, it was finally possible for logistics, manufacturing, and shipping companies all over the world to work together.

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

What are the dimensions of a standard shipping container?

And now for the reason you’re here. To learn all about standard container dimensions. We’ll start by looking at standard containers.

Standard ISO dry containers are 7.8ft (2.3m) wide, 7.9ft (2.3m) in height, and come in two lengths: 20ft (5.9m) and 40ft (12.03m). These are the most popular container types for shipping dry cargo including machinery, grains, paper and electronics.

This sought after shipping container type comes in three standard sizes: 20ft, 40ft, and 40ft high cube.

Are standard dry containers piquing your interest? Check out this blog post to learn more about the 20ft and 40ft shipping containers.

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

20ft dry container dimensions

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

This 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 (via road, trains and ships).

Here are the dimensions of the 20ft shipping container:

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 dry container dimensions

The 40ft 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, we’ll let you in on a little secret. The 40ft is usually only around 20-30% more expensive than the 20ft, for double the space!

Here are the dimensions for standard 40ft boxes:

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 dry container

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 dimensions for the 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 learn more.

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.

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 measurements

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 size

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 dimensions of 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 59.3 m3 / 2,093.3 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 measurements

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 size

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 size

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 standard container size

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 container specifications

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.

All shipping container types & sizes available 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? Great! The first step is to sign up for a free demo with one of our friendly and helpful experts. Here you’ll get a tour of our easy-to-use platform. Plus the chance to ask any burning questions you may have.

Click below to start your journey with us today.

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.

Summary
Want standard shipping container dimensions? [Your 2023 guide]
Article Name
Want standard shipping container dimensions? [Your 2023 guide]
Description
Curious about standard shipping container dimensions? Find the standard dimensions of all container types and sizes.
Author
Publisher Name
Container xChange
Publisher Logo