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Domestic Container Shipping Rates

What's in this article?
  1. What Is A Domestic Shipping Container? 
  2. Shipping Containers How Are They Made?
  3. International Vs Domestic Shipping Containers
  4. Domestic And International Shipping Processes
  5. Domestic And International Container Shipping Rates
  6. 8 Different Types Of Shipping Containers
  7. Dry Storage Container
  8. Flat Rack Container
  9. Open Top Container
  10. Open Side Storage Container
  11. Refrigerated Iso Containers
  12. Iso Tanks
  13. Half Height Containers
  14. Special Purpose Containers
  15. How Are Container Shipping Rates Determined?
  16. Factors That Affect Domestic Container Shipping Rates
  17. Ground Distance
  18. Day Rates
  19. Loading And Unloading Assistance
  20. Factors That Affect International Container Shipping Rates
  21. Season/Time Of The Year
  22. Shipping Type
  23. Route
  24. Weight Or Size
  25. A Few Additional Shipping Costs You Need To Consider
Domestic Container Shipping Rates

According to sources, container shipping rates have dramatically increased between the years 2019 to 2022. And 2021 has been the year witnessing the abrupt increase in the rates of global freight shipping with the record price of nearly $10,400.

This whopping rise in the price is due to the increased demand for container shipping services and the limited supply of containers.

As a result, many shippers struggle to find affordable rates for their shipments. But, many other factors affect the final domestic container shipping rates.

What Is A Domestic Shipping Container? 

A domestic container is a container that is used only within the country, including areas that are considered part of the mainland, like offshore islands. 

Domestic shipping containers are large. A domestic shipping container is usually about 48ft or 53ft long

Inversely, an international shipping container is the one that is used while shipping goods internationally. 

Shipping containers are also called intermodal containers. 

"Intermodal" means that you can move them from one place to another using different types of transportation.

It includes trucks, trains, and boats. 


Shipping Containers: How Are They Made?

Most shipping containers are made of corten steel. 

Corten steel is a metal composed of other metals that oxidize when exposed to air and water. The oxidation process helps to prevent the metal from further degrading.

After processed corten sheets are cut into pieces and made into corrugated steel panels, the walls of the panels are welded together. Hardwood flooring and lockable double doors are attached for extra security and strength.

International vs Domestic Shipping Containers

International and domestic shipping containers are very similar. But there are differences too between them. For example, domestic shipping containers can be transported by different means, such as trucks or trains. But, international shipping containers can only be transported by ocean or air.

Domestic shipping containers are wider than international shipping containers. For example, the width of a domestic shipping container is 8ft 6inch. On the other hand, a 20ft or 40ft global shipping container is 8ft wide.

However, both types of shipping containers can hold different kinds of goods. They are strong enough to store and transport tricky materials. The amount of work it takes to ship something depends on one thing mainly.

That is: Where are you shipping it?

The place where the item is going will decide what type of container you need to use.

Domestic and International Shipping Processes

The main difference between shipping container processes is the destination where they are about to transport goods. 

For example:

Shipping domestically is generally easier than shipping internationally. For example, you only need a shipping label to ship within the United States. 

In three days, your package reaches its desired destination.

While International containers are harder to transport, they need to meet specific standards. Therefore, you need to prepare some documents to use an international shipping crate. 


The documents you will need are:

  • An origin certificate
  • Commercial invoice
  • Bill of lading

All packages have to go through customs before they are ready to go to their final destination. 

Domestic and International Container Shipping Rates

Containers are now part and parcel of our shipping lives. For example, business executives need to transport goods commercially, and people often rent or use their containers for their offices or homes. 

If you want to transport your belongings, you will need to determine how much it will cost to ship them in a container. Therefore, it is essential to know how much it will cost to ship your package in a container before sending it.

Below, we will discuss the different rates for shipping containers. To determine the domestic or international container shipping rates, you'll have to consider a few factors. 

But, first, let's help you understand how domestic container shipping rates are determined.

8 Different Types Of Shipping Containers

Different maritime and multimodal containers have been developed over time in response to the need for better logistics handling.

Some of them are mentioned below:

Dry Storage Container:

In the shipping industry, dry storage containers are most commonly used. According to an estimate, there are about seventeen million dry storage containers globally.

These containers come in three sizes: 20, 40, and 45 feet long.

They are designed to transport dry goods without temperature control, which means you cannot use them to move food or chemicals that need refrigeration or temperature control.

A lot of the freight used for international trade is carried inside these containers. Therefore, they play a vital role in making global trade more affordable.

Flat Rack Container

A flat rack container is a container that doesn't have a top. Instead, it has only two sides to hold a lot of weight. Flat rack containers are usually 20 or 40 feet long. These containers are made out of steel. Hence, they are solid and durable. 

Open Top Container

Containers of this type are similar to dry storage containers (except they don't have a top). You can load goods in bulk quantities into such containers quickly. However, you can secure such containers with a roof made of plastic with the help of ropes to keep the rain and other types of precipitation out.

Open Side Storage Container

An open side container is beneficial for wide merchandise that can't fit into a dry storage container. The long side of the container opens up like two large doors, but you can still secure these containers and shut them down to protect the merchandise inside.

Refrigerated ISO containers

A refrigerated container, also called reefer, is an intermodal container used to transport temperature-sensitive cargo. While many reefers have integral refrigeration units, some rely on external power sources like electrical power points or "reefer points" at a land-based site. 

Refrigerated containers can control the temperature from -65 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius. That is done by attaching a diesel-powered generator. These generators can power them on a trailer or in a railroad wagon.

ISO Tanks

Storage containers that are designed to hold liquids are called ISO tanks. They are usually made of anti-corrosive materials. The reason is that they often store chemicals that can damage other materials. 

ISO Tanks can also store dry goods, like sugar, but they are most often used for liquids.

Half Height Containers

Steel containers are half the height of full-sized containers. They are used for goods like coal and stones, which must be quickly loaded and unloaded. Half-height containers are more suitable for containerized cargo in bulk quantities.

Special Purpose Containers

You can get special-purpose containers in many different shapes and sizes. They're used to transporting things that need a particular container. Most shipping companies try not to use them because they're expensive. However, sometimes, when the shipment has an irregular shape or tricky dimensions, using them becomes mandatory.

How are Container Shipping Rates Determined?


The cost of shipping a container domestically is different from shipping it internationally because the factors that influence the price are different.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) determines shipping fees for goods shipped within the United States. On the other hand, US Customs Regulations assess the cost of shipping goods outside the US.

These authorities determine the shipping rates based on a few factors.

Factors that Affect Domestic Container Shipping Rates

The term domestic container transport refers to transporting a container within the country. It could be between states, between businesses, or from a warehouse to your business. 

Some factors go into determining the cost of shipping a container domestically.

Here's a quick breakdown of all those factors:

Ground Distance

Transporting a container depends on the distance between the pickup and drop-off locations. The more miles between the two, the more it will cost to transport the container. 

For example, shipping a container from one state to another is more expensive than transporting it to a city within the same state.

Day Rates

The standard fee is based on the time required when moving short container distances. 

The reason? Because it will take a shipper almost a whole day to drive to the new location.

You would pay for a day of service instead of a small number of miles, even if it is just around the block. A day service rate usually costs around $800 to $1,200.

Loading and Unloading Assistance

Before a shipping container transport begins, you need to load it onto a trailer. If you don't have loading assistance, you will need a crane crew. It is often something that the transport company you work with takes care of. However, it makes the price of shipping containers a bit high. 

You may also need to hire a rigging service. These additional services will add to the cost of shipping container transport.

Factors that Affect International Container Shipping Rates

As mentioned earlier, domestic container shipping rates differ from those determining international container shipping rates.


Some of the factors that influence the international container shipping rates are discussed below:

Season/Time of the Year

The cost of shipping a container depends on the season. The prices are highest from January-February and August-September because they are the peak seasons.

Shipping Type

International container shipping rates vary depending on whether you use air or sea transportation.

Air transportation is much more expensive than sea transportation because it takes more resources and fees to fly a cargo plane. However, shipping cargo by air is much quicker and more convenient.


The potential cost of shipping a container overseas differs depending on the route. The most common routes are usually less expensive. For example, shipping from Shanghai to Los Angeles is cheaper as it's one of the widely used shipping routes.

Weight Or Size

Container shipping rates also fluctuate depending on the weight and size of your shipment because aircraft can only carry a limited amount of weight.

Your shipment's weight determines how much it will cost to ship your container by air.

A container's size also impacts the cost of shipping by sea because your container needs storage space on a ship with many other containers.

A Few Additional Shipping Costs You Need to Consider

There are still some additional shipping costs you need to think about once you are aware of the weight of your goods and the size of the container. Whether it's a full container load (FCL) or less than container load (LCL) shipment and what kind of transport you'll use.

The following are the different types of fees you may be charged when importing goods:

  • Customs duties
  • Insurance cover 
  • General Rate Increase (GRI)
  • Inland delivery charges
  • Container inspection fees

Customs Duties

The country you are shipping your goods to taxes your cargo no matter what you do. It will also include some fees. 

For example: Terminal handling charges and Port service charges. 

However, the process will differ depending on the port. To find out what to expect, you should initially speak with your shipping company.

Note That: You must declare everything you're bringing into your destination country. Make sure to abide by the laws of the country you are moving your stuff to. Otherwise, you can get into serious trouble.

Container Inspection Fees

The chances of your container's physical inspection are meagre because of the e-scanning machines that are now in use.

To your surprise, in the United States of America, only 5% of inbound containers are physically inspected. The tradition of physical inspection is much lesser in European ports.

However, if the e-scans show that your container might be ambiguous, then the chances are high that the authorities will open and investigate your container. If this happens, the shipping company might inquire you to pay for all the costs they may have to compensate for this inspection process.

General Rate Increase (GRI)

A GRI is an average increase in shipping rates that some shipping companies implement. Freight carriers face continually increasing charges, so they regularly raise prices. 

Shipping companies keep raising their prices, but they have to lower their costs again when demand falls—making the container shipping charges very unpredictable.

As a result, once you agree on a Cargo Ready Date (CRD) with your transit company, check if it is before/after a new General Rate Increase (GRI). It can significantly increase the price of the overall shipping price.

Inland Delivery Charges

Make sure you understand what service your transit company is providing. For example, some shipping companies might only offer a port-to-port service. 

They will deliver your shipment to its new destination at port-to-port rates, but you will have to take care of it. It can be more expensive if we compare it with door-to-door service. Plus, it's a lot of work to organize everything and ensure it arrives safe and sound. So do yourself one favor and let the professionals take care of it.

Different Container Sizes and Their Average Shipping Costs

Below, we shall highlight the different containers based on their sizes and discuss their potential shipping costs.

20ft Shipping Container

The most common type of container is a 20ft shipping container. It is in high demand, so its price may be higher in some markets. The average cost for a 20ft shipping container can range from $1,378.91 to $6,894.53.

40ft Shipping Container

Another common type of container is the 40ft container. It is also called a forty-foot equivalent unit (FEU). 

FEU can carry most types of dry cargo, similar to the 20ft container. This container is 7ft 10 inches high on the interior and has 2,350 cubic ft of storage space. The average price for a 40ft container can range from $2,751 to $4,125.82.

40ft High Cube Shipping Container

The 40ft high cube container is 1 foot taller than the standard container. 

These containers have a storage space of 2,694 cubic ft and are ideal for transporting light yet taller cargo with a maximum height of 2.70 m. 

Depending upon the marketing condition, its price is around $4,400 to $7,200.


Hopefully, now you have got a better understanding of domestic shipping containers and how different factors can affect the cost of shipping your goods in those containers.

Many factors can affect the shipping cost of a container. For example, the type of container, the distance it needs to travel, and the weight and size of the shipment all play a role in how much you will pay to transport your goods.

 By understanding these different factors, you can make more informed decisions about which type of container is best for your needs and budget. 

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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
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15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
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Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
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45 Campus drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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