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Shipping Container Dimension and Sizes – Everything You Need to Know!

Published by Tamar Hela.

What's in this article?
  1. What is a Shipping Container?
  2. Interesting Facts About Shipping Container
  3. Types of Shipping Container
  4. General-Purpose Container
  5. Flat Rack Container
  6. Open Top Container
  7. Double Door Container
  8. High Cube Container
  9. Open Side Container
  10. ISO Reefer Container
  11. Insulated Container
  12. Half-Height Container
  13. ISO Tank Container
  14. Swap Body Container
  15. Size and Dimension of Shipping Container
  16. 10-Foot Containers
  17. 20-Foot Containers
  18. 40-Foot Containers
  19. Things to Consider Before Buying Shipping Container
  20. Space
  21. Size
  22. The Delivery Model of the Container
  23. Security
  24. Modifications
  25. Maintenance and Upkeep
Shipping Container Dimension and Sizes – Everything You Need to Know!

If you're planning to use a shipping container for storage or transportation, it's essential to know all details, including the dimensions and sizes of the available containers.

There are a variety of shipping containers on the market today, each with its dimension, size, and specifications.

This article will look at the different aspects of the shipping containers, some of their types, some factors you need to consider, and their benefits.

Read more to learn everything about shipping containers.


What is a Shipping Container?

Shipping containers are substantial containers used for shipment, storage, and handling.

They are available in a variety of sizes and materials. In simple words, we can say that a shipping container is a container used to transport goods.

It can be moved from one type of transportation to another without being unloaded and reloaded.

5 Interesting Facts About Shipping Container

There are five facts about shipping containers that can help your friends or colleagues willing to transport or ship logistics via a shipping container.

These facts will help you start a conversation about logistics. Try to remember some of these facts as they are exciting and help strengthen your shipping knowledge.

  1. The first-ever metal Shipping Container (invented nearly in 1956) to help correct the problem of shipping bulk cargo.
  2. China builds a lot of shipping containers, almost around 97% globally.
  3. A lot of countries use shipping containers to make space for an office room or a house because they are durable and cheap.
  4. The average large ship can hold 11,000 containers.
  5. Today, around 600 million containers are being used around the world.
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Types of Shipping Container

90% of the cargo across the globe is moved by ships. It makes sense because there are several types of shipping containers. Each one is designed for a specific objective.

But some ubiquitous shipping containers are discussed below:

  • General-Purpose Container
  • Flat Rack Container
  • Open Top Container
  • Double Door Container
  • High Cube Container
  • Open Side Container
  • ISO Reefer Container
  • Insulated Container
  • Half-Height Container
  • ISO Tank Container
  • Swap Body Container

General-Purpose Container

A general-purpose (a.k.a dry container) is an enclosed shipping container that is safe from harsh weather elements. It has a rigid construction and rugged roof, walls, and floor. This type is the most commonly used shipping container. They are used to ship most types of cargo. In addition, these containers are used for sending particular types of liquid or dry freight.


Flat Rack Container

A flat rack is an open-top container with collapsible sides. The sides of a flat rack container can be lowered for easy loading and unloading cargo that is too tall for a general-purpose container.

This property makes them a perfect option for shipping oversized goods. For instance:

  • Heavy machinery
  • Construction materials
  • Vehicles on tracks
  • Big reels

Some 40' flat rack shipping containers can carry up to 45 metric tons of cargo!

Open Top Container

An open-top shipping container has a removable convertible top. This container is designed to be used when the cargo is too tall to fit through the container's door, or the shipment is too bulky to handle by hand.

Open-top containers are equipped with lashing rungs on the lower, upper, and corner posts. These accessories allow you to secure cargo in the container. They are available in 20' and 40' sizes.

Double Door Container

This type of shipping container is called a "tunnel container" because it has doors on both ends.

Both doors make it easy to load and unload goods quickly. The container is also more comprehensive, suitable for storing steel or iron.

Both doors have the same locking system and seals to protect cargo from the weather.

High Cube Container

Similar to the general-purpose container but a bit taller (by 1 foot), high cube containers

come in sizes 40' and sometimes 45'. People use them when they need a container that is a bit bigger inside. Most standard high cubes have a recess on the bottom to be stacked higher and still have adequate ground clearance.

Open Side Container

Open side containers are similar to standard shipping containers, but the doors open on the side.

This feature makes it convenient to get things in and out because there is more room. Large items can be moved through open-sided containers in 20' and 40' lengths.

ISO Reefer Container

An ISO reefer is used to ship temperature-sensitive items like meat, fruit, and vegetables.

This container type needs external power to keep the container temperature regulated. Reefers come in 20' and 40', usually made from Corten steel.


Insulated Container

Thermal containers have temperature control, making them stay at a regulated temperature and withstand higher temperatures.

The insulated container is made just like a vacuum flask that helps keep the cold or hot air inside.

Such a type of interior allows the transport of products over long distances. Products like food, biological materials, organs, pharmaceuticals, blood, and chemicals, to name a few.

Half-Height Container

Half-height containers transport heavy cargo, stones, and coal. Hence, they are suitable to be used in the mining industry. In addition, these containers have a low center of gravity, making them better at handling heavier loads than taller containers.

They are also more robust and can keep up with the rougher industrial environment. Half-height containers are also easy to load and unload.

ISO Tank Container

Tank containers, also known as tankers, are made of solid steel or anti-corrosive materials.

The solid material helps protect liquid materials during transportation over long distances.

The tank containers are only filled up to 80% to prevent any risks arising from the rise of dangerous surges of the liquid during transit.

Swap Body Container

Swap bodies containers are used to transport goods by road and rail. They are popular in Europe.

These containers feature a convertible top, making them versatile for transporting various goods. However, they do not feature upper corner fittings. Also, they cannot be stacked.

So, you can only use them for land-based transportation.

Size and Dimension of Shipping Container

There are many different sizes of containers, but the most common ones are 20-foot and 40-foot containers.

A 20-foot standard container is about the size of a one-car garage. A 40-foot container is about the size of a two-car garage.

10-Foot Containers

The 10-foot shipping container is not a typical size for an intermodal container.

This type of container is usually smaller and suitable for people who need storage and have a limited budget.

You can buy a 10-foot shipping container for $3,000 and $4,500. What you get is a563 cubic feet of storage space inside the container.

20-Foot Containers

Twenty-foot containers are among the most common types of shipping containers. Although they are still small, they have enough room to store the contents of a one-car garage.

You can buy a 20-foot shipping container for around $1,100-$5,000. And, you get 1,170 cubic feet of storage volume and enough space to fit most needs.


40-Foot Containers

A 40-foot shipping container has a storage capacity of 2,350 cubic feet. Such ample space makes it perfect for storing heavy tools and equipment in construction and agriculture.

However, these containers are also ideal for a wide variety of businesses.

Prices for 40-foot storage containers vary depending on the quality and type of container you buy. However, you can expect to pay between $1,350 and $9,800 for a quality container.

Things to Consider Before Buying Shipping Container

Shipping containers can be a good option if you need to store many things and have no more space.

Containers are multipurpose. You can convert them into many things. Say:

  • Home
  • Office
  • Guesthouse
  • Shed
  • Garage
  • Shelter

And more!

Buying a container is a good idea because you can use it for any purpose. But it can be expensive, so make sure you choose the right one if it's your first container.

Here are a few factors that you should keep an eye on before buying a container:


Container sizes are measured in feet. A standard container is 8.6 ft tall, 8ft wide, and can be 40 or 20 inches long.

This means you need at least an 8 x 40 ft space to put the container. The height of the container should not block your view. Furthermore, you need about 110 to 120 ft space so the truck can drive in and drop off the container.


Two sizes of containers are available: a 20-ft container and a 40-foot container.

Here’s the breakdown of what containers of these two sizes can hold:

20-foot container: The material for a home having 3 bedrooms

40-foot container: 24 3-foot wide pallets.

The 40-foot container is a better option, but if you need to move it around often, the 20-foot one would be better.

The Delivery Model of the Container

You can save on delivery costs by unloading the container yourself using a forklift, crane, or backhoe. However, the manufacturer usually transports the container to the nearest location.


Corten steel containers are very durable. Corten steel containers are very durable. In addition, you can use an excellent padlock to keep them secure.

Pro tip: If you need to leave the container at unsupervised or a remote site, add a metal lockbox so that the padlock is safe.



If you plan using your container for a specific need, you can add a door, some vents, or a window. You can do it easily with a welding kit.

Maintenance and Upkeep

Corten steel is weather resistant and does not rust as quickly as other types of steel, but it can still rust. The rust is especially prominent in old containers. However, a fresh paint job can help hide the wear and tear.


Finally, it would help if you considered the cost as a factor. The overall price counts for the container’s quality, where you will pick it up, and the delivery charges. Again, compare quotes from different vendors to get the best deal.

Benefits of Shipping Container

Here are some benefits of using shipping containers:

Provide Fast Transportation

Most containers transported on cargo ships have information about the items written on them. That information enables custom officers to comprehend what is inside the container.

This process helps speed up the transitioning process because it limits the delays at the checking points of each product.

However, in some situations, the customs officers might decide to examine the container again if they are suspicious about something. For example, if customs officers think there is a problem with your cargo, they will do more checks to ensure the contents match what was listed on the container or in your documents.

Offer Flexibility in Cargo Transportation

Containers can carry different types of cargo. For example, they can have dangerous liquid substances like hydrocarbons and transport solid products like cars, wheat, and other items.

The best news is that you only need to carry one ton of cargo in a container. You can take a lot of goods in one trip. You do not have to transport your goods in shifts, which is much better.

Best to Provide Security

Shipping containers are made of steel, so they are strong. They are challenging to break into and give you peace of mind knowing that your belongings are safe.

Your goods are very safe when transported in shipping containers because the containers are completely sealed. And that means nothing can touch your interests and damage them. Furthermore, even bad weather won't affect your goods because they are inside the container. Due to this property, containers have become perfect-fit for shipping raw materials and food.

Shipping containers are made of solid metal. This metal protects your goods from harsh weather and theft during the move. In addition, the robust metal body of the container is hard to break.

Serve Several Purposes

It is a great idea to store items in shipping containers since they are portable and easy to transport. High portability makes them a good option for people who need to move their belongings frequently or those who don't have a lot of space.

Can Be Stored Anywhere

Another great benefit of using a shipping container for storage is storing it anywhere. Whether you have a small space or a large one, there is a shipping container that will fit your needs. Of course, you can also keep your container on your property or at a storage facility.



Using shipping containers for different purposes is a super-creative idea. They are great for storage and transportation. They are also very safe and easy to move.

But before buying a shipping container, there are some factors that you should consider. These include the cost, size, and type of shipping container. You should also consider the company you are buying from. Please make sure they are reputable and have a good track record.

Good luck with your shipping container hunt!

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Tamar Hela is one of our featured writers at A-1 Auto Transport, researching everything from AI auto shipments out of China to what paperwork is required to move long distance. We can safely say she's become well versed in all things shipping and logistics while making the information easy to digest and understandable. 

Tamar has been a copywriter for over 16 years and was trained in the 7-Figure Copywriting Accelerator course through American Writers & Artists, Inc. (AWAI). She's also an incredibly seasoned copyeditor, having previously been the Chief Editor and Publishing Director for Cosby Media Productions, based in Atlanta, Georgia. 

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd,
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
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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