Shipping Container Dimensions

External Dimensions

Length

For storage and other non-shipping applications other sizes are created by cutting down larger containers to required size. Most common cut-down sizes are 8ft (2.44m), 12ft (3.66m), 16ft (4.88m), 24ft (7.32m) and 32ft (9.75m). There are many container modification companies who will make other sizes to order.

Height

The most common height of a shipping container is 8ft 6ins (2.59m) though 9ft 6ins (2.90m) high containers are becoming increasingly common. In the past 8ft high (2.44m) was very common and there are some containers 9ft (2.74m) available but these are rare.

Width

The standard width of a shipping container is 8ft (2.44m). To accommodate some types of pallet, particularly in Europe 2.5m wide containers are available though are less commonly available to buy on the second hand market.

Internal Dimensions

The sides of a shipping container are in nearly all cases, corrugated. The depth of the corrugation is usually 1inch (25mm), which means that 2inches (50mm) is lost from the external width dimension. The back (blank end) of a shipping container is also corrugated and the doors are around 2inches (50mm) thick meaning that approximately 3 inches (75mm) is lost from the length.

The main reduction from external to internal dimensions is with height. The floor of a standard shipping container has an underside clearance of approximately 6 inches (150mm) and the floor has a thickness of 27mm (1.1 inches). As the roof is corrugated another 1 inch (25mm) is lost resulting in an internal dimension of around 8 inches less than external – 7ft 10 inches (2.39m), though this can vary slightly either way.

Through the door height

Through the door height is further reduced because of the steel top rail above the door which is a part of the structural integrity of the container which is 4 inches (100mm) thus reducing the entrance height to 7ft 6ins (2.28m), though this can vary slightly either way.

Weights

There are three relevant weights of a shipping container, the Tare Weight, the Gross Weight and the Payload. These are painted onto the outside of the doors of a shipping container when it is in shipping service or before it has been repainted for another application.

  • The Tare Weight is the weight of the container without cargo or contents.
  • The Gross Weight is the weight of the container plus the maximum payload it can hold i.e. the maximum total weight of the container.
  • The Payload (or Net Weight) is the weight of the cargo or contents that a container can hold.
Typical Weights of Standard Shipping Containers
Length 10ft 20ft 40ft
Max Gross Weight 11,300kg 30,480kg* 30,400kg
24,910lbs 67,200lbs 67,200lbs
Tare Weight 1,300kg 2,170kg 3,750kg
2,870lbs 4,780lbs 8,270lbs
Payload (or Net Weight) 10,000kg 28,310kg 26,730kg
22,040lbs 62,420lbs 58,930lbs

*The most common alternative for 20fts is 24,000kg for stores manufactured to a lower specification.

Note that cut-down containers cannot hold the same weight when lifted as a standard container because the structure of the container has been altered. The container modification company should be able to supply details of capacities and advise if their design has been weight tested for lifting.

Cubic Capacity

Typical Cubic Capacities of Standard Shipping Containers
Length 10ft 20ft 40ft
Cubic Capacity 15.95 cu m 33.2 cu m 67.59 cu m
563.3 cu ft 1,170 cu ft 2,387 cu ft

Structure

Shipping containers are designed to carry cargo. They are designed to be lifted vertically from above by cranes and transferred from ship to shore and between other forms of transport such as trains and lorries. Therefore they need to have strength in the top corners where they are engaged by the twistlocks of a container lifting crane. The corner castings in the top corners of the container are therefore points of strength.

The strength is transferred down through the corner posts to the corner castings at the bottom and then through the floor. The floor is constructed of steel cross members approximately 6 inches (150mm) deep, which are approximately 20 inches (508mm) apart and give transverse strength and support the floor. The cross members are welded at each end to longitudinal beams which run the length of the container between the corner castings. This all means that the strength of a shipping container lies within the corner posts and the floor. Structural alterations or damage to these components will weaken the container.

The information contained here is for guidance only. ContainerContainer do not accept any responsibility for any loss or damages resulting from use or interpretation of this information.