Shipping containers are being used for transporting goods all over the world. They had revolutionized the shipping industry since the day they were invented. Apart from their primary purpose, they are popular as storage solutions.

Nowadays, you can even see shipping containers used for various conversion projects, like container homes, offices, and more. Whatever the reason for using a shipping container is, they require transportation, right? So whether it’s across town or the globe, there is a process to follow when moving a shipping container. 

At this point, we should mention intermodalism. The most important feature of a shipping container is that it is intermodal, meaning it can be transported easily using various types of transport.

Whether a shipping container is carried by truck, on a railway, or shipped overseas on a container ship, the standardization of the shipping container makes transporting and handling fast, safe, and easy.

Methods of Transporting a Shipping Container

Shipping containers are standardized to be moved easily. They were invented to carry goods across the globe safely and securely. They were built to withstand the external elements and made to be moved easily between different modes of transportation. These different methods of transportation are key for the global economy.

Choosing the proper method will depend on your circumstances. This article will look deeply into different ways of moving a shipping container.

·         Shipping Container Transport by Truck

Shipping containers are commonly carried by trucks, but the type of truck depends on the size of your container and the accessibility of its destination. Trucking companies offer special equipment to move shipping containers. Let’s take a look at different types of trucks that can carry shipping containers.

What Kind of Truck Can Move a Container?

  • Tilt Bed Truck: Tilt bed trucks are for transporting a container for less than 200 miles. Accordingly, they are especially a perfect solution for local deliveries. The truck bed can be tipped at an angle to let the cargo slide off easily. This way, the driver can unload without requiring additional equipment.
  • A Flatbed Truck: You will need a flatbed truck to transport your containers more than 200 miles. Flatbed trucks are amongst the most common means of transportation for shipping containers on land. As the name suggests, flatbed trucks have a simple fixed platform with no walls, so you can easily load containers via a forklift or a crane. Flatbed trucks are used to transport 20ft and 40ft shipping containers, except HC containers. 
  • Low Boy: As the name implies, a low boy is highly close to the ground, allowing it to carry legal loads up to 12ft tall, which is something that other trucks cannot do. A Low boy can easily move up a ramp.
  • Step Deck: Step deck trucks are 9.5ft tall, allowing them to transport HC shipping containers. Step-deck trucks are lower than flatbed trucks and slightly higher than low boys.
  • Chassis: A chassis is a trailer frame with wheels explicitly designed to move a wide range of container types. They are designed to carry containers between ports. Every chassis have mechanisms to lock the shipping containers on each four corner of them, so there is no need for additional equipment to lock the container.

·         Shipping Container Transport by Train

Transporting shipping containers is a feasible option if your container’s point of origin and destination are real railroads. Trains are especially a great way to transport large items such as furniture or appliances.

At this point, it is essential to note that only standard containers can be transported with trains because a modified container will not carry the rail line’s freight. Container transportation via railyards will factor into the cost and may require railyard certifications.

As you can see, the added time and costs are associated with transporting shipping containers with trains. In some cases, they can be a very viable option, though.

·         Shipping Container Transport by Boat

Shipping containers are designed to be transported overseas. In this regard, specialized ships were built to transport these shipping containers. They can carry a much larger load than any other form of transportation. Container ships are large vessels built to transport enormous quantities of cargo.

Sea freight is the most common mode of transportation for a wide range of goods, such as crude oil, raw materials, industrial equipment, food, medicine, and even cars. These ships are used to transport a shipping container anywhere between 10000 and 21000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units).

Shipping container transport by boat has many advantages. First, it is an affordable way to transport over long distances. Most importantly, if you are transporting significant volumes of cargo, it is the best way to transport them all at once. The only downside of shipping containers via boat is it takes longer when compared to other methods.

How to Move a Shipping Container with a Forklift?

It is essential to know that not every forklift is suitable for moving a shipping container. Since you are putting all the weight and pressure of the shipping container on its center, using a non-suitable forklift can be a nightmare.

Accordingly, the forklift you need should be able to lift at least 15000 pounds. This ensures the forklift’s arms are wide and strong enough to lift your container without damaging it. 

What Does It Cost to Move a Shipping Container?

Various factors determine the cost of moving a shipping container, but there are two that drive the bulk of the cost; distance and size. Factors like location, insurance, time of the year, driver access, and gas prices can also affect the price.

The price of moving a container a short distance will be considerably lower than moving them internationally. International container shipping can get tricky for different reasons, like import/export laws, customs regulations, etc.

The distance is the most contributing element affecting the price of moving your containers. Also, your moving method does, too. 


As you can see, transporting your shipping container requires knowledge and consideration because how to move a shipping container is a vital question.

After all, choosing the correct method is extremely important to keep your shipping container and cargo safe. Besides, it is challenging to manage the logistics, from selecting the proper transportation method to various elements that affect the price. 

However, with this blog post, you know how to choose a proper shipping container transportation method according to your container’s unique requirements.

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