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Shipping Container Dimensions and Sizes

Malcolm McLean’s intermodal container revolutionized global trade. Shipping containers allowed the cargo to be transported by train, truck, and ship while reducing transport times and labor costs.

As of today, different shipping containers are being used for all types of cargo. Dimensions of a shipping container differ depending on its purpose. More than 17 million containers of different dimensions and types are used by 50000 merchant ships to carry 90% of the world trade.

Picking a suitable container is extremely important to keep your cargo safe. For example, refrigerated containers are better suited for transporting temperature-sensitive cargo such as medicine or food.

There are many different shipping container types and dimensions in circulation.  In this regard, it is one of the essential things to consider the dimensions of a container in terms of length, width, and height. In this article, we are going to take a deeper look into the most common container types and their dimensions.

Dimensions of the Most Common Container Types

Dimensions of the Most Common Container Types

Before diving into individual container dimensions, it is essential to talk about standardization. Since the 60s, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has ensured shipping container sizes, dimensions, and construction.

This way, the shipping containers can be stacked and moved on and off to and from various vehicles efficiently.

When it comes to shipping container dimensions, the focus is always the length and height. Below we are going to list the most common container types and their dimensions. These are the containers that you are most likely to come across.

Because of their nature, shipping containers are pretty versatile. Their versatility makes these common shipping containers useful and popular. The transportation infrastructure has been designed with these dimensions in mind. 

· 20-foot Container Dimensions

The standard 20ft shipping container is probably the first thing that pops into people’s minds. ease of maneuverability and lower weight make 20-foot shipping containers famous. This size is often in demand because of its convenient size and they are generally found ideal for intermodal transportation.

External Dimensions

19ft 10in long, 8ft wide, 8ft 6 in high (6.05m long, 2.44m wide, 2.59m high)

Internal Dimensions

19ft 4in long, 7ft 8in wide, 7ft 10in high (5.90m long, 2.35m wide, 2.39m high)

Door Dimensions

7ft 8in wide, 7ft 6in high (2.34m wide, 2.29m high)

· 20-foot High Cube Container Dimensions

The 20ft high cube shipping container (20’ HC) is quite similar to the standard 20ft shipping container, except for the high cube variant with an additional 12 inches of height. It is one of the most preferred choices for transporting heightened goods so it can be stowed without touching the ceiling.

External Dimensions

19ft 10in long, 8ft wide, 9ft 6 in high (6.05m long, 2.44m wide, 2.70m high)

Internal Dimensions

19ft 4in long, 7ft 8in wide, 8ft 10in high (5.90m long, 2.35m wide, 2.70m high)

Door Dimensions

7ft 8in wide, 8ft 6in high (2.34m wide, 2.59m high)

· 20-foot Refrigerated Container Dimensions

The 20ft refrigerated shipping container is a standard 20ft container but it sacrifices some storage space for cooling equipment to cool/freeze the goods inside. Refrigerated containers are significant for keeping temperature-sensitive cargo safe.

External Dimensions

19ft 10in long, 8ft wide, 8ft 6 in high (6.05m long, 2.44m wide, 2.59m high)

Internal Dimensions

17ft 10in long, 7ft 6in wide, 7ft 5in high (5.44m long, 2.28m wide, 2.26m high)

Door Dimensions

7ft 6in wide, 7ft 5in high (2.28m wide, 2.26m high)

· 40-foot Container Dimensions

The 40ft shipping container is amongst the most common containers used, especially for dry goods. If your cargo doesn’t fit into a 20ft container, you’ll definitely benefit from the 40ft variant. Also, the 40ft shipping container offers double the volume compared to a 20ft container, which only costs 15-25% more.

External Dimensions

40ft long, 8ft wide, 8ft 6 in high (12.19m long, 2.44m wide, 2.59m high)

Internal Dimensions

39ft 6in long, 7ft 8in wide, 7ft 10in high (12.04m long, 2.35m wide, 2.39m high)

Door Dimensions

7ft 8in wide, 7ft 6in high (2.34m wide, 2.29m high)

· 40-foot High Cube Container Dimensions

The 40ft high cube shipping container (40’ HC) has more vertical space than the standard 40ft variant. So, if you are interested in a container with the same floor area and an additional one-foot overhead room, the high cube variant is perfect for you.

For instance, this extra foot of vertical space can be handy when repurposing the container into a home. The rooms will feel much bigger and better.

External Dimensions

40ft long, 8ft wide, 9ft 6 in high (12.19m long, 2.44m wide, 2.89m high)

Internal Dimensions

39ft 6in long, 7ft 8in wide, 8ft 10in high (12.04m long, 2.35m wide, 2.70m high)

Door Dimensions

7ft 8in wide, 8ft 6in high (2.34m wide, 2.59m high)

· 40-foot Refrigerated Container Dimensions

The 40ft refrigerated container offers the benefits of high volume as well as the insulation it provides. The built-in refrigeration unit can take up some space, so if you want to convert this type of container into a home, getting rid of the unit and patching over the hole it leaves is necessary. 

External Dimensions

40ft long, 8ft wide, 8ft 6 in high (12.19m long, 2.44m wide, 2.59m high)

Internal Dimensions

39ft long, 7ft 6in wide, 7ft 5in high (11.58m long, 2.28m wide, 2.26m high)

Door Dimensions

7ft 6in wide, 7ft 5in high (2.34m wide, 2.59m high)

· 40-foot Refrigerated High Cube Container Dimensions

Undoubtedly one of the most important container types in the market, the 40-foot refrigerated high cube container combines the size of a 40ft high cube container and the insulation of a refrigerated container.

The 40ft refrigerated high cube container is perfect for shipping goods such as medicine, food, or vaccines across the globe.

External Dimensions

40ft long, 8ft wide, 9ft 6 in high (12.19m long, 2.44m wide, 2.89m high)

Internal Dimensions

38ft long, 7ft 6in wide, 8ft 5in high (11.58m long, 2.28m wide, 2.57m high)

Door Dimensions

7ft 6in wide, 8ft 5in high (2.28m wide, 2.57m high)

· 45-foot High Cube Container Dimensions

The 45ft high cube container offers huge storage space. They are ideal for transporting heavy and bulky goods. The 45-foot container is basically 40ft container with 2.5ft extensions on each end of the container.

These extensions have corner castings as well. The original corner castings at 40ft corners are there, too, so they can be easily stacked with 40ft containers.

External Dimensions

45ft long, 8ft wide, 9ft 6 in high (13.72m long, 2.44m wide, 2.89m high)

Internal Dimensions

38ft long, 7ft 6in wide, 8ft 5in high (13.56m long, 2.35m wide, 2.70m high)

Door Dimensions

7ft 8in wide, 8ft 6in high (2.28m wide, 2.57m high)

FAQ

· What is the largest size shipping container?

Apart from the common ones we’ve mentioned, there can be not-so-common shipping container sizes. The 53ft shipping container can be considered the largest one. They are one foot taller and six inches wider than their standard versions.

· Are all containers the same width?

As you can see, there are several types of shipping containers with different sizes. However, the 8ft width is an industry standard. So yes, they are all the same width unless they have been customized.

· What is the most commonly used shipping container type?

Dry storage containers are the most commonly used shipping containers. They are used for carrying dry cargo. As mentioned earlier, they come in various dimensions, such as 20ft or 40ft.

Summary

As you can see, there are many different types of shipping containers, and we’ve given you information about some of the most common ones.

Shipping containers come in three standard lengths: 20ft, 40ft, and 45ft. They all share the same width and height but their length difference separates them. The high cube variants have increased height, and all three have high cube versions as well. 

Researching the types and dimensions of a shipping container before purchasing one is crucial. After all, it’s a big purchase and needs to fulfill your needs perfectly.

So, picking the right container is vital whether used for shipping, storage, accommodation, etc. With so many options to choose from, it can be tricky to find the shipping container you need. This article, though, will help you make an informed decision regarding your ideal shipping container dimensions.

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