Freight 101 Library

Shipping 20ft and 40ft Sea Containers: Specs & Weight

When it comes to ocean freight, 20ft and 40ft shipping containers are the standard units that carry goods across the globe. Whether you’re a seasoned importer or new to international shipping, understanding the specs, weight, and capacity of these mighty metal boxes is crucial for planning and executing seamless shipments. In this post, we’ll dive into the details of 20ft and 40ft containers so you can make informed decisions and optimize your supply chain. Let’s get ship done!

20ft Shipping Container

A 20ft shipping container, also known as a Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU), is the smaller of the two standard container sizes. These containers are perfect for shipping smaller volumes of goods or when your cargo doesn’t require the full capacity of a 40ft container. 

When shipping a 20ft container, it’s important to consider factors like the type of goods you’re transporting, your budget, and your timeline. 20ft containers offer more flexibility for smaller shipments and can be more cost-effective than shipping partially filled 40ft containers. Learn more about TEUs in our 20ft container glossary post.

40ft Shipping Container

For larger volumes, the 40ft shipping container is the way to go. With double the capacity of a 20ft container, 40ft containers are ideal for bulky or oversized cargo, or when you need to transport a higher quantity of goods.

When considering a 40ft container for your shipment, think about the dimensions and weight of your cargo to ensure it will fit safely and efficiently. You’ll also want to factor in the potential cost savings of shipping a full 40ft container compared to multiple 20ft containers. Proper planning is key to making the most of this larger container size.

20ft & 40ft Shipping Container Specs

To make informed decisions about which container size is right for your shipment, it’s essential to understand the specifications of both 20ft and 40ft containers. Let’s take a closer look at the weight and dimensions of these ocean freight workhorses.

20ft Shipping Container Weight

A standard 20ft shipping container typically has a maximum gross weight of around 24,000 kg (52,910 lbs), which includes the weight of the container itself and the cargo inside. The empty weight of a 20ft container is approximately 2,300 kg (5,070 lbs), leaving about 21,700 kg (47,840 lbs) for your cargo.

It’s crucial to accurately calculate the weight of your goods to avoid exceeding the container’s capacity. Overweight containers can lead to additional fees, delays, and even safety issues during transport. Use our handy cubic meter calculator to estimate your shipment’s volume and ensure it fits within the container’s limits.

40ft Shipping Container Weight

The maximum gross weight for a standard 40ft shipping container is around 30,480 kg (67,200 lbs). With an empty weight of approximately 3,750 kg (8,265 lbs), a 40ft container can accommodate up to 26,730 kg (58,935 lbs) of cargo.

As with 20ft containers, it’s essential to calculate the total weight of your shipment accurately to prevent overloading the container. Our chargeable & volumetric weight calculator is a useful tool for determining if your cargo will fit comfortably within a 40ft container.

What Are the Dimensions of a 20ft and 40ft Shipping Container?

20ft containers have external dimensions of 6.06m (19′ 10.5″) in length, 2.44m (8′ 0″) in width, and 2.59m (8′ 6″) in height. Internally, they measure 5.89m (19′ 4″) long, 2.35m (7′ 8.5″) wide, and 2.39m (7′ 10″) high. The doorway opening is 2.34m (7′ 8″) wide and 2.28m (7′ 6″) high.

40ft containers have external dimensions of 12.19m (40′ 0″) in length, 2.44m (8′ 0″) in width, and 2.59m (8′ 6″) in height. The internal dimensions are 12.02m (39′ 5″) long, 2.35m (7′ 8.5″) wide, and 2.39m (7′ 10″) high. The door opening measures the same as a 20ft container.

What Fits in a 20ft and 40ft Container?

A 20ft container can typically hold around 10 standard pallets or 11 Euro pallets, with a total volume of approximately 33 cubic meters (1,172 cubic feet). This container size is suitable for smaller shipments, such as a one to two-bedroom apartment’s worth of belongings or a small to medium-sized vehicle.

A 40ft container, on the other hand, can accommodate around 22 standard pallets or 24 Euro pallets, with a total volume of roughly 67 cubic meters (2,366 cubic feet). This larger size is perfect for shipping the contents of a three to four-bedroom house, larger vehicles, or substantial commercial shipments.

To maximize space and minimize costs, it’s essential to plan your container loading strategy carefully. Proper packing, stacking, and securing of goods will ensure your cargo arrives safely and efficiently at its destination.

How to Ship a 20ft and 40ft Container

Shipping a 20ft or 40ft container with Freightos is a breeze. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started:

1. Get a free instant quote: Enter your shipment details, including origin, destination, and cargo specifics, into our online form for an instant, no-obligation quote.

2. Choose your service: Compare rates, transit times, and carrier options to find the best fit for your shipment.

3. Book your shipment: Confirm your shipment details and make a secure online payment to lock in your booking.

4. Prepare your cargo: Pack, label, and document your goods according to international shipping standards and any specific carrier requirements.

5. Track your shipment: Use our real-time tracking tools to monitor your container’s journey from origin to destination.

With Freightos, shipping 20ft and 40ft containers is simpler than ever. Our user-friendly platform, expert support, and transparent pricing make us the go-to choice for businesses looking to streamline their international shipping process.

Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of 20ft and 40ft container specs, weight, and shipping best practices, you’re ready to take on the world of ocean freight with confidence. Get started today with a free quote from Freightos.

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Jude Abraham

Jude Abraham is Freightos’ Content Marketing Lead, a seasoned high-tech storyteller and marketing strategist who has created award-winning content for global brands. Off the clock, Jude revels in the complex flavors of spicy curries, savors the balanced notes of an Old Fashioned, and spends countless hours indulging his fascination with ancient esoteric books.

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