Freight 101 Library

Shipping Container Dimensions: Container, Pallet and Box Sizes

Lost in the mess of TEUs, LD1s, and pallets? Get definitions and dimensions for freight containers, pallets, and boxes right here.

Lost in the mess of TEUs, LD1s, and pallets?

Navigating the intricacies of the logistics and shipping world can often feel like you’re lost in a sea of acronyms and dimensions. Terms like TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units), LD1s, and pallets can sound like a foreign language to the uninitiated. Let’s break down these definitions and dimensions to demystify the world of freight containers, pallets, and boxes.

TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units): TEUs are a standard measurement for container capacity in the shipping industry. They represent the volume of a standard 20-foot-long shipping container. These containers are commonly used to transport goods globally, and their size is a critical factor in determining shipping costs and capacity.

LD1s: LD1s, or “Lower Deck Containers 1,” are specialized containers designed for air cargo. They are designed to fit snugly in the lower deck of wide-body aircraft, optimizing the use of space. LD1s come in different dimensions and are essential for efficiently transporting goods via air freight.

Pallets: Pallets are a fundamental component of shipping and logistics. They are wooden or plastic platforms on which goods are stacked and secured. Pallets come in various sizes, with the most common being the standard 48×40 inches. They not only facilitate the efficient loading and unloading of cargo but also play a crucial role in warehouse storage and transportation.

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Ocean Container Sizes

Ocean containers come in a variety of sizes, from the standard to the more specialized.

20ft Container Capacity

Also known as a TEU (20-foot equivalent unit), a 20ft container is the smallest shipping container.

ModeContainerDescription
Ocean ContainersFull 20′ container (TEU FCL)Standard twenty-foot container that is loaded and unloaded under the risk and account of the shipper or consignee.
Ocean Containers20′ flat rackTwenty-foot open-topped and open-sided unit that fits into an existing below-deck container and is used for oversized cargo and wheeled or tracked vehicles.
Ocean Containers20′ refrigeratedTwenty-foot refrigerated shipping container for transporting perishables having its own stand-alone (self-powered) cooling system.
Ocean Containers20′ non operative reefer (NOR)Twenty-foot refrigerated shipping container having its own stand-alone (self-powered) cooling system that is non operative.
Ocean Containers20′ ISO tank containerTwenty-foot container or tanktainer that is an intermodal container for the transport of liquids gases and powders as bulk cargo.
Ocean Containers20′ open topTwenty-foot container fitted with a solid removable roof or with a tarpaulin roof that can be loaded or unloaded from the top.

How Many Pallets & Boxes Fit In A 20 Foot Container?

The average number of pallets that fit in a standard 20ft container is 10. 

A standard pallet can fit 60 boxes, so if a container fits 10 pallets of 60 boxes on average, the number of boxes in a 20ft container is 600.

40ft Container Dimensions

Also known as an FEU (40-foot equivalent unit), a 40ft container is the equivalent of two TEUs.

ModeContainerDescription
Ocean ContainersFull 40′ container (FEU FCL)Standard forty-foot container that is loaded and unloaded under the risk and account of the shipper or consignee.
Ocean ContainersFull 40’HC container (FCL)Hi-cube forty-foot container that is loaded and unloaded under the risk and account of the shipper or consignee.
Ocean Containers40′ flat rackForty-foot open-topped and open-sided unit that fits into an existing below-deck container and is used for oversized cargo and wheeled or tracked vehicles.
Ocean Containers40′ refrigeratedForty-foot refrigerated shipping container for transporting perishables having its own stand-alone (self-powered) cooling system.
Ocean Containers40’HC refrigeratedHi-cube forty-foot refrigerated container that is used for transporting perishables having its own stand-alone (self-powered) cooling system.
Ocean Containers40′ non operative reefer (NOR)Forty-foot refrigerated shipping container having its own stand-alone (self-powered) cooling system that is non operative.
Ocean Containers40’HC non operative reefer (NOR)Hi-cube forty-foot refrigerated shipping container having its own stand-alone (self-powered) cooling system that is non operative.
Ocean Containers40′ ISO tank containerForty-foot container or tanktainer that is an intermodal container for the transport of liquids gases and powders as bulk cargo.
Ocean Containers40′ open topForty-foot container fitted with a solid removable roof or with a tarpaulin roof that can be loaded or unloaded from the top.
Ocean Containers40’HC open topHi-cube forty-foot container fitted with a solid removable roof or with a tarpaulin roof that can be loaded or unloaded from the top.

How Many Pallets & Boxes Fit In A 40 Foot Container?

The average number of pallets that fit in a standard 40ft container is 20. 

A standard pallet can fit 60 boxes, so if a container fits 20 pallets of 60 boxes on average, the number of boxes in a 40ft container is 1200.

Other Ocean Container Sizes

ModeContainerDescription
Ocean ContainersFull 45’HC container (FCL)Hi-cube forty five-foot container that is loaded and unloaded under the risk and account of the shipper or consignee.
Ocean ContainersDrum(Barrels) Cylindrical container used for shipping liquids and powders and is often certified for shipment of dangerous goods.
Ocean ContainersRo roRoll-on/roll-off ships are vessels designed to carry wheeled cargo such as automobiles and trucks.
Ocean ContainersContainer48Forty eight-foot hi-cube container.
Ocean ContainersContainer53Fifty three-foot hi-cube container.

Air Freight Container Types

Air containers come in standard sizes that make air freight more efficient and secure.

ModeContainerDescription
Air ShippingLD192″ wide contoured half width container used for a wide-body aircraft.
Air ShippingLD261.5″ wide contoured half width container used for a wide-body aircraft.”
Air ShippingLD379″ wide contoured half width container used for a wide-body aircraft. Dimension are according to IATA.
Air ShippingLD788″/96″ wide contoured full width container used for a wide-body aircraft.
Air ShippingLD6160″ wide contoured full width container used for a wide-body aircraft. (equivalent to 2 LD3s)
Air ShippingLD8125″ wide contoured full width container used for a wide-body aircraft. (equivalent to 2 LD2s)
Air ShippingLD11125″ wide full width container used for a wide-body aircraft. (same as LD6 but without contours; rectangular)

Pallet Sizes

Portable platform on which goods can be moved, stacked, and stored. See the pallet sizes for containers available below. 

ModeContainerDescription
PalletsEUR1/ISO1 pallet (80×120cm)Standard pallet with the dimensions 80 X 120 cm.
PalletsEUR2/ISO2 pallet (120×100cm)Standard pallet with the dimensions 100 X 120 cm.
Pallets48″x40″ pallet48″ Long x 40″ Wide wood pallet is the most common size stringer pallet.

Other Shipping Containers

ModeContainerDescription
OtherBoxContainer with a flat base and sides typically square or rectangular and having a lid.
OtherEnvelopeFlat paper container with a sealable flap used to enclose a letter or document.
OtherBreak bulkSystem of transporting cargo as separate pieces rather than in containers.
OtherRollContainer that can be carried by trucks and can be pushed to ground level by help of a hook and level arm with the container possibly sliding on roller wheels.

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