Call Us 02 8544 8986

Tap To Call
Home » Shipping Containers » What size shipping container do I need?

What size shipping container do I need?

Shipping Containers Overseas? Which Size do you Choose?.

When selecting a shipping container for overseas sea freight, the most common factor is container size. This will usually come down to whether you will want a 40′ or 20′ container. There are other types of overseas shipping containers available, however, they are typically only relevant for specialised logistics.

Much of this decision will be based upon the volume of goods you want to transport. The internal storage capacity of the chosen container, or containers, will partially determine your requirements.

Whilst we can provide you with more specific technical information, the basic standard dimensions, as mentioned above are either 20ft or 40ft long. The widths for these standard shipping containers are the same and the heights come in two variations;

  • 20ft or 40ft long x 8ft wide x 8ft 6inches high. These are known as “GP” or General Purpose shipping containers.
  • 20ft or 40ft long x 8ft wide x 9ft 6inches high. These are known as “HQ” or High Cube containers.

Whilst it does not seem like much, the additional foot of headroom in the HQ containers provides approximately 13 percent more capacity. Be aware, though, that the High Cube shipping containers are less commonly available than the General Purpose containers.

Volume Estimations for Shipping Overseas

If you are importing or exporting commercial goods you will generally have a reasonable idea of the volume those goods will take up. You simply need to consider box or pallet dimensions when calculating capacity. Multiply this by your total shipment size to determine the overall required volume. If you are shipping non-standard cargo it may be important to look at maximum dimensions to ensure items will fit into a standard container. If not, you may need to consider more specialised logistics to ship your goods overseas.

If you are relocating and moving overseas by sea freight, however, estimating volume is a more difficult proposition. As a general rule of thumb, it is accepted that a 20′ container is large enough for the contents of a ‘normal’ 3-bedroom house. If you want to take your car, boat or other vehicles, you are more likely to need a 40′ container. If you are wanting a shipping container for self-pack moving you’ll also need to consider your packing efficiency. Goods should be packed to ensure little movement during transportation whilst maintaining sufficient protection against jolts and vibration.

Factory Relocations

Of course, estimating size and volume requirements for factory relocations is another ball-game entirely. There are a multitude of factors to consider before you can begin moving to your new location.

If your company is looking at a factory relocation you’ll need to speak to freight specialists such as ourselves. It is important to contact us early in the relocation process so that we can produce an effective freight plan for you. We can also advise on the entire relocation process so you can avoid damaging or costly mistakes.

Other Factors For Choosing an Overseas Shipping Container.

Internal storage capacity should not be the only reason to choose a specific container size, however. Sometimes it may be necessary to break loads down into two smaller containers rather than a single larger one.

After the choice of 20ft shipping container vs 40ft, the decision can get much more complicated. Of course, we are here to help.

The questions you need to ask yourself are;

What is the end destination for the container (and it’s contents)?
Whilst the vast majority of ports globally can handle both 20′ and 40′ shipping containers, your goods may need to travel onwards from the port. Transportation and infrastructure at the destination may be of concern, especially with regard to the 40ft containers. For example; some Pacific Island countries will struggle to handle 40′ containers outside of the port.

What is the availability of specific shipping containers?
We will not have any difficulty sourcing standard GP containers, however, HQ containers are less commonly available. This will need to work with your timeframe for shipping.

Do you want to buy a shipping container or just lease for the period of transportation?
The cost to buy a shipping container may become a factor. Additionally, if you purchase a container, where will it be stored long-term? See our guide to buying a shipping container.

Estimating Sea Freight Costs

Your sea freight costs for the shipping lines and/or purchase of containers are dependent on what you require. We can assist with the lease or purchase of a shipping container plus arranging all your freight logistics.

If you required more specialised logistics, for something like factory relocations for instance, we can create customised freight plans covering all aspects of the move.

There are no hard and fast rules, and each set of circumstances will be unique. Please contact us to discuss your requirements and options.