Understanding Shipping Container Dimensions and Types

International Freight Forwarder

Are you looking to understand the different sizes of shipping containers and how to choose the right one for your needs? This article provides an in-depth look at the specific dimensions and uses of various types of shipping containers. Mastering this information is crucial for optimizing your logistics operations and ensuring the safe transport of your goods.

Discover the characteristics and advantages of each type of container to make the best choice for your shipments. Let’s explore the different sizes of shipping containers and their specific uses to help you select the ideal container.

  • The different types of containers and their dimensions.
  • How to choose a container suitable for your needs?

Different Sizes of Maritime Containers

Maritime containers come in various sizes to meet diverse logistical needs. Ranging from 8 feet to 50 feet, each container type offers specific dimensions tailored to different cargoes.

8ft Container Dimensions

8-foot containers are perfect for small shipments or temporary storage needs.

DimensionInterior (m)Exterior (m)
  • Load Capacity: Approximately 2,500 kg
  • Maximum Weight Supported: Approximately 10,000 kg

Julie Martin, an online store owner, uses an 8-foot container to store her seasonal products:

The compact size is ideal for my temporary storage needs.

10ft Container Dimensions

10-foot containers offer slightly more storage space while remaining compact.

DimensionInterior (m)Exterior (m)
  • Load Capacity: Approximately 2,800 kg
  • Maximum Weight Supported: Approximately 12,000 kg

Marc Dupont, a construction project manager, says:

10-foot containers are perfect for storing our tools and materials on-site.

20ft Container Dimensions

20-foot containers are among the most widely used for maritime transport.

DimensionInterior (m)Exterior (m)
  • Load Capacity: Approximately 25,000 kg
  • Maximum Weight Supported: Approximately 30,000 kg

Sophie Leblanc, director of an import-export company, uses these containers to ship goods to Asia:

The standard 20-foot size perfectly meets our logistical needs.

40ft Container Dimensions

40-foot containers offer twice the space of 20-foot containers, ideal for large volumes.

DimensionInterior (m)Exterior (m)
  • Load Capacity: Approximately 27,600 kg
  • Maximum Weight Supported: Approximately 32,500 kg

Studies show that large companies prefer 40-foot containers for their international shipments due to their increased storage capacity.

50ft Containers and Other Specific Sizes

50-foot containers and other specific sizes, such as 12-foot containers, are used for very particular needs.

DimensionInterior (m)Exterior (m)
  • Load Capacity: Varies by model
  • Maximum Weight Supported: Varies by model

50-foot containers are often used for transporting heavy vehicles or bulky construction materials.

Refrigerated Container Dimensions

Refrigerated containers are vital for transporting perishable goods. Their specific dimensions are influenced by insulation and refrigeration systems. 

Understanding these dimensions is crucial for optimizing storage space and maintaining the cold chain during transport.

Why Do Refrigerated Containers Have Reduced Interior Dimensions?

The interior dimensions of refrigerated containers are smaller than their exterior dimensions due to the integrated insulation and refrigeration systems.

DimensionInterior (m)Exterior (m)

Michel Bernard, a logistics expert, explains:

The thick insulation and refrigeration systems take up space, reducing the usable volume inside.

Cold Storage Container Specifications

Cold rooms integrated into refrigerated containers vary in size but generally offer sufficient storage capacity for perishable products.

DimensionInterior (m)Exterior (m)

Refrigerated containers are commonly used for transporting food, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals that require strict temperature control.

Types of Shipping Containers and Their Uses

Shipping containers differ not only in size but also in type, each designed to meet specific logistical needs. Whether it's high cube, flat rack, or open top, each type is designed to a specific use. 

Discover how their unique characteristics and benefits can help to optimize your shipments.

High Cube Containers

High cube containers are taller than standard containers, offering more loading volume.

DimensionInterior (m)Exterior (m)

Jacques Moreau, logistics director, uses high cube containers to transport large industrial machines:

The extra height is a real advantage for our specific needs.

Flat-Rack and Open-Top Containers

Flat-rack and open-top containers are used for oversized cargo.

TypeDimensions (m)Usage
Flat Rack12.19 x 2.44Transport of heavy machinery
Open Top12.19 x 2.44Top loading, bulky goods

Industry Standards and References: ISO standards establish the dimensions and capacities of flat-rack and open-top containers to ensure safe and efficient transport.

Frequently Asked Questions About Maritime Containers

Find out the answers to common questions about shipping containers, including their types, dimensions, uses, and standards. This essential information guarantees you to choose the right container for your logistics and commercial needs.

What is a GP or HC in Shipping Container terms?

GP stands for General Purpose, referring to standard containers used for most dry goods.

Jean-Pierre Lefèvre, a logistics specialist, clarifies:

GP containers are versatile and meet the needs of most commercial shipments.

What does RQ mean in shipping?

An RQ (Reefer Container) is used for transporting perishable goods requiring controlled temperatures. RQ containers are essential for the food industry, maintaining the cold chain during transport.

How to Inspect a Container?

To inspect a container, check for structural integrity, seal tightness, interior cleanliness, security seals, and markings. Use checklists to ensure a thorough inspection.

Claire Martin, a logistics expert, advises:

A meticulous inspection is essential to avoid costly issues along the way.

Need an optimized logistics solutions?

Understanding the specific dimensions and uses of each container type is crucial to optimizing your transportation operations. Do not hesitate to contact our experts for personalized advice and suitable logistics solutions. 

For more information and answers to all your ocean freight questions, see our Ocean Freight FAQ . We are committed to providing quality solutions to meet all your shipping needs.


Worldgistic is the number one international freight forwarder in Southeast Asia and Europe. With over 15 years of experience and a team of qualified experts, choose Worldgistic!

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