Shipping Container Dimensions and Sizes

A Variety of Sizes

A lot of people are curious about shipping container dimensions. How long, high or wide are they? Here, at getSimpleBox, we rent and sell a wide variety of shipping containers. 20 foot and 40 foot containers are the most common sizes. Typically, these offer the best price per square foot of storage space.

Typical Shipping Container Dimensions and Weights

ISO Shipping Containers used in North America are typically made in the standard sizes of 8’ wide, 8’6” high, and either 20 ft or 40 ft long.

40 foot containers are the most common size, seen on cargo ships, freight trains, and semi-truck chassis.

20 foot containers are the most popular for renting. Some custom-sized shipping containers are manufactured in lengths as short as 8 feet or as long as 45’, 48’ and even 53’ long. High-cube (Hi Cube) containers are one foot taller in height at 9 feet, 6 inches tall.

Below is a handy chart that shows the standard weights and dimensions of shipping containers. Because there are a variety of container sizes and manufacturers around the world, keep in mind that the exact dimensions of your container may vary from this list. Visit us at any one of our Simple Box locations and we can get more precise measurements for the container you choose.

Shipping Container Parts and Components

Steel Construction

Most Intermodal Containers are made of Corten Steel (or weathering steel) which is designed to help scrapes, dings and dents better withstand the weather by forming a “protective” layer of hard rust (which is possibly the first time rust has ever been described as a good thing!).

Corrugated Walls

The reason shipping container walls are corrugated is to make them stronger. The corrugation in the 14-gauge steel walls give the container stacking strength. Some containers can be stacked and fully-loaded up to 8 stories high.

Solid Floors

Shipping Container floors vary somewhat, although most new Simple Box containers feature an inch and a quarter plywood or bamboo floor. Older containers may have a combination of marine-grade plywood and steel flooring.

Cargo Doors and Door Seal

Two full-width cargo doors provide a large opening on one end of the container. A thick rubber gasket that goes around both cargo doors, sealing the opening tightly and keeping the elements out.  

CSC Plate

CSC refers to the International Convention for Safe Containers. This is the international agreement for maintaining containers in safe condition. The CSC plate is a stamp of approval signifying that after examination and witnessing of tests, the CSC Administration is satisfied that the container meets current requirements. The CSC Plate is usually on the left-hand cargo door of the container. A cargo-worthy container that has been surveyed and re-certified will receive a stamp or label to place on the CSC plate, signifying the time the certification will be valid for.

Certification and Surveying

We will arrange to have a Box re-surveyed and certified for a fee. All re-surveying must happen in the port or depot, so it is most cost-effective for a customer to get a Box surveyed in advance, rather than choosing one in our yard and having us haul it back to the port for surveying.

MGW or Maximum Gross Weight

This measurement as well as other specifications can be found on the doors of the container or on the CSC plate.


Shipping Container Types and Conditions

Containers go by many names. Also, there is a wide range of shipping container dimensions. ISO, cargo containers and shipping containers are the terms generally used. Connex or conex is a military term meaning the same.


A one-trip container is a container that was manufactured overseas (typically in China), filled with goods and then shipped to North America with the intent of being sold right away as a “new” container. By having a shipper use the container for a single load (it has just made “one-trip” across the ocean), the cost to get a new container in North America is reduced significantly. We pass these savings along to our customers.

Because they have not had much use, they are usually free from rust and large dents. However, they have made one trip here on a ship, as well as, handled by a forklift, truck, and trailer. Therefore, they may have some minor blemishes like scrapes or small dings. In our industry, we typically consider a one-trip container to be in “New” or “Like-new” condition for the first 5 years of its life.

IICL (the best available Used Containers)

Refers to the Institute of International Container Lessors. The IICL maintains a Guide for Container Equipment Inspection which determines a high standard for containers that are in a Leasing Company fleet. The high standard ensures quality and consistency which makes it easier to maintain, certify, and insure the fleet.

CW / Cargo Worthy (can be shipped overseas)

Containers that are Cargo Worthy are used to go overseas again. Cargo worthy containers must meet standards of structural strength. In other words, they must be wind and water-tight. Also, they contain all of the proper markings to receive a certification for export use. Above all, containers meeting IICL 5 standards are generally better quality than containers that are labeled only as cargo worthy.

WWT or Wind/Water Tight (no holes)

This identifies a used container to be dry and suitable for storage with no leaks. In port, this classification is a lower grade than Cargo-worthy and may be As-Is condition. Unfortunately, many sellers promote “wind and water-tight” as being great condition, however, it should be the minimum standard.

AS-IS (rough shape and possibly damaged)

This condition should alert the buyer that there might be minor to major damage to the container. Also, it is expensive to repair these types of containers. Therefore, we do not stock As-is containers because we don’t want our customers receiving a damaged Box.

Other Types of Containers:

HC / High-Cube / Hi-Cube

Refers to “high-cube” containers that are one foot taller than standard containers. High-Cube containers are 9 feet 6 inches high (9’6″).

DV / Dry Van

Standard Containers are often simply called Dry Van. This should not be confused with a van body or cargo trailer with wheels.

FR or F/R or Flat Rack

A Flat Rack is designed with no roof or side walls, but has a collapsible end wall. It is used as a platform to ship bulkier or non-standard items that would not normally fit inside a shipping container. Flat Racks are often in limited supply and cost several thousand dollars more than a standard container.

OT or O/T or Open Top Container

This container has either a hard plastic or softer tarp covering on the roof of the container.  Therefore, it looks more like a dump-truck body. These specialty containers are often in limited supply and cost several thousand dollars more than a standard container.

OS or Open Side (or curtain side) Container

Some containers are available with curtains instead of steel side walls. Others are sold with doors along the side. Also, there are open side containers that are in limited supply. Furthermore, these will cost several thousand dollars more than a standard container. The reason for the extra expense is the combination of extra doors, extra steel reinforcement, and extra care in handling. This is needed for all of these types of containers in the process, from the shipping line to the depot.


Shipping Container Terms and Definitions:


Stands for “Free On Board” and typically designates that no freight or delivery fees have been calculated into the agreement. For example, “FOB Seattle” would mean that the price is considered complete at the seller’s loading dock. Any additional trucking or handling fees are the buyer’s responsibility to arrange and pay.


International Organization for Standardisation means all of our containers are designed and built according to ISO standards. Everything, from the exact shipping container dimensions and weights, to the location of the door handles. As well as, the type of paint and flooring, type of steel, and even the numbering system for container identification.


Lastly, there is SOC, which is a Shipper’s Own Container. In other words, the shipper owns the container, rather than, using one of the shipping company’s containers. It is very important that the Shipping Container has a CSC plate. MTC stands for “Move Their Container”. In other words, we relocate a container that is owned by the customer to a new location.