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20-Foot Shipping Container

Two characters measuring cargo to decide whether a 20 foot container is enough for the cargo.
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Updated on 09 Feb 20222 min read

The standard 20-foot container or “dry van” is one of the most commonly-used containers for the shipment of goods in ocean freight along with the 40-foot container. Our cubic meter calculator will let you know the exact space needed for your cargo. Dimensions of the 20-foot container

The 20-foot container’s dimensions are usually measured using the imperial system (feet) and specifies both the exterior dimensions and the interior (usable) dimensions.

The dimensions of a 20-foot container are:

  • Exterior Dimensions (in feet): 20’ long x 8’ wide x 8’ 6” high
  • Exterior Dimensions (in meters): 6.10m long x 2.44m wide x 2.59m high
  • Interior Dimensions (in feet): 19’ 4” long x 7’ 9” wide x 7’ 10” high
  • Internal Dimensions (in meters): 5.898m long x 2.352m wide x 2.393m high
  • Usable Capacity: 32.6m3

How many pallets can fit into a 20-foot container?

Character calculating how many pallets fit into a 20-foot container for internartional shipping with Shipa Freight

In terms of Euro pallet types (European pallets) of which dimensions are 1.2m x 0.8m, the base of the 20-foot container can hold up to 11 Euro pallet stacks as long as the load is not hanging over the sides. Generally, the optimal way of fitting pallets inside the container is with one row along the length and another row along the width.

For the standard American pallet type with dimensions 40” x 48” (1.016m x 1.219m), the base of a standard 20-foot container can hold 10 pallets as long as the load is not hanging over the sides.

What’s the maximum load for a 20-foot container?

Containers that represent the maximum weight that can be loaded on a 20 foot container when shipping internationally with Shipa Freight

A 20-foot container’s unloaded weight is 2,300 kg and can, in theory, be loaded to a maximum weight of 28 tons (25,400kg). However, this would depend in large part on possible restrictions and/or limitations of the shipping line, the nature of the cargo, and specific details of the shipment.

You may use our platform to find the best prices for your FCL or LCL shipping needs.

Container Capacities Can Vary Per Country

Different countries may have different specifications and limits when it comes to container capacity. For example, the U.S. has lower weight limits, and exceeding them can bring additional costs.

To avoid extra charges, the shipper can opt to ship their parcel only up to the port and have the consignee engage his own transport arrangements and provide all the required permits. This agreement should be outlined in the sales agreement and must be permitted by the Incoterms used in the transaction.

Another option is for the shipper to do research on the capacity and weight limits in the country they are shipping to. This enables them to make the necessary arrangements and adjustments should their container weigh more than what is allowed by the country of destination.

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