Shipping container units represent one of the most integral parts of the global  shipping industry, as international freight forwarders use containers to ensure a safe arrival of goods from location to location. These shipping containers are the structures that store all of the various materials and products being shipped worldwide. Transporting in containers protects contents on the long journeys overseas, and to your doorstep in one piece. 

In order to accommodate the plethora of goods being shipped, there are dozens of different containers that have been made in multiple sizes, materials, and construction. 

What are the sizes of shipping containers?

As mentioned above, depending on the type of materials to be shipped, container units may vary in size, weight, and type.  All of the standard container types  being used today are required to  meet certain shipping regulations. Some of the most common types of shipping containers in use today are mentioned below.

We try to be as accurate as possible, but the actual dimensions may vary depending on manufacturer and international conversions. 

The Most Common Shipping Container Types

Dry Containers – Dry Containers are the most commonly used containers in the world, and are used for transporting most of the world’s products. They are available in standard sizes of 10 feet, 20 feet, and 40 feet (external dimensions).

Open Top Shipping Containers – Open top containers do not have a roof and instead use a removable tarp-like cover that can be secured down if needed. Open Tops greatly simplify the loading and unloading process as cranes and rolling bridges can be used with it. These containers are ideal for tall, oversized and bulky items.

Flat Rack Shipping Containers – Flat Rack containers are used to load very large items like construction equipment, building supplies, and other heavy machinery. These containers have 2 sides that can be folded up or down to accommodate different cargo options.

Open Side Shipping Containers – Open side containers have extra doors that can open the entire side of the container, from end to end. This allows for the storage of extra wide items that wouldn’t easily fit through normal doors. This container type also provides enhanced loading and unloading capabilities. 

Tunnel Shipping Containers – Tunnel containers are similar to a dry container, but they also have openings on both ends, just like tunnels. With two ends open, tunnel containers provide increased loading/unloading options and a huge amount of space if needed.  

Refrigerated ISO Shipping Containers – Refrigerated ISO Containers (reefer containers) are used to preserve temperature sensitive goods, by using external power to regulate the internal temperature. These units are ideal for temperature sensitive shipments such as fruits, vegetables, and other perishable goods.

Insulated Shipping Containers – Similar to the refrigerated ISO containers, insulated (or thermal) containers allow for very precise regulated temperature management. These units are constructed to withstand much greater temperature extremes than normal containers. In addition to perishable foods, these containers are ideal for pharmaceuticals, biological materials, and other chemicals.

Cargo Storage Roll Shipping Containers – Cargo Storage Roll containers are made of thick and durable mesh rollers, so they are foldable and can be transported easily. They are commonly used to transport sets or stacks of heavy cargo.

Half Height Shipping Containers – Half height containers are half of the height of a full sized dry containers. They are designed for transporting cargo that is extremely heavy and dense, such as coal, gravel, and sand. They also have a lower center of gravity, allowing them to handle heavier loads than normal.
Car Carrier Shipping Containers – Car carrier containers are units designed specifically to safely transport cars and other specialty vehicles over long distances. Some of the larger units have a ramp in the middle to allow for the stacking of two different vehicles if needed.