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How Much Does a Shipping Container Weigh?

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Shipping containers are an essential part of the global supply chain. They are used to store and transport goods worldwide. Shipping container weight can significantly impact shipping costs and the safety of the material stored inside.

In this blog, we cover the weights of different container sizes, tell you how much you can store inside shipping containers, and help you overcome some challenges that can arise when loading a container.

To give a quick answer, the average weight of an empty 20ft shipping container is 2½ tons. However, keep reading, and we’ll describe the weight differences between several types of containers.

Where Can I Find the Weight of a Container?

While containers differ in weight depending on their size, you can find the weight of a container, even if you don’t know the exact size. The weight of each container is displaying outside the cargo doors on standard containers. Here, three weights are detailed on the exterior of the cargo doors: the tare weight, the gross weight and the payload.

Tare Weight

The tare weight is the weight of the shipping container when it’s empty. The tare weight, set by shipping lines, can differ depending on the materials used in construction.

Gross Weight

The gross weight is the combined weight of the container and the cargo being transported. You can calculate the gross weight of a container by adding the payload weight to the tare weight. The maximum gross weight for 20ft, 40ft and 40ft high cube containers is 79,370 lbs.


The payload weight is the weight of stored material. It can be calculated by deducting the tare weight from the gross weight.

Stacked shipping containers in a line.
Shipping containers can bear a lot of weight. In fact, they can be stacked nine containers high. This is because containers have corner castings, which can be locked together with other castings in order to secure them.

Container Weight by Size

20ft Containers

Empty Container Weight: ~5,000 lbs.

(Payload) Net Weight: 62,420 lbs.

40ft Containers

Empty Container Weight: ~8,000 lbs.

(Payload) Net Weight: 58,930 lbs.

40ft High Cube Containers

Empty Container Weight: ~8,500 lbs.

(Payload) Net Weight: 60,000 lbs.

How Much Can I Fit Inside a Shipping Container?

The amount of storage space inside a shipping container depends on the container’s size. The following are descriptions of how much storage space each container can hold.

How Much Can I Fit Inside a 10ft Shipping Container?

A 10ft container can store the complete contents of a single room. With a storage space of 680 ft³, a container of this size can store tools, sports equipment, furniture or other small- to medium-sized items that need to be protected from the elements.

How Much Can I Fit Inside a 20ft Shipping Container?

A 20ft container can store the contents of a one to two bedroom apartment. It has an interior storage space of 1,360 ft. If you’re transitioning your storage from a self-storage facility, a 20ft container offers similar, if not more, storage space for an affordable price.

How Much Can I Fit Inside a 40ft Shipping Container?

A 40ft container can store the contents of four bedrooms. It has an interior storage space of 2,720 ft³. 40ft high cube containers have a little more storage because of their extra foot of vertical space, coming in with 3,040 ft³ of storage space.

40ft containers can be used on jobsites, at retail store locations, and anywhere you need to store a large amount of cargo. High-cube containers are handy for storing tall items or bulky cargo.

Several shipping containers sitting in a lot.
So long as a container is unloaded, we can move it. Additionally, we can move most loaded 20ft containers.

How Are Shipping Containers Transported?

Shipping containers have revolutionized global transport because of their incredible portability. Forklifts can pick them up and move them to ships, trains, trucks and more. While containers have many transportation options, we typically deliver containers on flatbed trailers.

Containers are loaded onto trailers by tilting the bed and pulling the container into position before tilting the trailer back to a horizontal position. Because of this, you need to make sure that objects will not slide or collide with other stored material when the container is tilted.

After the container is tied down, it can be transported where needed.

Does the Size of a Shipping Container Affect Its Portability?

Containers over 20 feet long cannot be moved while loaded with standard forklifts and truck winches. These containers must be unloaded before they can be moved. However, we can move most loaded 20ft units without issue.

How to Choose the Right Shipping Container for Your Needs

First,  assess the weight limitations and regulations of the transportation method you’ll be using. If you intend on using the container for cargo use, different modes of transport, such as sea freight or air cargo, have specific weight restrictions that must be adhered to. You don’t have to worry about this if you intend to use the container for storage space.

Next, evaluate the weight of your cargo. Determine the total weight of the items you need to transport and factor in any potential variations or fluctuations that may occur during transit.

It’s crucial to select a shipping container that can safely accommodate the weight of your cargo without exceeding weight limits. This will help prevent damage to your goods and ensure a smooth and secure journey.


Understanding container weights can help you make an informed decision about what size container is the best choice for you. Select a shipping container that can safely secure the weight of your cargo without exceeding weight limits to ensure a smooth and secure journey. By understanding the impact container weight has on storage, you can make an informed decision and optimize the efficiency and safety of your storage operations.

If you need more clarification on what container is right for you, call us today and speak with a representative that can help you identify the best solution to solve your problems. If you’d prefer to have us contact you, fill out this form, and we’ll be able to assist you.

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