Shipping Container Vs Storage Container: What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between shipping containers vs. storage containers?

When it comes to talking about containers, you may hear them called shipping containers.

Or maybe you’ve heard them called as storage containers.

But which is which?

In this article, we’ll look at the difference between shipping containers vs storage containers and why they can be called both.

What is a Shipping Container?


A shipping container is an ISO steel container that is able to withstand shipment, storage, and handling. Shipping containers are normally synonymous with intermodal freight containers.

Southwest Mobile Storage Shipping Container

Shipping containers are built and designed for freight transport, allowing them to be sturdy, resilient, and resistant to many weather conditions.

What is a Storage Container?


A storage container is a shipping container that is available in many different sizes and can be made from various materials.

Southwest Mobile Storage storage container

Storage containers are primarily designed for projects that need storage, such as construction sites, home renovation, or moving.

Shipping container vs storage container – what’s the difference?


So what exactly is the difference between a shipping container vs a storage container?

The answer is not much.

A storage container is actually just another term when discussing shipping containers.

Other common names include:

  • Conex box
  • Cargo container
  • Sea van
  • Ocean container

All of these terms refer to ISO steel shipping containers.

You may also hear the term ‘shipping storage container’, which is a shipping container that’s being used for storage.

Modifications and customizations


As mentioned earlier, storage containers come in a variety of different sizes. This means you can rent or buy the right sized container for whatever project you need.

Shipping containers usually come in standard sizes of 10-feet, 20-feet, and 40-feet. While these are the most common sizes, these containers can also be modified or customized.

The Snackbox in New York City

Shipping containers can of course be used for more than just storage. With modifications or customizations, you can create unique and new layouts.

What can you do with a modified or customized container?

A lot!

For example, a retail store can use a container to store any extra inventory they have in stock.

A business can use a mobile office made from containers as a temporary workspace.

At Southwest Mobile Storage, our on-site fabrication center can easily customize or modify a shipping container to fit just about any project.

Southwest Mobile Storage Onsite Facility

We’ve provided containers for several different industries, including:

  • Schools
  • Retail stores
  • Healthcare
  • Government & military
  • General contracting & construction

We’ve previously looked at how shipping containers are being used for restaurants, hotels, and mobile offices.

You can even use shipping containers to build homes!

In this article, we looked at the difference between shipping containers vs storage containers. These terms are often interchangeable with each other, but they mean the same thing.

Shipping containers have come a long way from being just transport options and opportunities. Their rise in popularity have allowed for interesting setups.

Using storage containers for a project is a great way of keeping items safe when not in use. And using security locks can help keep those items secure.

If you’re looking for a storage container for your project, contact us today at 800.686.9114 and one of our storage experts will help you get the right container for your needs.