International Shipping Container Sizes Explained

International Shipping Container Sizes Explained

When you are moving a whole household overseas, you’ll need an international shipping freight container. But one size does not fit all. Someone moving out of a small apartment doesn’t need the same size shipping container as someone packing up everything in their four-bedroom house. So one of the first things to figure out is what size freight container do you need to move your items.

Freight containers sizes are standard, so you can compare like with like when you are getting shipping quotes. Many people find they have so much stuff that shipping it as individual boxes is not practical, but they don’t have enough to fill even the smallest shipping container. No problem – the solution is to use part of a container. In the logistics industry, this is known as a ‘less than container load’ or LCL. 

Standard Sizes for Shipping Containers

Normally, freight containers of any length are 8 feet wide, which is just shy of 2.5 metres. The standard height is 8.5 feet, which is slightly over 2.5 metres. This is a little taller than the average room height in a terraced house. Taller containers are known as ‘high cube’, which is shortened to HQ. These are 9.5 feet tall, which is almost 3 metres.

Standard shipping container sizes are:

  • The smallest is 20 foot / 6 meters long.
  • The next size up is twice that at  40 foot/ 12.2 meters long.
  • The longest is 45 foot / 13.7 meters long.

The challenge is to translate those sizes to the size of your home so you can plan and budget appropriately. This is where it gets more complicated!

What Size Shipping Container Do You Need?

The smallest shipping container has a cubic volume of 1,169 feet and a load capacity of just over 61,000 pounds. But that’s not how most of us think of our homes and belongings. To calculate what size shipping container you will need, you can start by measuring each piece of furniture that you want to bring and boxing up items you won’t need before your move. This is a project to start early on in your moving preparations, and you might find it useful to record them all on a spreadsheet or in a notebook. You might find yourself removing items and trying different options to stick to your budget.

(One very helpful way to decide what furniture to bring is to look online at what furniture stores in your new home charge for similar pieces. You can then compare the cost of shipping versus the cost of replacing items. Consider too the amount of wear and tear on your current items and how much life is left in them.)

Many people assume they will need a larger shipping container than they really do. Your freight container will be tightly and professionally packed. Most families moving out of a three-bedroom house can fit the contents of their current home into a 20-foot freight container.

If you have an overseas move on the horizon, why not talk to us today. At Spratt Personal Shipping, we have moved countless Irish families to new locations around the world and we’re happy to discuss your needs and provide a competitive shipping quote.