Container Types & Specifications

On this page you will find information on the different types of standard shipping containers as well as basic internal and external dimension data.

The data provided here are derived from standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The information presented here should be used for guidance purposes only. Please be aware that the actual specifications of any given container may vary from these and from the containers provided by individual carriers.

ISO Standard Dimension Data

20' Standard Container

LengthWidthHeight
(normal)
Height
(high cube)
External6,058 mm2,438 mm2,591 mm2,896 mm
Internal5,867 mm2,330 mm2,350 mm2,655 mm
Door Opening2,286 mm2,261 mm2,566 mm

40' Standard Container

LengthWidthHeight
(normal)
Height
(high cube)
External12,192 mm2,438 mm2,591 mm2,896 mm
Internal11,998 mm2,330 mm2,350 mm2,655 mm
Door Opening2,286 mm2,261 mm2,566 mm

45' Standard Container

LengthWidthHeight
External13,716 mm2,438 mm2,896 mm
Internal13,532 mm

2,330 mm

2,655 mm
Door Opening2,286 mm2,566 mm

Container Types

 

General Purpose Container

General purpose containers are also known as standard containers. These containers are closed on all sides. The most commonly used sizes are 20' and 40' although the numbers of 45' containers are increasing.  The exact dimensions and weight of general purpose containers will vary from one carrier to the next.

High Cube
General Purpose Container

High-cube general purpose containers are similar to standard containers except for their greater height. While a general purpose container has a maximum height of 2591 mm (8'6"), a high-cube general purpose container has a height measurement of 2896 mm, or 9'6". Most high-cube general purpose containers are 40' long.

 

Hard Top Container

A hard top container has a removable steel roof which can make it easier pack and unpack the container using a crane. The roof can also be lashed to the wall of the container to allow for the shipment of over-height cargo. The hard top container comes in 20' and 40' length as well as in the taller high cube configuration.

Open Top Container

An open top container has no roof and allows for the shipment of over-height cargo and allows for simple loading by crane. The roof opening can be secured by a tarpaulin. Open top containers are normally 20' and 40' in length.

Flatrack Container

Flatracks are essentially containers without roofs or side walls along their lengths, but with floors that have been designed for high loading capacity. The end walls of flatracks are designed to still support stacking and can support cargo lashings. Some flatracks feature fixed end walls or collapsible walls. Flatracks are available in 20' and 40' lengths and are also produced in high cube configurations.

Platform Container

A platform is similar to a flatrack but has no side or end walls. Platforms are designed with extremely heavy cargo in mind and thus have a much higher loading capacity through a reinforced floor. This means that large weights can be concentrated on small areas of the platform surface. Platforms are produced in 20' and 40' lengths.

Ventilated Container

A ventilated container is a container that is designed with ventilation openings. These openings allow for cargo to "breath" but are designed to prevent rain ingress.

Refrigerated Container

A refrigerated container, also known as a 'reefer' is a special type of container that contains a built in refrigeration unit for controlling its internal temperature. The refrigeration unit can be powered by an internal or external generator known as a genset. Alternatively, the unit can be powered from a container ship's own power supply.

Tank Container

A tank container is a liquid holding tank with a steel frame in the same dimensions as standard intermodal containers. This allows for liquids to be shipped like other cargo in or on other intermodal container and platform types.