Sea containers travel in different ways. They can be used to transport goods abroad by sea or air. They can also be used for land transportation and transported in trucks or rail cars. Regardless of how they get to their destination, all shipping containers do the same job: transport goods. Sometimes the size depends on the capacity of the box, and sometimes solely on the type of product in it. When buying or renting a shipping container, remember to find the one that best suits your shipping needs, your shipping method, and the requirements of your goods inside the container.

Steel containers are the most common for retail products.

These numerical measurements indicate the outside length. When used for overseas shipping, they range in size from 8 to 45 feet, with 20 to 40 feet being the most common. Internal dimensions may vary depending on wall and ceiling thickness, so check before purchasing a container.

Shipping Methods

Ground shipping containers tend to be smaller and not necessarily made of metal. Plastic drum containers can be used for land and international shipping as they can carry liquids. These drums can be packaged in a larger box when delivered by ship or air. The large metal shipping containers common when shipped overseas are helpful for goods shipped by rail. The size 40 container is often used as two containers can be stacked on each platform. The advantage of rail transport is that a full wagon can be a large container for cargo, such as open wagons filled with coal or stones.

Shipping containers are often much smaller and unconventional for freight trains and ocean shipping. Road transport requires smaller mobile containers. There are many standards and regulations that all shipping locations must comply with, but trucks may have more because they work on the road alongside regular people. Because of this, most trucks are large, closed storage boxes that hide the load from view. Trucks may also have a flatbed chassis to carry more traditional container sizes, such as SCF 20ft shipping containers, but will most likely carry mini containers.


The main containers are transported by air: pallets, ideal for conveyor belts; contour containers, which provide good protection for goods; lower deck containers. Air delivery is perhaps the most interesting because it is unlike other types of delivery. Air carriers create their own rules and have their container sizes labeled differently. The most common is the series. The sizes in this series are designated and have a number from 1 to 29.


Regardless of how you ship your products, check the shipping container dimensions for that shipping method. You will find that some containers can be used in a wide variety of places, but you need to know where the standard does not apply.