Interesting Facts About Shipping Container Weight

Posted on:
May 29, 2022


refrigerated white shipping containers

When considering shipping cargo, shipping containers are an essential element to be considered. The official weight of the unit will be provided prior to shipping. Different regions have different laws in regards to container weight and size.

The weight will depend on container type and size. For instance, the average 20-foot shipping container when empty will weigh between 3,970 and 4,850 pounds, compared with a 40-foot container weighing between 8,340 and 9,260 pounds when empty. High cube containers will be heavier than their shorter counterparts. The more height a container has, the heavier the weight.

High cube containers usually have the same length and breadth as a 40ft standard container but have a height difference of one foot, which adds to the storage capacity but also to the weight.

Why is Weighing a Shipping Container Important?

Weighing a container is critical in optimizing the payload per the dimensions. With an exact weight in mind, you will be better able to comply with regulatory guidelines as well as government transport regulations. Weight limits play an important role in export and inland movement of all types of cargo units.

You will want to avoid unbalanced or overloaded shipping containers, which are risky additions for container ships, not to mention road safety and transport of the goods themselves. When shipping overseas, shippers must submit VGM (Verified Gross Mass) of their container prior to getting loaded onto the ship for export, as per the IMO (International Maritime Organization).

These rules are in place to cut back on accidents as a result of overweight shipping containers. Safety is of the utmost concern here.

Containers must be accurately weighed and loads must be optimized to avoid incurring penalties and fines in the future. When transporting goods on the roadways, it’s wise to check your state’s truck size and weight limit laws that are in place by the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) under the US Department of Transportation (DoT). These will vary from state to state, while the gross vehicle weight will vary with regular vs. special operations.

Overall, containers should be versatile, lightweight and easy to move. The most popular sizes when it comes to shipping containers are the 20 ft and 40 ft lengths. Here at Drybox, we offer all these and more.

Tare Weight

This is basically empty shipping container weight when the container has no cargo or products in it. It’s determined by subtracting payload weight (maximum fill weight) from gross weight (total the container can hold).

Weight of a 20ft Container

A 20ft container has a maximum payload capacity of 47,900 pounds, tare weight of 4,914 pounds, a and a gross weight of 52,813 pounds.

ISO standards for 20 foot shipping container weights offer these dimensions and capacities:

20ft Open Top Shipping Container:

  • External measurement: 20’/8’/8’6″
  • Internal measurement: 19’3″/7’8″/7’9″
  • Floor area: 150 sq ft
  • Volume: 1160 cu ft
  • Maximum weight: 4916 pounds

20ft Standard Shipping Container:

  • External measurement: 20’/8’/8’6″
  • Internal measurement: 19’3″/7’8″/7’9″
  • Floor area: 150 sq ft
  • Volume: (1160 cu ft
  • Maximum weight: 4916 pounds

Weight of a 40ft Container

A 40ft container has a max weight of 67,196 pounds, a tare weight of 8,554 pounds and a max payload weight of 58,642 pounds.

40ft Standard Shipping Container:

  • External measurement: 40’/8’/8’6″
  • Internal measurement: 39’5″/7’8″/7’9″
  • Floor area: 305 sq ft
  • Volume: 2360 cu ft
  • Maximum weight: 8708 pounds

40ft High Cube Shipping Container:

  • External measurement: 40’/8’/9’6″
  • Internal measurement: 39’5″/7’8″/8’9″
  • Floor area: 305 sq ft
  • Volume: 2660 cu ft
  • Maximum weight: 8708 pounds

As you can see, having an accurate weight when shipping containers and goods is critical. It can make the difference between smooth sailing, and incurring fines and snafus – not to mention safety concerns. Any shipping container company you buy from should be more than willing to share the weight information of its units with you.

Don’t buy any container without knowing the empty weight. This will help you calculate how much your total shipping will be before transporting it.

Contact DRYBOX

If you would like to know the empty weight of our shipping containers, in any size, feel free to reach out to us toll free at 866-549-9823. We have a variety of shipping container sizes available for rent or purchase, such as 20 foot, 40 foot, specialty, refrigerated, 10 foot, 15 foot, 24 foot, 45 foot and 53 foot.



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