All About Ocean Containers

This article is intended for those people who are not familiar with ocean transport and wish to know a little about the containers that will carry their belongings when they move overseas.


Ocean containers come in three sizes: 20 ft, 40 ft and 40 ft High Cube. The first two are a little over 7 feet high, while the High Cube container is a foot taller. The inside volume of each is about 1150, 2300, and 2600 cubic feet respectively. Steamship lines have their own containers and the volumes will vary slightly depending on which steamship line you are working with.


However, the total volume is not the same as usable space. Since the containers will not be filled with water or square boxes made to fit, when filling a container there will always be unused space, especially towards the top of the container. Loses of 10-15 % in useable volume can be expected when packing a container with boxes of different sizes and odd shaped household goods and personal effects.


At platinum, we try to be conservative in our calculations to avoid costly mistakes. Just imagine ordering a container from port and loading the container only to find out that there is 100 or 200 cubic fee of cargo that can’t be loaded! There would be two solutions to this problem: ordering a bigger container, unload everything from the first container and put it in the second; or sending the remainder separately in a pallet. Either solution will be expensive, not to mention a big hassle. That is the kind of headache no one needs on the day of their move!


We consider that a 20’ container as having no more than 1000 cu ft of capacity, a 40’ between 2000 and 2100 cu ft., and a 40’ High Cube has a working volume of 2300cu ft. To put these volumes in perspective, a 20 foot container will usually suffice to carry all the furnishings of a 2-3 bedroom apartment while the household goods of medium size houses of 3 or 4 bedroom demands a forty foot container. For very large houses, more than one container might be necessary. Vehicles will fill most of a 20 foot container on their own, or take about half the working space of a 40 foot container.


In all cases however, it is advisable to have an experienced mover to conduct a survey of your home to calculate the total volume of your belongings and determine what size container suits your needs best before you move overseas.


If you need more information, please feel free to contact us, and we will gladly come to your residence to perform a survey.

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