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admin | Category: Shipping Container Dimensions | 02.05.2014
Shipping containers tend to be 20 or 40 feet in length, but we are going to focus on 20-footers as the more commonly-used container type for individuals and families moving abroad. This gives you an internal space of 19 feet and 4 inches in length, by 7 feet 8 inches in width and 7 feet and 10 inches in height. A 20-foot container’s overall capacity is 1,170 cubic feet and its maximum gross weight is 6,700 pounds. When the time comes to loading your container, it will be delivered to your home or storage unit on a chassis that sits quite high up off the ground – about four feet. Fill out form at the top of this page to get up to 70% off your shipping quote by comparing suppliers! Given the above dimensions and restrictions, a family of two adults and two children could reasonably expect to fit the contents of a two bedroom house into a 20 foot container, including a car. The full load capacity of a 20-footer is 1170 cubic feet, but normally you’d be able to fill it to a up to 90% capacity, or 1053 cubic feet. With a few extra pairs of hands to help, it shouldn’t take more than five hours to load a 20 foot container full. When your container does arrive, check the floor is clean and dry, and try to air it out for as long as you can before loading it up. Collating your packing materials will take some forward planning of its own, so purchase sturdy boxes from your shipping agent or order them online well in advance. Arrange your boxes and furniture items in the order they should be loaded into the container, largest first wherever possible. Consider packing the boxes you’ll want to get to first at the end of the loading process, so they’re readily accessible on arrival at your new home.
Strap items into place as they are loaded into the container, perhaps strapping groups of smaller items together so as to not slide around and damage one another in transit. Biggest items should be loaded first, with furniture and other large household items positioned along the back and sides. Boxes should come next after all furniture and larger items are loaded and secured with weight distributed evenly throughout the container.


Use clothing, towels and bed linen to wrap and protect fragile items like glassware, and suction-pack your clothing to optimise space.
If you’re shipping a vehicle in your container you need to build a wall or barrier of some sort to keep it separate from your other things – either out of plywood or timber. You must also declare your vehicle non-hazardous by draining all fuel from the car or motorbike, then disconnecting the battery and alarm system. Wheels need to be blocked from the front, back and from the sides with wooden blocks or wheel chocks, and the wheels then need to be lashed securely within the container.
Do think about where to position the container when it arrives as it will need a sturdy, flat surface to rest on.
Don’t overload your container as it’s unsafe to transport it if loading is not level – your truck driver will actually refuse to take it away until any overage has been removed. This is by far the most cost-effective and carbon-friendly way to move your stuff overseas. The container door is 7 foot 8 inches tall and 7 foot 5 inches wide – worth considering before you start planning to pack that enormous Welsh dresser or grand piano. These limits vary slightly according to where in the world you’re shipping from, so always check with your agent.
You may need to arrange ramps and all packing materials yourself, so ask your shipping agent about this and use a local plant hire company for a ramp if necessary. These estimates, however, are only valid if you fit in the items perfectly - which rarely happens - so make sure to leave some extra room. Bear in mind that your trucker will be on a schedule and will expect everything to be ready to load once the container arrives, so take the time to have everything packed and moved ready for its arrival.
Straps and pads should be available wherever you buy your removals boxes from, and it’s also a good idea to start stockpiling newspaper to wrap your valuables, artwork and mirrors in. Wrap furniture or other large, unboxed items in blankets, pads or other household items like old towels or sheets, securing with strong tape. Weight should be distributed as evenly as possible throughout the container, which will also help prevent items shifting around during shipping.


Table legs and the bottoms of other unstable, top heavy structures should be secured to the rings fixed along the container walls.
Plug all available gaps of space above and below the furniture – like between chair legs, for example - to enable a snug move with minimal movement within the container.
This process is called embarkation and is an essential measure when shipping a vehicle in a container.
Also, don’t forget to remove all vehicle documents from the glove box as you will need them at a later stage. Sometimes your shipping agent will want this to be done professionally and will provide someone to secure the vehicle in your container for you. Use the chart above to identity what you can expect to load into your container and what you’ll need to leave behind, donate or sell.
Make sure its position won’t obstruct garage doors you’ll need to get into, or neighbours’ parking. Read up on restricted and prohibited items, and estimated shipping costs and times to your specific country. But you probably have all sorts of questions about container shipping including which shipping agent to use, loading all your stuff in and how much it’s likely to cost. Be aware also that most container truckers don’t get involved in loading, so think about calling in a few strong friends to help you load your container, or consider hiring in casual labourers to help with the heavy lifting. Shrink wrap is an alternative way to protect furniture, especially items likely to be affected by heat or changes in humidity.
Your local garage may be able to load your vehicle into the container using a flatbed for a small hire out charge. This article will describe step by step what you need to do and what things to consider when shipping your stuff overseas in a shipping container.



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