Container sizes, types and dimensions

The ubiquitous shipping container has affected all our lives, whether we are involved in the business of shipping or not, but in an extremely positive way.. But do you know there are different container sizes and types of different dimensions that are in circulation today, each of which is used for a different purpose..

In below article, I cover the various container size, type, and the uses of these containers.. I also have covered the uses of special container types in a separate article in a bit more detail..

The major container types are :

  • Dry or Dry Van (DV) or General Purpose (GP) – 20′, 40′ – general containers that doesn’t have any special features and used to load normal general cargo
  • High Cube (HC or HQ) – 40′ and in a few countries 20′ as well – containers that are taller than a GP by 1 feet and used in cases where customers require a slightly bigger volume capacity

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  • Tank (TK) – 20′ – Specialised containers that are designed to carry liquid cargoes


You can download the dimensions of the container here.. Please note that these are general guidelines and each shipping line has a slight variation of the dims..

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11 comments on “Container sizes, types and dimensions”

  1. By Audril Khor Reply

    Ocean bill of lading total gross weight should include tare weight as well ?
    Net 19800 , Isotank tare weight 3600
    Total gross weight should on bl should be 19800 kgs or 23400 kgs ?
    Or is it subjective to individual carrier to declare on BL total gross weight ?

  2. By Stephen Mwangi Reply

    It has always been great reading your articles. I am a student of shipping in Kenya and your articles have been helping me to understand this field well.

  3. By Prashant Roy Reply

    Hi Hariesh,

    Just love the website & your blogs. Immensely informative and helpful.

    It would have helped if you had given the Internal, External and Door dimensions of each of these containers along with these diagrams. Also the tare and laden weight would be very informative.

    What is the difference between a General purpose container and a Hard Top Container ?

    Do Reefer containers also come in High Cube versions ?

    Is a 20″ High Cube GP Container also available?

    Is there a restriction on the laden weight on the Flat bed Containers ?

    Thanks & God bless.

    • By altrin prathap

      your article is very good.iam the the student of iil now pursuing my mba shiiping and helps me to understood all the types of cantainers and its size and dimension.