Disclaimer: Exact dimensions for containers can change based on the manufacturer, and maximum weight can differ based on load regulations. Consult a professional shipping agent for the relevant information.

Common Container Sizes

Shipping containers come in a variety of sizes, 20ft and 40ft being the most common lengths. 20ft and 40ft refer to the external length of the container. External dimensions are most relevant to shipping agents, whereas the internal dimensions are important to know as they will tell you how much will fit into the container.

Types of Containers

Other than differing in length, there are other aspects that set containers apart. The nature, size and weight of your cargo all contribute to determining which container type suits you best.

  • General: These containers are fully enclosed and used to load most types of general cargo. They are the most common choice for transporting goods globally.
  • HQ: High cube (HQ) containers are similar in structure to general containers but are taller in height by around 30cm. This container type is suitable where bigger volume capacity is required, and the cargo is light enough to not exceed maximum weight requirements.
  • Open top: These containers have a soft top that can be removed, ideal for cargo that cannot be easily loaded through the door or needs to be removed from above.

There are also other types of containers that are less common or used for specific situations, including flat rack, open side, reefer, half height, swap body containers, and more.

Types of Shipments

  • FCL (Full Container Load): All contents are consigned from one consignor (sender) to one consignee (receiver). There is one consignment within the container.
  • FCX (Full Container with Multiple Bills of Lading): There are multiple suppliers, and all contents are for one consignee. There are two or more consignments in the container.
  • LCL (Less than Container Load): A consignment that does not occupy the full space available in the container on its own, that is consolidated with one or more consignments in the container. The consignments are for at least two different consignees.

Consolidating Shipments and Decreasing Shipping Costs

Global Sourcing Services (GSS) handles all logistics and importing matters for our clients. We can arrange full containers or, where required, utilise our competent shipping partners to consolidate shipments to achieve substantial cost savings where possible. Freight often makes up a significant portion of the total cost of manufacturing and importing products from overseas, so decreasing shipping costs on LCLs results in significant improvements to our clients’ bottom line.

GSS manage this process so our clients are not burdened with organising freight, transport, customs documentation, delivery or other related tasks. GSS frequently have containers moving around the world, particularly from China to Australia, so our clients receive their shipments in a reasonable timeframe.