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Cost To Ship A 20 Foot Container – Learn About Prices & Rates

Published on 2022-08-04

20 foot shipping container movers

The movers at Three Movers have been efficiently shipping containers around the world for more than two decades. We are known for affordable container shipping costs. From 20-foot containers to 40-foot containers to shipping containers of all sizes, we’ve done it all. Whether you’re a small business, a major corporation, or just a private citizen looking to use a container to transport your household goods, you’re likely wondering how much this service costs.

In fact, the delivery cost for 20-foot shipping containers can be rather substantial. Not to mention, the complicated shipping process can present a number of logistical challenges that may quickly become a nightmare if you’re unfamiliar. So, how much does it cost to ship a 20ft container in 2022 / 2023?

The cost to ship 20 foot shipping containers is dependent on a number of factors, including the size and the distance. Though, the average cost to ship a 20-foot container is around $3,000, or between $1 and $4 a mile. With that said, let’s take a deeper look at what you can expect regarding the 20 feet container shipping costs.

Understanding Container Sizes

While there are a number of intermodal shipping container sizes in use across the globe, only two are considered the standard: 20 ft. and 40 ft. For international container relocations, you’ll most likely need one or the other. Let’s explore the key stats of each:

20 ft. Shipping Container

Ideal for: 1 to 2 bedroom home or a car with a couple of boxes. 

Standard Measurements: 

Size (LxWxH): 19’ 10.5” x 8’ 0” x 8’6”

Total internal volume: 1,169 cubic feet

Net shipping load: 61,289 lb.

40 ft. Shipping Container 

Ideal for: 3 to 4 bedroom home or a car plus a standard two bedroom home.  

Standard Measurements: 

Size (LxWxH): 40’ 0” x 8’ 0” x 8’6”

Total internal volume: 2,385 cubic feet

Net shipping load: 57,759 lb.

Although a 40 foot container can generally hold about twice as much as a 20 foot container in terms of volume, it actually holds less total cargo weight. This has to do with the substantial weight of the container itself. So, if you need to relocate an entire household and your car, you may need to look into securing more than one container for international shipping.

How Much Does A 20 Foot Container Cost To Ship?

The average cost to ship a 20-foot container is roughly $3,000, but your final price will vary considerably based on where you’re headed and how much stuff you need to move. Even things like the time of year and the moving company you choose can make a huge difference in the overall cost. 

When it comes to distance, the cost to ship a container is typically between $1 and $4 per mile. Shorter moves are typically more affordable overall but have a higher rate per mile. Though, every container shipping company has unique rates so the best way to know exactly how much it’ll cost to ship a 20-foot container is to request an estimate

In order to fully understand average costs, it’s crucial that you know what factors contribute to the final cost of your move. 

Factors Affecting The Price To Ship A 20 Foot Container 

cost of shipping 20 foot containers

There are numerous factors that affect the total cost of shipping a 20-foot container. Let’s examine some of the more common factors affecting container shipping rates in great detail to understand how moving companies calculate these types of quotes.


Generally speaking, distance contributes the most to the cost of shipping a 20 ft. container. As you might expect, the further that you need to transport the container, the more you’ll have to pay. Most container moving companies increase rates to compensate for vehicle maintenance, fuel charges, environmental taxes, and other factors. 

Regardless, a local move will always be cheaper than a long-distance move – and especially an international/ overseas relocation.  

Less Container Load (LCL) vs. Full Container Load (FCL)

Will you be able to fill up the entire 20-foot container with your belongings? Or, do you only plan to ship it partially full? Less Container Load, or LCL, refers to shipments that require less than an entire container. Though, most companies will levy a minimum shipment volume, which may be as low as 35.3 cubic feet. For small shipments, this is the most affordable option as you’ll be distributing costs between those you are sharing the container with. 

Depending on your situation, it may make the most sense and end up being cheaper to just pay for a full container. Full Container Load, or FCL, describes shipments where you pay to fill the entire container. This means that only your belongings will ship together in the same container. 

Shipping Method’s Effects On Shipping Prices

There are essentially three main methods to ship a 20-foot container, with some being more expensive than others. 

  • Truck: Nearly all types of moves involve a truck. This is the most expensive method, as shippers must consider maintenance and fuel costs for the journey. 
  • Trains: Shipping via rail offers lower container shipping rates and is very common for moves within a continent.
  • Ocean Freight: Ocean freight or shipping via a container ship is the cheapest way to transport a 20-foot container, but also the slowest. Though, keep in mind that if you’re not transporting the container internationally, you would not use this method. 

Depending on the conditions surrounding your move, you may need to use a combination of these shipping methods. Shipping containers is all about logistics and while rail is generally cheaper than trucking, it may not always be the case for you. There are other factors at play. 

Time Of Year Also Affects Shipping Rates

The time of year also has a big impact on 20 ft container shipping rates. If you are shipping the container at a time of year when moving services are in high demand, the shipping costs will be higher. Summer and spring tend to be peak seasons for this industry, meaning you’ll likely pay more during these times than in the winter. There is also generally a much higher demand on weekends, holidays, and at the beginning and end of the month. To save money, try to be flexible and avoid busy seasons. 

Additional Costs For Shipping A 20 Foot Container

When shipping a 20-foot container, there are some additional expenses that you’ll want to consider, such as insurance, packing, and siting costs.

  • Insurance: Whether you’re planning to ship your entire household across the ocean or just to a neighboring town, it is crucial that all of your belongings are properly insured. Fortunately, most moving companies offer insurance and factor it into your estimate. Though, you may want to choose a more comprehensive option if the insurance offered does not cover everything. Insurance can get a little complicated so don’t hesitate to speak with your shipping company. 
  • Packing: When moving internationally, some companies will require that they pack the container for you. While this may just sound like a way for them to charge you extra, it actually helps prevent fraudulent insurance claims and may even be required for taxes and duty. 
  • Cost of Siting: Siting refers to the process of unloading the delivery truck and positioning the container on the foundation. Overall, the more equipment needed to move your container to the intended destination, the more it’ll cost you. Siting tends to cost quite a bit less if the truck can easily pick it up at one place and drop it off at another. When you need things like cranes and forklifts, the price to get the container onsite goes up. 

How To Transport A 20 ft Moving Container?

When moving your household goods internationally, you will need to put your stuff in a container. In most cases, a 20 ft container is enough for household goods. You can either bring a 20 ft container straight into your home or move your belongings to the place where the 20 ft container is stationed using a moving truck. If you are using the whole container yourself, it’s best to bring the container straight to your home. You will not have to load and unload multiple times when you do so.

Once all of your stuff is loaded in the container, it will be transported to the nearest port using a freight trailer. Make sure that you have not kept anything that is deemed illegal on the ship. Before loading the container onto the ship, you need three copies of the paperwork stating the list of items. One in the language of the country of origin, and the second in the language of the destination country. The freight forwarder will create a bill of lading using the first copy which will determine the amount of customs duty you will have to pay. The second copy will be handed to the agent in the overseas custom office. The third copy can be in any language and you will keep this copy. You’ll also need a document that proves that you are legally entering the destination country. If you are shipping goods for commercial purposes, you need more documents. Click here to find out what types of documents you’ll need.

Then the container will be loaded into the ship using a crane. You’ll have to then wait for it arrives at the destination.

How Much Does A 20 ft shipping container cost?

You can get a uses 20 ft container for as low as $1,500. You can get a new 20 ft container for anywhere between $4,000 & $6,000. If you are multinational company transporting large amount of goods on frequent bases, it may make more sense to buy your own container rather than keep paying shipping container movers.

Cheap Shipping Container Movers

Not only can the movers at Three Movers relocate 20-foot shipping containers around your own property, but we can also provide shipping container pick-up and delivery services across the globe. Whether you want to have your own shipping container transported somewhere else, or you need a container for an upcoming move, we’ve got you covered! 

Need a 20-foot shipping container or a 20-foot shipping container mover? Look no further than Three Movers! Give us a call today or fill out our convenient online request form to receive your free, no-obligation moving quote and we’ll show you how simple and cost-effective it can be to transport these enormous containers anywhere in the world! You will get your container shipping costs calculated in no time. You can find more competitive container shipping prices anywhere else.

Shipping 20 Foot Containers: List Of Routes

While you can contact us to ship a 20 foot container to/from almost any country in the world, we mostly ship to/from the USA. Here are some popular routes for our 20 foot shipping container movers:


India To USA
China To USA
Germany To USA
France To USA
Japan to USA
South Korea To USA
Spain To USA
Finland To USA
Brazil To USA
Argentina To USA
South Africa To USA
Egypt To USA
Qatar To USA
Saudi Arabia To USA
Taiwan To USA
Australia To USA
New Zealand To USA
Italy To USA
Portugal To USA
Jamaica To USA
Vietnam To USA
Ireland To USA
Switzerland To USA
Netherlands To USA

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does A Empty 20-Foot Shipping Container Weigh?

 A standard 20 foot shipping container weighs around 4,400 lbs and a high 20-foot shipping container weighs around 4,600 lbs.

How Much Does A 20 Foot Shipping Container Cost?

A new 20 foot shipping container costs around $6,000 on average and a used 20 foot shipping container costs around $3,500 on average.

 Can I ship my own 20 foot shipping container?

Yes, you surely can ship your own container. But, it is not an easy task.  So, if you need to ship containers very rarely it’s best to hire shipping container movers and use a container provided by shipping lines.

How much does it cost to bring a 20 foot container from China to USA?

On average it cost around $8,500 to ship a 20 foot container from China to the west coast of the USA and around $10,500 to ship from China to the East Coast of America.

How much does it cost to bring a 20 foot container from India to USA?

The cost to ship a 20 foot container from India to the USA is around $10,000. The total distance that you have to ship has a big impact on the shipping cost. So, the cost can change drastically based on the starting city and the end city.

What is the cheapest way to ship from USA to China?

Using services from parcel shipping companies like DHL, EMS, FedEx, e.t.c is the cheapest way to ship from the USA to China. But, if you have to ship a large amount of stuff, you need a 20 foot or 40 foot shipping container.

Written by Chris Townsend

Chris Townsend

Chris Townsend is a moving professional and relocation expert that has more than 10 years of experience in the moving industry. With a background that includes working in virtually every aspect of the company, he has distinguished himself as an integral part of our operations with expertise in all things related to moving.

If you have any questions about moving, our services, or anything else you think he may be able to help with, you can contact Chris by emailing him at

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I want to take a moment to say thank you to the extremely hard working crew that handled my move. I admit I was skeptical of hiring a company to move my household stuff but I was so pleased with the services. These guys packed everything up and had it loaded and delivered in no time at all. Everything was taken care of from start to finish and my wife and I were able to take some much needed time to check out the new town without having to worry about getting things unpacked. Three Movers took care of everything and we really appreciate it!

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