How Many Types Of Containers Are There?

With 90% of the world’s goods being transported by sea, it’s easy to think that everything gets loaded into a standard sized shipping container and sent on it’s way. The truth is, there are many different kinds of containers – all with their respective shipping container sizes and uses, ranging from a small 8ft container, right up to a mighty 40ft container. 

Read on to find on to discover how many types of containers there are and what they are used for.


How big are shipping containers usually?

Did you know that the original container design was a relatively simple storage unit measuring just 8ft wide, 8ft high and 33ft long?

Since then, shipping containers have evolved a lot, with different types catering to different uses.

As far as the “how big are shipping containers” question goes, the two most common sizes (and types) include a 20ft ISO container and a 40ft ISO container.

Different kinds of shipping containers

Here’s a list of some of the different types of containers available.

Standard containers: Standard or general-purpose containers are the most common type of containers circulating around the globe. They are for transporting dry goods only and are commonly available as 20ft containers and 40ft containers.

Open top containers: These containers have a removable top, making them ideal for goods that are too tall to fit into standard containers. Open top containers come in handy when heavy items must be lifted with a crane to be loaded into the container.

Open side container: Certain kinds of cargo is too wide and bulky to go through the main container opening or hatch, and this is where it’s best to use an open side container. In addition to a basic door on one end, these containers also have a side-opening door to allow for easy loading and unloading.

High cube containers: As the name suggests, these are taller than general-purpose/standard containers at a height of 9′ 6″, with the extra volume meant to accommodate more cargo.

Refrigerated ISO containers: Often manufacturers will use refrigerated ISO containers to ship perishable goods that need to be kept as a cooler temperature (such as flowers, pharmaceuticals or perishable produce). Refrigerated containers are designed to maintain a steady temperature for the duration of the trip and can be used attached to a power source or remote from a power source using a diesel Clip-On Generator.

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Why are shipping containers different colours?

Great question!

One of the key reasons shipping containers come in different colours is for identification purposes. So, for example, brand new/never used before containers are painted a specific colour while used and storage containers or special containers are painted a different colour to let shippers know what they are used for and how to handle them.

The colour coding also helps shipping facility operators identify containers according to their type and shipping line, rather than individually checking each container’s code to identify them.

Where to buy an ISO container?

 Cargostore Worldwide houses the highest quality selection of 20ft ISO containers and 40ft ISO containers at some of the most competitive rates in the market. Contact us now for a free quote.

Related Articles

What is a Reefer Container… and what are they used for?

What is a Reefer Container… and what are they used for?

A reefer container is a refrigerated shipping container used to store goods that require temperature control. They can be used to ship or truck goods over long distances as they can be plugged into the power station on ships or have clip on generators attached.

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