How Much Does a 20ft Shipping Container Weigh?

Ever wondered “How much does a 20ft shipping container weigh?”

Most people wanting to transport goods, materials or equipment across seas and oceans have, but if you haven’t, it’s still good to know as this knowledge will surely serve you well when you need to use shipping containers.

So, how much does a 20ft shipping container weigh?

Well, here’s the short answer:

A 20ft ISO Dry Van Container typically has a tare weight of just under 5,000lbs, the specific weight can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, however our 20ft Dry Van weighs in at 4,585lbs or 2,080kgs.

There are also other weights to consider when discussing shipping containers, the payload, which is the maximum weight the contents of the container can be, and the maximum gross weight, which equals the payload plus the tare weight.

With the above said, the total weight of a ‘dry’ shipping container is an important element to consider before you start shipping goods – in fact, most countries require that you provide an official weight for your container before the shipping process can begin.


Why do I even have to know how much a 20ft shipping container weighs?

Well, you do have a point, but there is a little bit of fuss around “how much does a 20ft shipping container weigh” and it’s understandable actually: knowing the weight is super-important for safety purposes!

Overloaded or unbalanced shipping containers are a disaster waiting to happen – they unnecessarily put both container ships and shippers at risk. This is why in 2016, a rule was established by the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) requiring shippers to provide the VGM (Verified Gross Mass) of a shipping container before it can be loaded for export. This rule was actually established as a direct response to the accidents which kept occurring because of overweight containers.

All shipping organisations are required to comply with the SOLAS VGM requirements – Safety Of Life At Sea – this means they must accurately weigh their shipping containers and optimise loads in order to avoid fines and penalties.

What’s the best way to weigh a loaded container?

As we’ve discussed, an empty 20ft shipping container will typically weigh under 5,000lbs or mostly hover between 3,970lbs and 4,850lbs or between 1.8 and 2.2 metric tonnes. Also, you should bear in mind that High Cube dry containers are also used, which have a height of 9′ 6″ compared to the standard 8′ 6″ – which inevitably weight more!

If you look closely, you should be able to spot the exact tare weight on each shipping container – it’s usually found on the container doors. Also known as unladen weight, tare weight refers to the weight of a dry or empty container.

Shipping containers are typically weighed dry as weighing a loaded container can be quite challenging. There are multiple ways of determining “How much does a 20ft shipping container weigh”:

  • Weighing the container on a truck’s chassis
  • Lifting it into the air using specialised equipment used for weighing very heavy haulages
  • Weighing it on the ground
  • Loading the container on a truck and driving it over truck scales

Just to quickly reiterate what we’ve discussed in terms of “How much does a 20ft shipping container weigh”:

The tare weight of a dry container is around 5,000lbs, its maximum gross weight is just over 55,000lbs and its maximum payload weight is around 50,000lbs.

Want to know more about how a shipping container’s poundage could affect your shipping methods or operations? Cargostore is always here to assist.

Related Articles

Offshore Containers For Sale

Offshore Containers For Sale

DNV certified containers are required for offshore projects, but what does DNV mean? And how do you choose the right container type? Read on to find out…

Share This