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Container Shipping Rates in the US for 2023

Your Complete Guide

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We know that reading about container shipping rates is probably as exciting as watching grass grow. But hang in there, because learning all the ins and outs of it can help you save a lot of time and money on your move. So, to help you become a container shipping costs expert, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about it below!

Shipping costs from to
20ft Container
40ft Container

Container Shipping Rates Across the World

Heads up! Pinpointing exactly how much does it cost to ship a container overseas can be quite tricky. This is because your costs of shipping will vary depending on several number of factors, amongst which the type of transport, distance, and volume of your shipment is the most important ones. On average, the cost of shipping a full-container load costs between $2,000 and $3,000.

To give an idea of what to expect since we know this can be a bit vague, we compiled a few tables below listing the container shipping costs to various places in the world. These estimates are based on using a full-container load to transport household goods valued at $25,000 through the sea, departing from New York (port-to-port).

Note: No extra costs (e.g.: insurance, taxes, and duty charges) have been included in these estimates.

Container Shipping Costs to North America

Destination Port20ft Container40ft Container
Los Angeles, United States$2,798 – $3,093$3,498 – $3,866
Vancouver, Canada$3,089 – $3,414$3,861 – $4,267
Veracruz, México$1,216 – $1,344$1,519 – $1,679

Container Shipping Rates to South America

Destination Port20ft Container40ft Container
La Guaria, Venezuela$6,510 – $7,195$7,725 – $8,460
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil$1,985 – $2,195$3,690 – $4,080
Cartagena, Colombia$4,740 – $5,240$5,575 – $6,165

Cost of Shipping a Container to Europe

Destination Port20ft Container40ft Container
Rotterdam, The Netherlands$1,440 – $1,590$1,690 – $1,870
Málaga, Spain$1,685 – $1,865$1,985 – $2,195
London, United Kingdom$3,120 – $7,805$6,245 – $15,610
Hamburg, Germany$7,025 – $12,490$14,050 – $21,855

Container Shipping Costs to Africa

Destination Port20ft Container40ft Container
Cape Town, South Africa$6,070 – $6,710$7,140 – $7,895
Onne, Nigeria$4,980 – $5,505$5,860 – $6,475
Mombasa, Kenya$7,225 – $7,985$8,500 – $9,395

Container Shipping Rates to Oceania

Destination Port20ft Container40ft Container
Sydney, Australia$4,685 – $15,610$7,805 – $23,415
Auckland, New Zealand$4,685 – $28,095$7,805 – $31,220

Cost of Shipping a Container to Asia

Destination Port20ft Container40ft Container
Tokyo, Japan$3,025 – $3,340$3,555 – $3,930
Shanghai, China$3,060 – $3,375$3,590 – $3,970
Jakarta, Indonesia$3,820 – $4,220$4,490 – $4,965
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Common Container Sizes

Alright, moving on to even more fun stuff. When it comes to container sizes, two main dimensions dominate the market: 20ft and 40ft containers. In general, if you’re planning to perform a small move, a 20ft container is probably the best option to go for. If this isn’t the case, we recommend looking into 40ft containers instead.

What Can I Fit in a 20ft Container?

A 20ft container can generally hold the contents of a three-bedroom property, with a floor space of 146 square feet and a volume hold of 1,172 cubic feet (≈33 cubic meters). These measures translate to a 19’4″ length, 7’9″ width, and 7’10” height. These types of containers can hold around 63,500 pounds of goods.

If you’re having trouble visualizing this, here’s a representation of what the inside of a 20ft container can hold:

Container Shipping Rates 2020: Cost of Shipping a Container

What Can I Fit in a 40ft Container?

In a 40ft container, you can generally hold the contents of a four-bedroom and up a property, with a floor space of 320 square feet and a volume hold of 2,660 cubic feet (≈75.3 cubic meters). These measures translate to a 40′ length, 8′ width, and 8’6″ height. These types of containers can hold around 57,600 pounds of goods -a -a bit less than the 20ft container because of the weight of the container itself.

Below you can find a visual representation of what the inside of a 40ft container can hold:

Container Shipping Rates 2020:

Did You Know…?: Although a 40ft container has twice the volume of a 20ft container, it cannot carry twice the amount of cargo weight due to the weight of the container itself.

Full-Container Load vs. Less-Than Container Load

You probably thought you were done deciding what container to go for, but you’re not ready as of yet! The total volume of your move will be what determines if you’ll need a full container or less than a container to transport your belongings by sea.

Full-Container Load

High-volume moves will usually require a full-container load (FCL), meaning you will have an entire container for yourself (yay!)… The downside is that you will, of course, have to pay for the entire shipping container yourself too (not so yay). Even though it’d be a bit pricier, an FCL move comes with the following advantages:

✅ Better value for money, since shipping companies tend to only charge a flat rate for the full container rather than charging you based on a specified volume.

✅ Faster moving process since there aren’t other people’s household moves involved.

Less-Than Container Load

If you’re performing a small move, you will most likely require only less than a container load (LCL). This entails that you will share the container with someone else –sharing is caring! This means you will only have to pay for the amount of volume your belongings occupy in the container. Usually, an LCL comes with the following ups and downs:

✅ Most cost-effective way to transport small moves compared to other types of freight.

❌ The downside is that your belongings usually take longer to arrive.

Factors that Affect Container Shipping Costs

Like with any move, there are several factors that can affect the cost of shipping a container. Among the most common ones you can expect:

  • Cargo volume and weight: It goes without saying that the bigger the volume of your move, as well as the heavier it is, will result in a more expensive transport of goods.
  • Moving distance: The further apart your point of departure is from your destination, the more expensive your move will be.
  • Destination port: Every country has its own tax and duty charges, so your destination port influences how much you’ll be paying for these in the end.
  • Mode of transport: The way you choose to ship your goods will also influence not only your moving costs, but also the time of arrival of your goods. We elaborate more on this below!
  • Type of goods transported: Transportation of special goods, such as pianos or cars, can also increase the total costs of your move.
  • Additional services: Extra services, such as insurance or storage, will raise up your final container shipping costs.

Container Shipping Rates 2020: Cost of Shipping a Container

Additional Costs to Keep In Mind

Another relevant cost associated with container shipping rates comes from the load and delivery of your goods. Do note that these options will only be available to you if you choose an FCL! When it comes to load and delivery, there are three main ways in which this is done:

  • Port-to-port: With port-to-port, you have the responsibility of delivering the goods to the departure port. The shipping company takes over by shipping the container to the destination port for you to eventually pick up.
  • Door-to-door: With door-to-door, your mover you the option to charge of the whole moving process –starting with the load of the container and finishing up with the unpacking of your goods.
  • Drop-and-fill: With drop-and-fill, the shipping company delivers the container to your house so you can load it up yourself. Alternatively, the shipping company delivers the container to your new home and you’re in charge of unloading it.

Air, Sea, Road: What to Choose?

As you probably already know, there are three main ways by which moves are carried out: road, air, and sea. The way by which you decide to carry out your move will determine how long your shipment will take. As well, it will also determine how expensive the shipment will be.

Road Transport

This is probably a no-brainer, but there are two main ways of road transport that will carry your container: moving trucks and trains. The most commonly used way of road transport is the use of a moving truck, given that all moves will require one at one point or another.


 Often very affordable


 For international moves road transport is rarely an option

Air Freight

Although moving a container by plane is quite difficult and uncommon, it’s still possible. Keep in mind that the containers allowed on planes are not like the common containers we mentioned prior, but rather are specialized containers with specific dimensions. The maximum cargo dimensions for standard air freight planes are 96 x 125 inches. So it’s very unlikely that you will be able to move the contents of a whole household via air freight.


 Quickest mode of transport


 Most expensive way of shipping your household goods

Sea Freight

The most common choice of transport when it comes to international moves is sea freight. We usually recommend that you go for this option if you’re carrying out an overseas move and are taking a significant amount of your belongings with you.


 Can cover long distances
 Cheapest option


 Decent amount of time to arrive

Container Shipping Rates 2020: Cost of Shipping a Container

And that’s, it folks! We are sure that after this very insightful read you can call yourself a true container shipping rates expert. 😉 If you need some extra information when planning your move abroad, we recommend checking out the pages below, which we believe might be interesting for you.