Price of Shipping Containers: Current Market Trends

The cost of shipping containers varies widely based on several factors, including their size, condition, and the current market demand. Typically, prices for new containers may range from $2,000 to $5,000 for a standard 20-foot unit. For those looking for more affordable options, used shipping containers can provide a viable alternative, with costs ranging from $1,400 to $3,000 for a similar-sized container, depending on its condition and age.

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Shipping containers are versatile and durable, making them suitable for a plethora of uses beyond cargo transport, such as storage solutions or as a basic building block for various architectural projects. The price of a new 20′ container is on the higher end due to the benefits of unused condition and longevity, while used containers are less expensive, reflecting their wear and history of usage. Buyers must consider their specific needs when deciding between a new or a used container, as the price reflects the expected lifespan and condition of the unit.

The industry offers a range of shipping containers for sale, including standard sizes like 10ft, 20ft, and 40ft, as well as specialized dimensions and modifications such as high-cube or containers with roll-up doors. The purchase process is straightforward, with suppliers often providing delivery and customization services to tailor the container to the customer’s requirements. Understanding the intersection of price, condition, and intended use is key to making an informed decision when entering the market for a shipping container.

Overview of Shipping Containers

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Shipping containers are standardized, reusable steel boxes used for the secure handling and storage of materials within global trade. Commonly referred to as intermodal freight containers, they are designed to be moved without unloading and reloading their contents.

Container Types:

  • Standard Containers: Predominantly used for dry cargo, they are fully enclosed with rigid walls, roofs, and floors. Doors are located at one or both ends.
  • High Cube Containers: Similar to standard containers but with a greater height for taller goods.

Container Dimensions:

  • Standard 20-foot: Typically 20ft in length, 8ft wide, and 8.5ft high.
  • Standard 40-foot: Measures 40ft in length, 8ft wide, and 8.5ft high.
  • 40-foot High Cube: Similar dimensions to the standard 40-foot with an additional foot in height, making it 9.5ft high.

Container Sizes:

Type Length Width Height
20ft Standard 20ft 8ft 8.5ft
40ft Standard 40ft 8ft 8.5ft
40ft High Cube 40ft 8ft 9.5ft

These containers offer a secure and efficient way to consolidate goods, reducing handling costs and minimizing cargo damage. The consistent dimensioning facilitates easy stacking and storage, making shipping containers integral to transport infrastructure. Whether for transporting consumer goods across oceans or repurposing as a storage unit or even architectural space, shipping containers provide a versatile solution in logistics and beyond.

Types of Shipping Containers

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Different types of shipping containers are specifically designed to meet various requirements in the transport and storage industry. They vary by dimensions and build, catering to different cargo needs.

Standard Containers

Standard containers, often referred to as dry containers, are the most common type used in shipping. They come mainly in two sizes: the 20ft container, a versatile size suitable for various cargoes, and the 40ft container, which offers a larger storage capacity for goods.

High-Cube Containers

High-cube containers offer additional height compared to standard containers, making them ideal for light, voluminous cargo or oversized items. A high-cube container typically provides an extra foot in height, which is particularly beneficial for transporting large items.

Open-Top Containers

Open-top containers come with a convertible top that can be completely removed to facilitate the loading of cargo from above. These containers are perfect for heavy or bulky cargo that cannot be easily loaded through standard doors.

Refrigerated Containers

Refrigerated containers, also known as reefer containers, are used to transport perishable goods that need temperature control. They are an essential component in the cold chain logistics, keeping products like foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals at the required temperatures throughout transit.

Factors Affecting Shipping Container Prices

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The cost of shipping containers can fluctuate based on a variety of factors. These include the size and type of container, its condition, and the distance and logistics involved in its delivery.

Size and Type

The shipping container’s dimensions and build significantly influence its pricing. Standard container sizes typically range from 20 feet to 40 feet, with specialized types like high-cube or refrigerated units commanding higher prices. For instance, a 20-foot standard container may cost less than a 40-foot high-cube container due to differences in volume capacity and the materials required for their construction.


Second-hand containers, often referred to as used shipping containers, come at varied price points depending on their condition. Prices may be lower for used containers showing signs of wear or having dents, as opposed to “one-trip” containers that are nearly new and have been used for a single cargo load.

Distance and Delivery

Logistics play a pivotal role in shipping container pricing. Costs can escalate with the increase in distance from the container’s origin to the delivery point. Moreover, delivery to remote or inaccessible locations incurs a higher fee due to the additional transportation and handling required.

Purchasing Used Shipping Containers

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When searching for used shipping containers, it is crucial to rigorously assess their condition, understand the customization options available, and ensure that security features meet your requirements. These aspects are essential to making an informed purchase.

Evaluating Condition

A used shipping container’s condition significantly impacts its price. Key elements to scrutinize include rust, leaks, and dents. Buyers should personally inspect containers or request current photos and insist on a certification of the container’s condition. The most common grades are:

  • IICL: Best condition, suitable for shipping
  • CW: Cargo Worthy, acceptable for transport and storage
  • WWT: Wind and Water Tight, good for storage
  • As-is: Likely to have damage; buyer beware

It is strongly advised to check for:

  • Rust patches: Minor surface rust can be treated, but extensive corrosion can compromise structural integrity.
  • Dents: Look for any that might impede stacking or indicate past overloading.
  • Door operation: Doors should open and close properly with intact seals.

Customization Options

Customization of a used container may vary from simple paint jobs to complex modifications such as adding shelves, windows, or HVAC systems. Comprehending the extent of customization is important for aligning with intended use. For instance:

  • Paint: A fresh coat can enhance appearance and lifespan.
  • Cut-outs: For doors, windows, or vents to increase functionality.
  • Interior Modifications: Insulation or shelving for specific storage needs.

Ensuring Security

Security features for used shipping containers are paramount, especially if they are purposed for storage of valuable items. Buyers should verify the presence and condition of:

  • Lock boxes: Sturdy, tamper-proof containers for padlocks.
  • Crossbar locks: Additional locks for enhanced security.
  • Alarm systems: Could be considered for high-value storage needs.

Each element should be diligently inspected to ensure it meets the security requirements of the buyer.

Additional Costs and Considerations

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When purchasing a shipping container, one must consider not only the basic cost of the container itself but also the additional expenses that accompany its acquisition. These can significantly affect the total investment necessary for procurement and subsequent use.

Delivery Fees

Delivery charges are a pivotal factor in the overall cost of a shipping container. Depending on the distance from the supplier to the delivery site, fees can escalate quickly. For example, Angi suggests that most homeowners incur considerable expenses in this area, which varies with the provider. Companies like Boxhub specialize in container sales and typically offer a clear outline of their delivery costs, ensuring buyers can account for this when planning their budget.

Container Longevity

The lifespan of a shipping container is influenced by the materials used in its construction—typically, high-grade steel—and the environment in which it resides. New containers have a longevity that can span several decades, whereas used conditions may vary. Prospective buyers should factor in maintenance costs to extend the container’s service life, whether used for storage, construction, or repurposing.

Repurposing and Modification

Modifications to shipping containers for purposes such as home construction or mobile offices add to their cost. The complexity of changes—ranging from installing insulation and windows to intricate designs—can dramatically increase the financial outlay beyond the initial container purchase. “Container Xchange” breaks down varying price points depending on the type and extent of modifications a buyer plans, an essential consideration for those looking to repurpose their containers.

Industry-Specific Solutions

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The shipping container industry has evolved to meet the diverse needs of modern storage and transportation. Enterprises can choose from an array of containers tailored for specific goods, ensuring efficiency and security in movement and storage.

Storage and Transportation

Storage Containers: These are fundamentally robust and standardized to facilitate the secure storage of goods. They come in a variety of sizes, typically 20 ft and 40 ft, to accommodate different volumes of cargo. Companies looking to optimize their storage space might opt for High Cube containers, which offer additional height.

For Transportation: The logistics sector heavily relies on these containers for their versatility in handling various types of cargo. They are engineered to maintain structural integrity over long sea voyages and withstand harsh environmental conditions, which is critical for preserving the condition of the transported goods.

Specialized Containers

Reefers: Reefers, or refrigerated containers, are essential for transporting perishable goods that need temperature control. They are integral in maintaining the cold supply chain for products such as pharmaceuticals and fresh produce. The market for smart containers, such as technologically advanced reefers, is growing as they offer real-time monitoring of cargo conditions.

Customization Options: Certain goods require modified containers for safe transport. This might involve customization such as added insulation, ventilation, or unique dimensions. Tailor-made solutions ensure that sensitive or unusually-sized commodities reach their destinations without compromise.

By providing industry-specific solutions through storage containers and specialized containers, the shipping container market effectively caters to a vast range of logistics requirements.

Container SizeNew (Zero) Price Range (USD)Second Hand Price Range (USD)
10 ft2,750 – 5,0001,500 – 3,000
20 ft3,395 – 5,5001,395 – 3,500
40 ft4,795 – 8,0001,695 – 4,500
50 ft8,000 – 12,0003,000 – 6,000

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