How Much Does a 20-Foot Shipping Container Weigh?

When we’re talking about the weight of a 20ft shipping container, it usually pertains to its tare weight. A 20 ft. dry shipping container has a weight of around 2,300kg (5,071 lbs). It has a maximum payload capacity of 52,813 lbs, which means its gross weight is around 50,055 lbs.

Want to know more about how much does a 20-Foot shipping container weigh? In this ultimate guide, we’ve covered all the standard weights, average weights, and maximum weights of a 20ft shipping container so you can easily know how heavy it is and how much stuff you can load in it.

Whether you need a brand new 20ft shipping container or a used 20ft shipping container, Shipping Container Depot got you covered! We are your #1 shipping container supplier in Los Angeles ready to ship affordable and quality cargo containers.

20 ft Shipping Container Weight at a Glance

Here is the various 20-foot shipping container weights depending on the type.

Tare Weight (lbs) Tare Weight (kg) Maximum Gross Weight (lbs) Maximum Gross Weight (kg) Maximum Payload Weight (lbs)

Maximum Payload weight


Standard 20 ft Shipping Container 5,000 2268 55,126 25,000 50,055 22,700
20ft High Cube Shipping Container 5100 2,313 67,200 30,480 62,281 28,250
20’ Reefer Container 6,791.4 3,080 67,200 lb 30,480 kg 60,417 27,400

Why Container Weighing is Required

Weighing containers is important so as to ensure that the shipping process is completed accurately. When containers are weighed prior to shipment or transportation, it helps to prevent the overloading of containers, which can result in damaged goods or lost shipments. It also increases safety and protects people and passengers during shipment.

These are also the reason why the International Maritime Organisation requires shippers to provide a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) for each container before it can be loaded onto a ship for export.

By weighing containers, shippers can also be sure that they are using the most efficient shipping route possible. In some cases, this can mean significant cost savings.

Weighing containers is thus an essential part of the shipping process and one that should not be overlooked.

3 types of weights for a 20ft shipping container:

  • Tare Weight
  • Maximum Gross Weight
  • Maximum Payload Weight

Shipping Containers

What is Tare Weight?

Tare weight is the weight of an empty cargo container. It is important to know the tare weight of a container when shipping goods, as it helps to determine the total shipping cost. Tare weight can also be used to calculate the net weight of the contents of the 20ft container, which is the product’s weight minus the tare weight of the container.

The tare weight of a 20 ft shipping container can vary, but standard dry containers usually weigh around 2,200 lbs. This weight does not include special types of containers like open tops, flat racks, or tanks.

How Much Does an Empty 20 ft Storage Container Weigh?

The tare weight of an empty 20 ft shipping container is typically 1.8-2.2 metric tonnes (4000 – 4850lbs; 1,800 – 2,200kg). You can find the exact weight on the container doors.

Container weights can vary, but these are for standard dry containers only. Older shipping containers may weigh slightly more than the stated weights, but this is rare. Younger containers are often slightly lighter due to improved manufacturing techniques allowing them to have less metal but with the same strength.

What is Maximum Gross Weight?

The maximum gross weight of a container is its container weight plus the weight of its contents. Again, the maximum gross weight is painted outside the 20ft cargo container door. If it is 44,000lbs, this means that the 20-foot container can hold a total of that amount which includes the weight of the container itself.

It’s important to keep track of this maximum weight, because if the container exceeds it, then it becomes overloaded.

What is the 20 ft Shipping Container Max Weight?

The Max gross weight of a 20’ container is 24 tons. This weight limitation is implemented by the ISO 668:1995 which includes the weight of the container itself and the cargo loaded inside.

The purpose of this standard is to provide a uniform international dry shipping container for the intermodal transportation of goods. By intermodal, this means that a 20ft shipping container can be used anywhere in the world in different modes of transportation (sea, train, and land).

Before this standard was set by the ISO, there were many different sizes and types of shipping containers in use around the world, which made it difficult to transfer goods between different modes of transportation.

Transporting 20ft Shipping Containers by Highway Transport

A triaxle chassis is a heavy-duty truck frame that supports three axles. It is typically used for hauling large loads, such as construction equipment or oversize vehicles. The maximum cargo weight that can be safely and legally loaded onto a triaxle chassis varies by state, but it is typically around 44,000 pounds (19,958 kilograms).

This weight limit ensures that the truck can safely handle the load and that the roadways can support the weight of the truck. When hauling a large load, it is important to check the weight limit for the triaxle chassis and make sure that the load does not exceed this limit. Doing so will help to prevent damage to the truck and to the roadway.

What is the Maximum Payload Weight?

Payload weight or Net weight is the weight of things that a shipping container can hold. It doesn’t include the weight of the container itself.

What’s the Maximum Load for a 20-foot Container?

You can load a 20-foot container up to a maximum weight of 28 tons (25,400kg). Take note that the maximum loading capacity of the container depends on possible restrictions, the type of material in the cargo, and other reasons.

Nevertheless, it is clear that such a container could hold a great deal of material. For comparison, a standard car typically weighs between 1.5 and 2 tons. Therefore, a 20-foot container could theoretically hold the equivalent of 14 to 17 cars. In other words, it is possible to pack a great deal of material into a single 20-foot container.

How Many Pallets Can Fit into a 20-foot Container?

A 20ft container can fit 11 European pallets or 10 American pallets. It is generally best to stack the pallets in rows along the length and width of the container. This will ensure that the load does not hang over the sides of the container.

Stacking Weights

Stacking Weight

You can stack 20ft containers up to 8 containers high. In addition, if you stack containers from corner to corner it can reach up to 240 tonnes of weight. This also makes it feasible for shipping containers to be used as alternative housing units or structural components.

How to Weigh Loaded Shipping Containers

The tare weight, or empty weight, of these containers, is generally published and known. It is only when these containers are filled with cargo that their true weight and mass become important factors in transport.

Weighing a full-loaded shipping container is a complex task that must take into account the varied types and sizes of cargo, as well as the container’s potential tare weight.

There are generally four ways to weigh a full-loaded shipping container:

  • Weighing containers on the ground
  • Weighing containers on a truck (on a chassis)
  • Lifting the container into the air with specialist heavy-lifting equipment
  • Driving a truck with a loaded container over truck scales.

Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to choose the right one for the situation.

How to Weigh Shipping Containers on a Chassis

There are three ways to weigh a shipping container on a chassis: using a trailer suspension weighing system, placing it on a weighbridge, or using axle weigh pads.

  1. The trailer suspension weighing system is the least accurate method, with an accuracy of only 3-5%.
  2. Weighbridges are more accurate, but they can be expensive and take up a lot of space.
  3. Axle weigh pads are the most accurate and economical option. They are lightweight and portable, and they transmit data to a central indicator.

Flooring Allowable Weights

Container floors are traditionally made from hardwood plywood, which can withstand more than 6000 cargo movements during its lifespan. However, more and more container manufacturers are using sustainable, fast-growing bamboo as an alternative material. Bamboo is just as tough as hardwood plywood, but is better for the environment.


We hope this article has answered your question on “What does a 20-foot shipping container weigh?” or “How much does a 20-foot shipping container weigh?”

In a nutshell, the basis of its weight is usually a dry shipping container type and can be summarized as follows:

Tare weight: 5,071 lbs
Maximum payload capacity: 52,813 lbs
Max gross weight: 50,055 lbs

About Shipping Container Depot

Shipping Container Depot is a company that provides new and used shipping containers for sale and lease. The company specializes in shipping container conversions, which involve converting the containers into habitable living spaces, office containers, pop-up restaurants, or shops.

Visit our website, email us at or give us a call today at (626) 765-9446 to order your shipping container needs.

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