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What Is the Average Cost of a Shipping Container?

All over the world, 90% of the world’s products are shipped by sea, in shipping containers.

Millions of shipping containers travel the world every day, and not all of them are for shipping freight. Shipping containers find a use for everything from off-grid housing to cheap living spaces and storage sheds. This leads to the question, what is the cost of a shipping container?

Let’s break down what goes into calculating the cost of shipping containers.

Types of Shipping Containers

When people think of a shipping container they often think of a metal rectangular object. This is because the most common container is a 20ft long, 8 ft wide box. However, this is not the only type of shipping container that is available.

You can get refrigerated shipping containers, temperature-controlled shipping containers, and specialty containers that come in a large variety. The more rare a container is, the more it will cost you, as will any additional features like a refrigeration unit. The more expensive to build, the more expensive it to buy.

There are also shipping cubes that are square instead of rectangular. A cube shipping container will cost you between $4,000 and $7,500. This is for a 40ft cube, so there is a lot of space available inside the container. Refrigerated containers can cost over $10,000.

Here are other types of common containers you may encounter:

  • Standard dry container
  • Double door container
  • Open top container
  • Insulated or thermal container
  • Refrigerated container
  • Tank container
  • Half-height container
  • Car carrier container
  • Drums
  • Open side container
  • Special-purpose container

Size of Shipping Container

Shipping containers come in a variety of sizes, but the most common are 10ft, 20ft, and 40ft in length. Most are around 8 feet wide, and they range in height from around 9 ft to around 10ft. Due to shipping container uses being so varied, the industry does make some different sizes but they are more rare.

A standard shipping container is 20ft long, and it will cost around $5,000 to buy a new one. The larger containers will cost more, so the bigger the container is the more money it will take. Custom containers can be more expensive as well, depending on the rarity of the container.

In general the smaller the container, the cheaper the purchasing price. This does give flexibility to companies and individuals who may not need a large container, but still have products to ship or a use for the container outside of the supply chain.

Proximity to Port

The further away you live from a port, the more expensive it will be to get a shipping container. The cost to ship a shipping container is a crucial consideration. These are large metal containers that require special consideration to transport, the weight isn’t as large an issue as the size.

For instance, a 40ft shipping container is going to require a truck to make a special delivery, with that as the only cargo. This can increase the cost of the shipping container by thousands of dollars. On the other hand, if you live right next to a port, you may pay almost nothing for shipping.

The size of the container also plays into the shipping cost, the larger the container the more effort and money it takes to move it. Smaller containers can ride on trucks with other cargo or move around on trains with no difficulty.

There is some variance in the cost of shipping containers also based on proximity to the manufacturer, and which manufacturer you get the container from. The country of origin can also impact the cost of the container.

New or Used

A shipping container is like anything else, the newer it is the more expensive it will be. A used shipping container can often be purchased for 60% – 75% of the cost of a new one. That means you could expect to pay between $3,000 and $4,500 for a standard used shipping container.

This rule also applies to specialty containers, with some losing more of their value after being used than others. The condition they are in will have an impact as well, if they are heavily used then you can expect them to be cheaper. The more pristine, the closer to the full price you’ll have to pay.

Availability of Shipping Containers

Another factor in determining how much you’re going to pay is how many extra shipping containers there are. The more shipping containers on the market, the cheaper they will get. IN a period where there are some shortages of shipping containers this can increase the cost.

This is the case for standard-sized shipping containers, but not for all shipping containers. There are some shipping containers that there is no shortage of, and that isn’t so large and cumbersome to ship or move. Instead of spending $6,000 on a new 40ft container, you might only need a small sea can.

Average Shipping Container Cost

All of these factors contribute to the cost of a shipping container, driving the price up or down. One of the largest reasons for companies and people paying too much for shipping containers is getting more than they need. The smaller, specialized containers are often a cheaper and more accurate investment.

In the end, you can expect that for new containers the price will run from $5,000 and up. For used containers, you can start around $2,000 and it goes up from there.

Cost of a Shipping Container

Now that we’ve broken down the cost of a shipping container and what factors go into determining the cost, you have the knowledge you need to make a wise purchase. Don’t get more than you need, get the right size of container for your purposes, and you will save money.

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