Container Shipping Costs: 2020 Rates and Information
Container shipping costs can vary greatly, ranging between £500 and £3500, so it can be hard to know which container type and size you may need. This page provides you with a comprehensive view of all the information you will need about international shipping rates and information. You can also visit our page for the best international movers to make an informed choice on your container shipping company.
Container Shipping Costs
How much does a shipping container cost? What is the cheapest international shipping cost? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for these questions. The cost of a shipping container will depend on the type of transportation you take, the volume of your move and the destination. However, below you can find some estimated container moving costs to various places around the globe.
These estimations are based on port-to-port, sea-based transportation for a household move valued at £38,000 from London.
Container Shipping Costs to Europe:
Container Shipping Costs to North America:
|U.S. (New York)||£1800-£1970||£2400-£2600|
Container Shipping Costs to Australasia:
Container Shipping Costs to Asia:
Container Shipping Costs to Africa:
|S. Africa (Cape Town)||£1300-£1500||£1700-£2000|
Container Shipping Costs to South America:
|Venezuela (P. Cabello)||£2100-£2300||£2700-£3100|
For more information, feel free to check out the official website of World Freight Rates. Otherwise, read on to find out how these costs are broken down.
Factors that Influence Container Shipping Costs
The two main factors that will influence container shipping rates are the volume and distance of the move. For example, a move from the UK to Europe will cost less than a move from the UK to the US. Removal companies will often request the volume of your move, so you can use our volume calculator to save time when requesting quotes.
Other factors that will influence the shipping container costs are:
- Mode of transport (land, sea or air)
- Time of your move (summer vs winter – summer is usually more expensive)
- Type of container (shared or not)
- Departure and arrival port (more popular routes tend to cost less than rare ones)
- Additional services (storage, assembling/disassembling, insurance)
- Type of goods
How long does shipping take? What is the best way of shipping?
The answers will vary depending on the different mode of transport chosen for shipping. There are three ways to move freight internationally: by land, by sea, and by air. In general, your shipment could take between a couple of days and a few weeks. Transporting freight (goods carried in bulk in containers) will normally be done at least partly by land and could indeed use all three methods! However, normally the best way of shipping is by sea, as although it is slow it is relatively cheap.
Land (Truck & Trains)
There are two types of land transportation used to ship containers: trucks and trains (via rail).
Virtually all moves will involve a truck at some point. Moves within the same country or continent will likely be done entirely by truck and by the same company. If you move overseas, then it is likely that there will be at least two moving companies involved that will coordinate between each other.
Speed: Trucks can drive as fast as roads allow, so you can expect the time to take between a few days and a couple of weeks depending on the distance.
Costs: Can be fairly high, but an unavoidable part of the shipping process.
Using trains to move shipping containers is also very common, as it can be more cost effective than using a truck for long distance moves, particularly across an entire continent.
Speed: Usually takes longer than trucks, but this depends on the origin and destination.
Cost: Normally costs less than trucks.
Shipping by sea is one of the most common ways of moving goods and is what is most often meant by container shipping. Sea freight is the cheapest ways to transport your household internationally, but it is also one of the slowest methods. However, if you’re moving goods between continents, you normally have little choice but to use sea freight.
Speed: Slow – this will depend on the route travelled, but normally at least a few weeks.
Cost: Despite the long distances, it is normally good value for money
Transporting goods by air is the quickest but most expensive mode of shipping. A full household will rarely be moved in such a way due to the high costs, as it is often at least ten times as expensive as moving by sea. It is therefore advised to only use air freight if you need a few of your items to arrive in your new county when you do, but it is more cost effective to send most items by boat.
Speed: Very fast – only a few days.
Cost: 10 times more expensive than shipping by sea.
When it comes to choosing your shipping container, there are a few factors to take into consideration.
If you are transporting your goods by sea, then they will be loaded into a container and stored on a vessel for transit. You will then decide whether to fill a container with your own goods (FCL) or share a container (LCL).
LCL stands for ‘less than container load’. It is very flexible, is often delivered to your more conveniently, you only pay for what you ship and is therefore a more cost-effective way of transporting smaller volumes. However, it is also more expensive per cubic metre, often takes longer to arrive, and your goods will be handled more by others.
FCL stands for ‘full container load’, and it is used when you pay for the entire container rather than just using to use a part of it. There is a flat rate for the container and you have access to it in its entirety. Often FCL is quicker than LCL and is often cheaper per cubic metre, and it is only you and your supplier who touch your goods, which in turn reduces the chance of damage. However, your delivery options are restricted, you need to import a larger volume of stock, and the unloading is labour intensive.
So, which should you choose? The answer depends on the volume of your shipment and what will be more efficient for you. For a household move, you will normally use LCL, but you can always choose FCL if you have goods which are fragile or have special delivery requirements. Also, shipping companies tend to prefer FCL as it makes the logistics a lot simpler.
Container Shipping Sizes
What container sizes do I need?
Most often you will come across 20ft containers or 40ft containers. Occasionally you will find 10ft containers, but these tend to be rarely used when moving house. In general, a smaller move may only require a 20ft container, and a 4-bedroom household a 40ft one. However, any bigger than that and you may want to look into hiring more than one container to ship all of your goods.
Typical dimensions of a 20ft shipping container
A 20ft container can hold around 30-35 cubic metres and is normally suitable for a 1-2 bedroom move.
Size: 6.1m x 2.4m x 2.6m
Total volume: 33.1 m³
Total shipping load: 28,200 kg
Typical dimensions of a 40ft shipping container
A 40ft container can hold around 65-75 cubic metres and is normally suitable for a 4+ bedroom move. While 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.
Size: 12.2m x 2.4m x 2.6m
Total volume: 67.5 m³
Total shipping load: 26,600 kg
Loading and Delivery Options
Another cost you will need to take into consideration are your loading and delivery options. These are often included in your removal company costs, but it is good to confirm your selection with your moving company/freight forwarder/ NVOCC (non-vessel operating common carrier).
(Note that while there is a lot of crossover with these terms, they are not all one and the same. For example, an NVOCC is an ocean carrier that does not have its own ships and tends to be the one responsible for the loads transported. Make sure you are well informed on all the differences between freight forwarders and NVOCCs. )
If you are planning an FCL move, then you may have up to three options:
- Port to port: This is the most basic option and is what most rates are based on. You are responsible for getting your goods to the origin port and picking them up from the destination port to your new home.
- Drop and fill: This is when the container is dropped off at your house, but you fill it up yourself. Alternatively, the shipping company can drop the container at your new house, and you are the one who then unloads it. You can choose whether to use local movers to unload your goods into your new home, but they will be separate from the shipping company.
- Door to door: This is the most common choice when moving abroad, but also the most expensive. Your mover will have the container delivered to your house, they will pack it, they will move it to the port, they will ship it, it will be delivered to your new house and then unpacked. This is not only the easiest option, but also the recommended option for an LCL container.
Other International Moving Costs
- Shipping cars: Car shipping costs can vary tremendously depending on how quickly you need your car and which shipping method you use. If you’re shipping your car by sea via container, for example, it could cost only a couple of hundred pounds, but then could take over a month to arrive. You can read more on this page dedicated to vehicle shipping.
- Insurance: Peace of mind when moving does come with a price tag. If you are shipping your entire home overseas, preparing for the worst and insuring everything is a smart decision to make.
- Customs charges and taxes: Before you move abroad, check the regulations of your destination country regarding international moves so you know if you will have any taxes or duties imposed on the value of your goods.
- Packing costs: Sometimes packing costs are unavoidable with certain moving companies as they must pack themselves for insurance and tax purposes. However, it is good to check his with your own moving company.
- Storage costs: If you are moving with your career and therefore not certain to be moving abroad permanently, a cheaper option than shipping all of your furniture could be to look into storage costs in your home country. Check out our page on moving your house into storage for further information.
We hope that you have found this page informative and that you know a bit more about which containers you may need and how much you should expect to budget for them. There are many variables that need to be considered before you decide what type of shipping method you will use. It is therefore important that you choose the right removal company that can help you decide what is best for you.
Also, you may find these other pages on Sirelo of interest to you:
- Moving Abroad: Get the best tips for moving abroad!
- Removal Volume Calculator: Calculate the volume of your move
- Moving Boxes: Your guide on where to get moving boxes
- Moving Furniture : How to move furniture – the ultimate step-by-step guide
We wish you the best of luck with booking your international shipping company!