When should I use an Open Top container? What are the dimensions of a container?

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If you are shipping cargo that has a height that exceeds the height of a container, or cargo that is best packed through the roof of the container (e.g. it is being loaded with a crane) one of the options for international container shipping are open-topped containers.


An open topped container with doors open and tarp off. The bands on top can swing open for loading.
Containerized transport is the world standard for efficient international ocean freight. Large vessels can be loaded with stacks of containers, maximizing the carrying capacity of the vessels, while also enabling easy compartmentalization of different cargo. This also makes it much less difficult to load and unload the vessel at ports by using cranes. Open top containers have no solid roof, but have a removable tarp covering, and bands across the top that can swing open for easier loading by crane.

There are a few different types of containers. The important dimensions for Open Top containers are as follows:

20′ Open Top
Inside Length19′ 4”5.89 m
Inside Width7′ 7”2.31 m
Inside Height7′ 8”2.33 m
Door Width7′ 6”2.28 m
Door Height7′ 2”2.18 m
Capacity1,136 cubic feet32.16 cubic meters
Tare Weight5, 280 lbs2, 394 kgs
Maximum Cargo47, 620* lbs21, 600* kgs
40′ Open Top
Inside Length39′ 5”12.01 m
Inside Width7′ 8”2.33 m
Inside Height7′ 8”2.33 m
Door Width7′ 8”2.33 m
Door Height7′ 5”2.28 m
Capacity2, 350 cubic feet67.67 cubic meters
Tare Weight8, 490 lbs3, 701 kgs
Maximum Cargo58, 710* lbs26, 630* kgs

*Legal weight and weight maximum for steamship line may be lower than this number

There are a few other types of containers (e.g. refrigerated, Flat Rack, 45′), but the above covers the dimensions of Open Top containers.

The better idea we get of the size of what you are shipping, the better we will be able to accurately quote you, based on the best container to use. Other companies will give you what appears to be a great quote, but will continue adding fees as the shipment continues, since they did not advise you correctly from the start. K International Transport gets it right from step one, so you can budget accurately and stay on budget.

Contact us today to receive international shipping rates, we can be reached by phone at 212-267-6400, email: inquiries@kinternational.comand Skype:kinternationalny