How do I ship refrigerated cargo in a container? What is the Size of a Reefer Container?

 If you are shipping cargo that needs to be refrigerated (e.g. you are shipping food or beverages overseas), or is otherwise sensitive to heat your best bet for international container shipping are Reefer (Refrigerated) Containers.

A 40′ Reefer container.

Containerized transport is the world standard for low cost 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. From there the containers can be loaded directly onto truck chassis (an intermodal move). Reefer containers have refrigeration units inside them, but are powered by an external power source on the carrying vessel or truck.

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

20′ Reefer
Inside Length 17′ 8” 5.38 m
Inside Width 7′ 5” 2.26 m
Inside Height 7′ 5” 2.26 m
Door Width 7′ 5” 2.26 m
Door Height 7′ 3” 2.20 m
Capacity 1,000 cubic feet 28.31 cubic meters
Tare Weight 7, 040 lbs 3, 193 kgs
Maximum Cargo 45, 760* lbs 20, 756* kgs
40′ Reefer
Inside Length 37′ 8” 11.48 m
Inside Width 7′ 5” 2.26 m
Inside Height 7′ 2” 2.18 m
Door Width 7′ 5” 2.26 m
Door Height 7′ 0” 2.13 m
Capacity 2, 040 cubic feet 57.76 cubic meters
Tare Weight 10, 780 lbs 4, 889 kgs
Maximum Cargo 56, 276* lbs 25, 526* 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. Open Top, Flat Rack, 45′), but the above covers the interior dimensions of Reefer containers.

What you are shipping will change the best container to use. Other international shipping companies will give you what appears to be a great quote for international refrigerated container shipping, but will continue adding fees as the shipment continues, since they did not advise you correctly at 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: and Skype: kinternationalny