Standard dry shipping containers are 8 feet wide and 8.5 feet high, with a length of 20 or 40 feet. Special types of shipping containers may vary from these standard dimensions. These variant container types include half-size containers, gas tanks and automobile containers.
Eight feet by 8 feet by 20 feet is the standard measurement for shipping containers. This size is called the TEU and is used to measure cargo vessel capacity and cargo volume. Eight feet by 8 feet by 40 feet is the most common size of shipping container. When used as a measurement, this size is called the FEU.
Some special types of shipping container conform to standard sizes. Containers with open tops, sides or ends are examples of special shipping containers that follow standard ISO sizing. Ventilated and refrigerated containers come in both standard and variant sizes. An example of a non-standard container size is a 45-foot refrigerated container. This container is 9.5 feet high, 8 feet wide and 45 feet long and is mechanically refrigerated for temperature-sensitive products.
Shipping container sizes and safety requirements are governed by ISO standards and the International Convention for Safe Containers. These standards apply everywhere the world, including the United States, because shipping containers must be the same size to stack properly during transport.