Shipping container weight depends on several factors

Typically an empty 20 foot shipping container weighs between 1.8-2.2 metric tonnes (about 3,970 - 4,850 lb) and an empty 40 foot shipping container weighs 3.8 - 4.2 tonne (8,340 - 9,260 lb) depending on what kind of container it is. For example, high cube containers tend to be heavier. More height means more metal, which means more weight!

Read about the 11 most common kinds of shipping containers.

The exact tare weight on an individual shipping container should be displayed on the container doors. However, container weights do vary and these rough working weights are for standard dry iso containers only. Some very old shipping containers can slightly exceed the stated weights above while newer containers are often slightly lighter. This is because more modern manufacturing techniques have enabled container manufacturers to construct shipping containers of the same strength but with less metal.

What is Tare Weight?

Tare weight, sometimes called unladen weight, is the weight of an empty vehicle or container. It is common to determine the weight of goods the tare weight from the gross weight. However, this method can be inaccurate when calculating the weight of an entire truck as other variables, such as fuel, come into play.


How to weigh loaded containers?

While the tare weight of standard ISO containers is generally known, it is much more challenging to weigh a full-loaded shipping container.

There are a number of common container weighing methods. For example:

  • Weighing containers on the ground
  • Weighing containers on a truck (on a chassis)
  • Lifting the container into the air with specialist heavy-lifting equipment
  • Driving a truck with a loaded container over truck scales.

You can read more about these and other options in the free weighing report below.


Why container weighing is required

Having overloaded or unbalanced shipping containers is a risk for shippers and container ships. It is for this reason that the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) in 2016 required shippers to provide a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) before being loaded onto a ship for export.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) put this rule in place because misdeclared and overweight containers are extremely dangerous and cause a number of accidents every year. The overall aim of the rule is to increase safety and protect people, equipment and cargo, so it's very important for us all to abide by it.

While this is not a requirement in all countries, In many countries, it is required to provide an official weight before shipping.

Read more about conforming to SOLAS VGM regulations here. 

Access the free container weighing report

Most companies waste money when weighing shipping containers.

The main reason is because the most popular container weighing options are inflexible or very expensive. This forces operators to either overspend on capital equipment or waste time hauling containers to be weighed by others.

Written for shippers, forwarders, carriers, packers and consolidators, this free container weighing report is an essential guide for anyone in the container transport chain who wants to be aware of the different options available for efficient container weight management and SOLAS VGM compliance.


Get our special report on Container weighing options and you will learn:

  • The 7 most common ways to weigh containers
  • Explanations of where each method fits in the supply logistics chain
  • A detailed analysis of the pros and cons of each option
  • How you can weigh shipping containers on and off chassis
  • The most flexible solution for weighing shipping containers

The e-Book profiles 7 different options in the market. It includes a useful 1-page comparison table and then digs deeper into each option, covering: 

  • A description of the container weighing option
  • Defining where the solution fits into the logistics chain
  • A detailed analysis of the pros & cons of each option 


Fill in the form below to get your free report:

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