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International vs. Domestic Shipping Containers

By May 4th, 2012 About Containers No Comments

An international shipping container looks like and is constructed very similarly to a domestic shipping container. They are made of corrugated steel panels, have lockable double doors and hardwood flooring on the interior. Domestic shipping containers are not typically utilized for international shipping because of their size. The vessels used to transport containers overseas are constructed to handle twenty-foot equivalent units or TEUs. A 20ft international shipping container is one (1) TEU and a 40ft international shipping container is (2) TEU. The majority of international shipping containers are 20ft and 40ft in length. The idea is to get as many containers as possible on a vessel when transporting cargo.

Domestic shipping containers are usually 48ft and 53ft long. In addition to the length domestic shipping containers are also wider than international shipping containers. Domestic containers are 8ft 6in wide, whereas all of the 20ft and 40ft international shipping containers are 8ft wide.

The container ships are able to handle far more 20ft and 40ft international containers than the 48ft and 53ft domestic containers. In turn this allows for more cargo to be transported overseas. You will primarily see the 48ft and 53ft domestic containers utilized for over the road or rail purposes.

Often times, cargo coming into the U.S. is trans-loaded from 20ft and 40ft international containers to 48ft or 53ft domestic containers in order to be railed to inland locations. The reverse also occurs when export cargo is trans-loaded from domestic containers to international containers for loading on a shipping vessel.

Whether a container is used for international shipping or for domestic purposes, many of them are utilized in the aftermarket. They are mainly used for on-site storage. However, containers are also being converted into mobile offices, storm shelters, mini storage units, residences and much more.



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