Overseas container options

You’ve sorted through all your household items and have now determined that shipping is the way to go. There are two ways to get your belongings overseas: by air and by sea. Air is much quicker but must more expensive. We, as would most international movers, recommend going by sea. It takes a bit longer but is much more affordable. Working with your international mover you may have some options when it comes to the container type your goods are shipped in.

Why should you care about boring stuff like containers? (And we admit, it’s pretty boring.) Well, because it will impact the cost of your move.

Regardless of where you are going or who you hire, your goods will be put into a container. A container is a large rectangular storage unit that will get put on the ship.

The most common type of container is a dry storage container used to ship most household items. Other options include refrigerated containers, insulated/thermal containers, and car carriers. The two most commonly used container sizes for household goods are 20ft and 40ft containers.


20ft Shipping Container

Suitable for: 1-2 bedroom moves or a car with only a few boxes.
Typical measurements:
Size (LxWxH): 19′ 10.5″ x 8′ 0″ x 8′ 6″ (6.1m x 2.4m x 2.6m)

Total internal volume: 1,169 ft³ (33.1 m³)

Net shipping load: 61,289 lb (28,200 kg)


40ft Shipping Container

Suitable for: 3-5 bedroom moves or a car plus a typical two bedroom move
Typical measurements:
Size (LxWxH): 40′ 0″ x 8′ 0″ x 8′ 6″ (12.2m x 2.4m x 2.6m)

Total internal volume: 2,385 ft³ (67.5 m³)

Net shipping load: 57,759 lb (26,600 kg

Overseas Shipping Container Sizes

A Full Container Load (FCL) refers to a container that is filled completely with your home’s contents and only your contents. A Less than Container Load (LCL) refers to a container that is only partially filled with your home’s contents and may be filled with items belonging to other people. An LCL may also be referred to as a shared container.

When your goods do not fill a container (i.e. you have LCL) there are generally three options:

  • 1. The company will consolidate other shipments into the same container (called groupage), typically by putting your stuff in a lift van. A lift van is a wooden box (think of a pallet with walls and a roof); it generally has a length of 86″ (~2.2 meters) so anything longer than this, like a big sofa, will not fit. With groupage, your goods will sit in a warehouse until there is enough to fill a container. If you’re going somewhere that doesn’t get a lot of traffic, this can take a while.
  • 2. The company does its own consolidation and so is not constrained to shipping every single item in a lift van.
  • 3. The moving company does not consolidate other goods in LCL containers and would, therefore, charge you for the entire container, even though your stuff only fills up part of the container. This is called a sole use container.

Be sure to discuss FCL and LCL when you get your moving quotes from GoodMigrations’ partners. This is very important in getting an understanding of timing and how quickly your belongings will be shipped.

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