« Back to Knowledge Base

Domestic and International Container Shipping Rates

Several factors go into container shipping rates, such as if the container is loaded, empty, or needs loading assistance. Local or domestic container shipping rates differ vastly from international container shipping rates. International container transport requires extra steps, customs paperwork, and more. Domestic container moves often cost less than shipping overseas.

Below is an accurate and detailed review of container shipping rates based on origin and destination ports. We've also included information on any additional cost of transport needed per container and how it factors into an overall container shipment.

Updated March 2023

Share This Article:

Darkened background of transport photos combined

Domestic and International Container Shipping Rates

Shipping containers are one of the most common modes of transportation. They are extremely popular for transporting freight and cargo. You can also convert them into homes and even swimming pools.

If you use them in any way, when it comes time to transport, you’ll need to find out more about the cost of container shipping. Below, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about container shipping rates.

How are Container Shipping Rates Determined?

Shipping container transport rates are determined by a variety of factors that often fluctuate and change depending on circumstances, the economy, and more.

The U.S. Department of Transportation oversees all freight transport in the country, including containers. When shipping overseas, The Federal Maritime Commission regulates all U.S. imports, exports, and international ocean travel. Regulations for domestic transport differ from international container shipping, which plays a factor in costs.

Because there are so many factors that go into container shipping and transport rates, it's best to work with a professional company with experience in the industry.

Let's find out more about what influences shipping container transport rates.

Two containers being shipped on trailer
Container being loaded
William Thomas
Senior Logistics Manager
Contact William

Factors that Affect Domestic Container Shipping Rates

Domestic container transport means that you're transporting to any U.S. state. Whether it's a short distance, same-state transport, or a cross-country shipping container move, as long as it's within the United States, it's considered a domestic transport.

Several factors go into determining container shipping costs in the United States.

1. The Amount of Miles

The distance between the pickup and drop-off location helps determine the cost of transporting a container. The more miles, the more the transport cost. Shipping a container from one state to another, for example, will be more expensive than transporting a container to a nearby city within the same state.

2. Loading and Unloading Assistance

Before a shipping container transport begins, it needs to be loaded on a trailer using cranes. If you need a crane crew, the transport company will often find one. Crane and rigging crews are factored into the final shipping container transport quote.

3. Day Rates

If the distance is under 400 miles, the standard fee for container moving is time. For short distances under 400 miles, the price for moving a container is calculated by time. This is because it will take a driver almost an entire day. Therefore, you pay for their day instead of the low miles, even if it's just around the block. A day service rate usually costs between $800 USD and $1,200 USD.

Factors that Affect International Container Shipping Rates

1. Season/Time of the Year

International shipping container transport rates are highly influenced by the season. For example, the peak months to ship containers are January to February and August to September. Therefore, the cost of shipping a container within this period will be higher than the rest of the year.

2. Route

Shipping routes factor into international container transport rates. Popular routes tend to cost less than those less traveled. Shanghai to Los Angeles is one of the most popular shipping container transport routes. It costs less because of the volume of containers shipped.

3. Shipping Mode

There are two main modes to ship containers overseas. Shipping Air container shipping rates are almost five times higher than using the sea. It takes more resources and fees to fly a cargo plane than to transport containers by sea.

However, shipping a container by sea is much more common than air transport. A cargo ship can stack several containers and carry more simultaneously than a plane. Because sea transport is more common for container transport, it often costs less than air transport.

4. Weight/Size

The weight and dimensions of a shipping container play a role in determining the cost to transport. Weight is always a factor when shipping containers, whether by air or sea. Both planes and ships have a max weight they can transport. Each container must be weighed, and the heavier the cargo, the more expensive to transport.

Similarly, the dimensions matter. A larger container takes up more room. Each ship or plane has a limited amount of space. The more room the container takes up, the more expensive it is to transport.

Container shipping rates factors infographic

How to Safely Pack Freight or Cargo in a Shipping Container

Being strategic when packing freight or cargo in a shipping container is essential. Whether it's domestic or international container transport, securing freight safely. With uneven roads and tumultuous seas, cargo that isn't appropriately secured risks being damaged or destroyed. Here are a few tips for safely securing cargo in shipping containers.

1. Use pallets if possible. The use of pallets helps you maximize space and secure loose boxes stacked together. Choosing pallets that are the right size for your freight is essential.

2. Use moisture-resistant boxes and shipping containers. No one wants to receive freight damaged by water. Using moisture-resistant containers can help prevent this. You can also wrap certain freight to avoid water leaks, which we touch on below.

3. Distribute weight evenly. Loading items in a shipping container unevenly can cause cargo to shift during transport, resulting in damage. Stability is essential when it comes to any form of transportation.

4. Use shrinkwrapping. Shrinkwrapping helps protect delicate cargo because it tightly shrinks around the item. The shrinkwrap provides a barrier, protecting cargo from water, dirt, and more.

5. Use correct labeling guidelines. A correctly labeled shipping container should have port marks, gross and net weight, and a customer identification code. These are just a few labels. Others may vary depending on the type of shipment, shipping requirements, and destination.

Why is Shipping Container Transport So Expensive in 2023?

There's no question that the world has seen drastic changes over the last few years—including the shipping industry. Covid-19 had a severe impact on the economy and our way of life. Inflation has caused a rise in prices in almost all industries, including transport. Before Covid, shipping a container, whether domestic or overseas, was significantly lower than prices in 2023. Here are a few reasons why.

The Price of Fuel is a Contributing Factor to Container Transport Rate Increases

No one has been safe from the rise in gas prices. Fuel is necessary for transport, whether by truck, plane, or sea. Almost all modes of container transport require fuel to travel from point A to point B. So with the rising gas prices, the cost of shipping overall has also risen.

Supply Chain Issues Have Contributed To The Increase In Container Shipping Prices

The supply chain shortage has affected every state in the U.S. This also means consumer demand has skyrocketed. As we’ve seen over the past few years, the cost of doing business, such as transporting shipping containers, increases when the supply and demand balance is interrupted.

Port Congestion and Shipping Container Shortages Impact Transport Prices

Another rising issue is the rise in port congestion. Many shipping containers are stuck in ports, storage facilities, or vessels because goods and freight stopped moving. The imbalance of containers, labor shortages, and other factors all contribute to rising prices in container transport.

Two containers transported by semi truck.
Container being loaded with a crane.
William Thomas
Senior Logistics Manager
Contact William

Speak With Your Dedicated
Container Transport Specialist

So, How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Container Overseas?

As previously mentioned, the cost of shipping a container overseas depends on factors such as time of the year and volume of goods, among others.

Below we’ll give you an average estimate of how much it would cost to transport a fully loaded 20ft and 40ft container from the US (New York and Los Angeles), UK (London), Canada (Montreal and Vancouver), China (Shanghai) and Australia (Sydney) to some of the most popular ports across the world.

Please note that the estimated container shipping costs don’t include the fees of additional services such as professional packing/unpacking, loading/unloading, crane services (if delivering outside the port), door to door delivery.

These are purely estimated port-to-port container shipping costs.

International container shipping cost graphic

Container Shipping Rates from the US (New York)

Destination Port 20 FT Average Cost (USD) 40 FT Average Cost (USD)
London, UK $ 1,468.00 $ 1,869.00
Tokyo, JAP $ 2,009.00 $ 2,622.00
Sydney, AUS $ 2,693.00 $ 4,067.00
Melborne, AUS $ 2,693.00 $ 4,067.00
Auckland, NZ $ 2,829.00 $ 4,156.00
Montreal, CAN $ 983.00 $ 1,343.00
Vancouver, CAN $ 2,284.00 $ 3,166.00
Le Havre, FRA $ 1,367.00 $ 1,768.00
Barcelona, ESP $ 1,714.00 $ 2,429.00
Amsterdam, NLD $ 1,071.00 $ 1,423.00
Hamburg, GER $ 1,088.00 $ 1,574.00
Dublin, IRE $ 1,544.00 $ 1,964.00
Jebel Ali, UAE $ 1,540.00 $ 1,984.00
Genoa, ITA $ 1,514.00 $ 2,048.00
Lisbon, POR $ 1,583.00 $ 2,205.00
Stockholm, SWE $ 1,689.00 $ 2,212.00
Mumbai, IND $ 1,632.00 $ 1,963.00
Singapore, SIN $ 1,600.00 $ 1,997.00
Oslo, NOR $ 1,556.00 $ 2,103.00
Copenhagen, DEN $ 1,418.00 $ 1,957.00
Thessaloniki, GRE $ 1,897.00 $ 2,343.00
Manila, PHL $ 2,187.00 $ 2,794.00
Hong Kong, HKG $ 1,951.00 $ 2,743.00
Cape Town, SAF $ 2,602.00 $ 3,804.00
Shanghai, CHI $ 1,953.00 $ 2,450.00

Container Shipping Rates from the US (Los Angeles)

Destination Port 20 FT Average Cost (USD) 40 FT Average Cost (USD)
London, UK $ 1,978.00 $ 2,838.00
Tokyo, JAP $ 582.00 $ 828.00
Sydney, AUS $ 1,878.00 $ 3,050.00
Port Kelang, Malysia $ 857.00 $ 1,277.00
Auckland, NZ $ 1,711.00 $ 2,524.00
Montreal, CAN $ 884.00 $ 1,366.00
Vancouver, CAN $ 317.00 $ 403.00
Marseilles, FRA $ 1,647.00 $ 2,212.00
Barcelona, ESP $ 1,654.00 $ 2,117.00
Amsterdam, NLD $ 1,504.00 $ 2,014.00
Hamburg, GER $ 1,964.00 $ 2,424.00
Dublin, IRE $ 1,885.00 $ 2,613.00
Zayed, UAE $ 1,796.00 $ 2,527.00
Civitavecchia, ITA $ 1,953.00 $ 2,851.00
Lisbon, POR $ 2,268.00 $ 3,446.00
Stockholm, SWE $ 2,216.00 $ 3,338.00
Mumbai, IND $ 1,159.00 $ 1,627.00
Singapore, SIN $ 922.00 $ 1,462.00
Oslo, NOR $ 2,022.00 $ 3,150.00
Copenhagen, DEN $ 1,805.00 $ 2,731.00
Jakarta, IND $ 995.00 $ 1,452.00
Manila, PHL $ 733.00 $ 1,210.00
Hong Kong, HKG $ 531.00 $ 796.00
Cape Town, SAF $ 2,750.00 $ 4,182.00
Shanghai, CHI $ 451.00 $ 676.00

Container Shipping Rates from the UK (London)

Destination Port 20 FT Average Cost (USD) 40 FT Average Cost (USD)
New York, USA$2,346.00$3,793.00
Los Angeles, USA$3,326.00$4,446.00
Sydney, AUS$2,198.00$3,469.00
Melborne, AUS$2,198.00$3,769.00
Auckland, NZ$2,272.00$3,532.00
Montreal, CAN$2,864.00$3,861.00
Vancouver, CAN$3,021.00$4,131.00
Le Havre, FRA$905.00$1,404.00
Barcelona, ESP$1,497.00$1,995.00
Amsterdam, NLD$808.00$1,282.00
Hamburg, GER$644.00$816.00
Dublin, IRE$701.00$924.00
Jebel Ali, UAE$1,702.00$2,284.00
Genoa, ITA$1,334.00$1,775.00
Lisbon, POR$1,103.00$1,471.00
Stockholm, SWE$675.00$904.00
Mumbai, IND$1,918.00$2,447.00
Singapore, SIN$2,079.00$2,934.00
Limassol, CYP$1,136.00$1,608.00
Copenhagen, DEN$675.00$916.00
Thessaloniki, GRE$1,065.00$1,467.00
Manila, PHL$2,184.00$2,737.00
Hong Kong, HKG$2,195.00$2,708.00
Cape Town, SAF$1,841.00$2,912.00
Shanghai, CHI$1,926.00$2,386.00

Container Shipping Rates from Canada (Montreal)

Destination Port 20 FT Average Cost (USD) 40 FT Average Cost (USD)
London, UK $ 1,592.00 $ 2,044.00
Marseille, FRA $ 1,593.00 $ 2,039.00
Sydney, AUS $ 4,295.00 $ 5,569.00
Melborne, AUS $ 4,190.00 $ 5,431.00
Auckland, NZ $ 4,454.00 $ 5,724.00
NewYork, USA $ 1,402.00 $ 1,874.00
Los Angeles, USA $ 2,879.00 $ 3,420.00
Shanghai, CHI $ 2,649.00 $ 3,262.00
Barcelona, ESP $ 1,774.00 $ 2,331.00
Amsterdam, NLD $ 1,411.00 $ 1,876.00
Hamburg, GER $ 1,477.00 $ 1,884.00
Dublin, IRE $ 1,700.00 $ 2,257.00
Jebel Ali, UAE $ 3,440.00 $ 4,205.00
Genoa, ITA $ 1,870.00 $ 2,440.00
Limmasol, CYP $ 2,437.00 $ 2,932.00
Stockholm, SWE $ 1,854.00 $ 2,441.00
Mumbai, IND $ 2,815.00 $ 3,548.00
Singapore, SIN $ 2,943.00 $ 3,701.00
Oslo, NOR $ 1,661.00 $ 2,183.00
Bangkok, THA $ 3,080.00 $ 4,074.00
Thessaloniki, GRE $ 2,289.00 $ 3,007.00
Manila, PHL $ 2,645.00 $ 3,410.00
Hong Kong, HKG $ 2,390.00 $ 3,024.00
Cape Town, SAF $ 5,115.00 $ 6,928.00

Container Shipping Rates from Canada (Vancouver)

Destination Port 20 FT Average Cost (USD) 40 FT Average Cost (USD)
London, UK $ 2,651.00 $ 3,595.00
Tokyo, JAP $ 1,410.00 $ 1,574.00
Sydney, AUS $ 2,690.00 $ 3,898.00
Veracruz, MEX $ 1,347.00 $ 1,907.00
Auckland, NZ $ 3,283.00 $ 4,852.00
New York, US $ 2,002.00 $ 2,571.00
Los Angeles, US $ 1,037.00 $ 1,416.00
Marseilles, FRA $ 2,452.00 $ 3,597.00
Barcelona, ESP $ 2,461.00 $ 3,611.00
Amsterdam, NLD $ 2,110.00 $ 3,045.00
Hamburg, GER $ 2,385.00 $ 3,289.00
Dublin, IRE $ 2,709.00 $ 3,805.00
Zayed, UAE $ 2,804.00 $ 3,937.00
Bangkok, THA $ 1,565.00 $ 2,620.00
Lisbon, POR $ 2,942.00 $ 4,012.00
Stockholm, SWE $ 2,864.00 $ 4,000.00
Mumbai, IND $ 2,088.00 $ 2,945.00
Singapore, SIN $ 1,552.00 $ 2,024.00
Oslo, NOR $ 2,673.00 $ 3,718.00
Copenhagen, DEN $ 2,576.00 $ 3,596.00
Thessaloniki, GRE $ 3,160.00 $ 4,379.00
Manila, PHL $ 1,576.00 $ 2,211.00
Hong Kong, HKG $ 1,036.00 $ 1,498.00
Cape Town, SAF $ 4,011.00 $ 6,309.00
Shanghai, CHI $ 909.00 $ 1,412.00

Container Shipping Rates from Australia (Sydney)

Destination Port 20 FT Average Cost (USD) 40 FT Average Cost (USD)
London, UK $ 2,847.00 $ 4,085.00
Tokyo, JAP $ 1,018.00 $ 1,512.00
New York, USA $ 3,587.00 $ 4,898.00
Los Angeles, USA $ 2,407.00 $ 3,192.00
Auckland, NZ $ 1,058.00 $ 1,618.00
Montreal, CAN $ 4,073.00 $ 5,504.00
Vancouver, CAN $ 2,844.00 $ 3,747.00
Le Havre, FRA $ 2,130.00 $ 2,053.00
Barcelona, ESP $ 2,406.00 $ 2,656.00
Amsterdam, NLD $ 2,865.00 $ 4,102.00
Hamburg, GER $ 2,444.00 $ 3,616.00
Dublin, IRE $ 2,969.00 $ 4,368.00
Limassol, CYP $ 2,516.00 $ 3,167.00
Wellington, NZ $ 1,218.00 $ 1,598.00
Port Kelang, MYS $ 1,500.00 $ 1,701.00
Stockholm, SWE $ 2,480.00 $ 3,705.00
Mumbai, IND $ 1,396.00 $ 1,973.00
Singapore, SIN $ 1,057.00 $ 1,386.00
Oslo, NOR $ 2,874.00 $ 4,000.00
Copenhagen, DEN $ 2,805.00 $ 3,818.00
Thessaloniki, GRE $ 2,422.00 $ 3,460.00
Manila, PHL $ 1,193.00 $ 1,603.00
Hong Kong, HKG $ 1,078.00 $ 1,430.00
Cape Town, SAF $ 3,149.00 $ 4,689.00
Bangkok, THA $ 1,112.00 $ 1,469.00

Container Shipping Rates from China (Port of Shanghai)

Destination Port 20 FT Average Cost (USD) 40 FT Average Cost (USD)
London, UK $ 4,980.00 $ 8,963.00
Tokyo, JAP $ 1,987.00 $ 2,995.00
Sydney, AUS $ 2,059.00 $ 3,751.00
Port Kelang, Malysia $ 2,100.00 $ 3,572.00
Los Angeles, US $ 1,876.00 $ 3,976.00
Montreal, CAN $ 5,703.00 $ 6,741.00
Vancouver, CAN $ 3,732.00 $ 4,922.00
Marseilles, FRA $ 4,274.00 $ 7,759.00
Barcelona, ESP $ 4,184.00 $ 7,639.00
Amsterdam, NLD $ 4,019.00 $ 7,548.00
Hamburg, GER $ 4,197.00 $ 7,572.00
Dublin, IRE $ 4,211.00 $ 7,703.00
Zayed, UAE $ 2,098.00 $ 3,757.00
Civitavecchia, ITA $ 3,872.00 $ 7,597.00
Lisbon, POR $ 3,870.00 $ 7,543.00
Stockholm, SWE $ 3,752.00 $ 6,984.00
Mumbai, IND $ 1,872.00 $ 2,476.00
Singapore, SIN $ 1,293.00 $ 2,410.00
Oslo, NOR $ 3,742.00 $ 7,189.00
St. Petersburg, Russia $ 3,415.00 $ 5,420.00
Jakarta, IND $ 1,762.00 $ 2,863.00
Manila, PHL $ 2,189.00 $ 4,123.00
New York, US $ 3,496.00 $ 4,739.00
Cape Town, SAF $ 2,312.00 $ 4,319.00

Loading and Unloading Shipping Containers

Unless you have a crane crew at your container's pickup and drop-off location, you will need to hire one for efficient loading and unloading. If a rigging crew is required, you must pay an extra cost. In some cities, permits are needed, which also costs extra. Loading and unloading shipping containers are charged per hour, and a minimum number of hours is required.

Container on the back of a step deck trailer
Container being lifted onto trailer

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to transport a 20ft container?

The cost of shipping a 20ft container varies on several factors. The container weight, distance traveled, load assistance, and more are all considered. Speaking with a logistics agent from a reputable shipping container transport company will help you obtain the best rate.

How much does it cost to transport a 40ft container?

The cost of transporting a 40ft shipping container varies. The same factors for shipping a 20ft container apply to a 40ft container. Container weight, distance traveled, load assistance, and more. To obtain a competitive shipping container transport rate, speak with an experienced logistics agent.

How much does it cost to ship a container by rail?

Shipping a container by railway costs about $2.50 USD per mile. The base rate varies depending on the time of the year, among other factors. For example, from Long Beach to Chicago, it would cost about $5,200 USD for a distance of 2100 miles. From Long Beach to Newark/New York City, it would cost about $7,500 USD for a distance of 3000 miles.

Containers stacked on top of eachother illustration

How much does shipping a container from China to the USA cost?

The cost of shipping a container from China to the USA isn’t a standard rate. It varies depending on factors such as the size of the container, the volume of goods, and distance. For example, from the port of Shanghai, China, to Los Angeles, you will pay an average of $1876 USD for a 20ft standard shipping container and $ 3976 USD for a 40ft. It’s also influenced by whether you need door-to-door or port-to-port container shipping services. Refer to our container shipping rates graph to get a better estimate.

What is the maximum cargo weight for a shipping container?

Shipping containers have a maximum cargo weight. A 40ft standard container has a maximum cargo weight of about 58,000 lbs. A 20ft standard shipping container has a maximum cargo weight of about 62,000 lbs.

Yes, 20ft containers can hold more because they weigh less than a 40ft shipping container. The weight of an empty container is factored into the amount it can carry for maximum cargo weight. It’s also dependent on the restrictions or limitations of the shipping line, specific details of the shipments as well as the nature of the cargo.

What’s the cheapest way to transport a shipping container?

The cheapest way to transport a shipping container is during the low season. The best container shipping rates are from March to July and October to December.

However, several factors come into play to get an accurate shipping container rate, as we discussed before. Working with a container shipping expert is the best way to get an affordable and competitive rate. The expert container transport specialists at Heavy Haulers can ship your container locally or overseas and find the best rate.

Is it cheaper to ship more than one container?

The more shipping containers you transport, the more cost-effective it will be. The shipping company will transport in bulk so that they can process everything at once versus individually. In other words, you will pay less due to economies of scale.

Can I ship an empty container?

Yes. In 2020 alone, more than 660,000 empty containers were shipped to different parts of the world. This was twelve times more than in 2019. You can ship a container empty or loaded. Shipping an empty container usually costs less than a loaded container since it doesn't weigh as much.

Ready to Get Started?

We can haul your load no matter the size, length, width, height, weight or location! We have heavy trucking drivers in all states and cities available for your loads. We have more than ten years of experience towing oversized vehicles and equipment port to port and ground to port.

Heavy Haulers Resources

Servicing All 50 States
+ International

See All Our
Available Trailers

Meet The Heavy
Haulers Team

Pictures, Videos, Portfolio
See Our Drivers in Action.