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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. 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.

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Domestic and International Container Shipping Rates

Containers have become very common in our lives. You may be a business executive who needs to transport goods commercially or someone who has rented or owns a container office or even a container home.

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?

The cost of shipping a container overseas is different from transporting it within the country because they’re both influenced by different factors. Domestic container shipping rates are determined by the rules and regulations of the United States Department of Transportation.

On the other hand, international container shipping rates are determined by the customs regulations that influence transport to and from the port or airport as well as port-to-port or airport-to-airport.

Two containers being shipped on trailer
Container being loaded
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Factors that Affect Domestic Container Shipping Rates

Domestic container transport means that you’re only transporting it within the country. It could be state-to-state, business-to-business, or even a warehouse to your business and more. There are several factors that go into determining container shipping costs in the United States.

1. Ground Distance

The distance between the pickup and drop-off location helps determine the cost of transporting a container. The more the 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 don’t have loading assistance, a crane crew must be acquired. This is often something handled by the transport company you work with. This increases the container shipping rate. Rigging services may also be necessary. All of the manpower and equipment add to the cost of shipping container transport.

3. Day Rates

For short distances that are under 400 miles, the standard fee for moving a container is calculated by time. This is because it will take a driver almost an entire day. Therefore, you pay for his/her day instead of the small amount of 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, January to February and August to September is termed as the peak seasons. Therefore, the cost of shipping a container within this period will be higher than the rest of the year.

2. Route

The cost of shipping a container overseas is highly determined by the route used. Using a common route will cost you less. For example, shipping a container from Shanghai to Los Angeles is less costly because it’s used for transport quite often.

3. Shipping Type

International container shipping rates are highly dependent on whether you use air or sea. Air container shipping rates are almost five times higher than using the sea. This is because it takes much more resources and fees to fly a cargo plane than it does in transport containers by sea. In addition to that, shipping cargo by air is much quicker and more convenient.

4. Weight/Size

Depending on the type of container shipping method used, container shipping rates are highly influenced by weight and size. The cost of shipping a container by air is determined by the weight of your goods because the aircraft has a limit on how much it can carry during flight.

However, the cost of transporting a container by sea on the other hand is determined by the dimensions of your container since it has to be stored in a ship that has many other containers.

Container shipping rates factors infographic

How to Safely Pack Items or Goods in a Shipping Container

Packing goods for overseas shipping should be done carefully to ensure they’re delivered in the very condition they were packed in. Depending on the type of container you use, it’s important to be strategic about where everything is placed. Here are some tips to safely pack items in a shipping container.

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

2. Use moisture-resistant boxes and shipping containers. Receiving goods that are damaged by water is everyone's nightmare. Ensure that your items are tightly sealed to avoid water leakage from storms or rains.

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

4. Use shrink wrappings. This helps protect your delicate goods because they tightly shrink on the item and hold it in place protecting it from damage, moisture, and even dirt.

5. Use correct labeling guidelines. A correctly labeled shipping container should have port marks, gross and net weight, customer identification code among other labels. Mentioning specific items in a container is discouraged because it can encourage theft.

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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 costs 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 (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 your own crane at the pickup and drop-off location of your container, you will need to hire one for efficient loading and unloading. If a rigger person is needed, you will have to 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 or a 40ft container is highly dependent on the factors discussed earlier. Depending on the destination of a container, you will have to pay for all the charges incurred from the pickup location to the delivery of your 20’ shipping container.

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

The cost of transporting a 40ft shipping container varies from time to time. It’s influenced by the factors we’ve previously discussed. Depending on where you are shipping your 40ft container to and from, you’ll cater for all the charges until it’s delivered.

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

Shipping a container by railway costs about $2.50 USD per mile. This could vary 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 it cost to ship a container from China to the USA?

The cost of shipping a container from China to the USA isn’t a standard rate. This is because it varies depending on factors such as the size of the container, the volume of goods as well as distance. From the port of Shanghai, China to Los Angeles for example, 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.

How heavy can my shipping container be?

Shipping containers have a maximum cargo weight. Depending on the type and size of a container you’re using, ensure that you know the maximum weight of the cargo that can be loaded. For a 40ft standard container, for example, the maximum cargo weight is about 58,000 pounds and 62,000 pounds for the 20ft standard containers.

Yes, 20ft containers can hold more because they weigh less than a 40ft container. The weight of the container itself is factored into the overall 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 by doing it during the low season. March to July and October to December you get to pay a lower shipping cost as compared to the rest of the months.

In addition to that, using a professional container shipping company like Heavy Haulers will also save you some money. This is because they will give you an affordable all-inclusive shipping cost to get your container to or from the port.

Is it cheaper to ship more than one container?

The more shipping containers you transport, the more cost-effective it will be. This is because the shipping company will transport in bulk, so 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. This is cost-effective to the shipping companies because they’re not charged full price for pollution. You can also transport an empty container within the country.

If you have a warehouse full of goods, for example, you will have to hire a shipping company like Heavy Haulers to transport a loaded shipping container from the warehouse to the business. The next time you need to restock your business, you will have to hire them again to transport your empty container from the business to the warehouse where it will be loaded with goods and shipped back to your business.

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