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15 Shipping Container Types
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15 Shipping Container Types

January 16, 2023
Last Updated:
July 23, 2023
5 min read

Wondering what types of shipping containers are available? ✔️Here's a complete list of the most common types of cargo containers.

15 Shipping Container Types

Table of Contents

Whether you need to transport goods domestically or internationally, shipping containers provide an efficient and cost-effective way to get your items from point A to point B.

However, with so many shipping container types available on the market, it can be difficult to know which one is right for your needs.

In this guide, we will explore the 15 different types of shipping containers and discuss their various features and uses.

Whether you ship a full container or less than container load, you'll be able to make an informed decision about which type of shipping container best suits your requirements.

15 Shipping Container Types

Shipping container types: dry storage, flat rack, open-top, tunnel, open-sided, refrigerated ISO, insulated or thermal, cargo storage roll, half-height, swap bodies, car carriers, drums, intermediate bulk shift, tanks, special purpose

Dry Storage Containers

Dry cargo containers are the most popular option among shippers. They are made from steel and feature four corner posts that support their walls and roof. They offer sturdy walls and lids to ensure that your items remain safe and secure during transit, as well as being able to withstand any bumps and jostles along the way. Additionally, they come with locking mechanisms so you can rest assured that only authorized personnel will be able to access your shipment while it is in transit.

Flat Rack Containers

Flat rack containers are open-top boxes with collapsible sides that give them added flexibility when loading items onto them such as heavy machinery or oversized items like cars or boats. They typically feature removable ends for easy access when loading/unloading goods from them. Flat rack containers do not have roofs which makes it easier to load taller items onto them if necessary.

Open-Top Containers

Open-top containers are similar to flat rack containers, but they feature a removable top panel instead of collapsible sides. They are ideal for shipping items that require full access such as construction materials, furniture, and other oversized goods. Open tops also feature removable tarpaulins which make it easier to load large items onto the container without having to worry about clearance issues due to their height limitations like you would with other types of shipping containers.

Tunnel Containers

Tunnel shipping containers, also known as double-door containers, are designed for shipping bulk items that need to remain in an enclosed environment. They feature large access doors at the ends of the containers with the ability to be opened from either side, making it easier for workers to move items quickly and efficiently between different locations. Since they can be opened from both ends, tunnel shipping containers are ideal for shipping goods requiring frequent loading and unloading.

Open-Sided Containers

Open-sided shipping containers feature two sets of doors on the side and the end of the container. The dual entry points offer increased flexibility when loading/unloading goods and make it easier to access those items that are located in the middle or back part of a container without needing to unload everything first. Open sided shipping containers are perfect for cargo that needs to be handled multiple times or has specific access requirements.

Refrigerated ISO Containers

Refrigerated ISO containers are specially designed for transporting perishable goods that require temperature control during transit. Also known as reefers, these insulated boxes come with cooling units installed inside them which can keep temperatures at a preset level for extended periods of time, ensuring that your cargo arrives at its destination in perfect condition.

Insulated or Thermal Containers

Insulated shipping containers are similar to reefers, but instead of being refrigerated they just provide additional insulation from the outside elements. They typically feature a combination of metal walls and insulation materials that make them suitable for shipping items that need to be kept at a specific temperature during transit. This type of container is popular among shippers of food, beverages, and other temperature-sensitive items.

Cargo Storage Roll Containers

Cargo storage roll containers are designed for shipping goods that need to be kept organized and secure during transit. They feature multiple compartments with adjustable dividers, providing a flexible shipping solution when shipping many items at once. Additionally, they come with lids and locking mechanisms so you can rest assured that your cargo will remain safe and secure during shipping. Cargo storage roll containers are perfect for shipping sets or stacks of materials that need to be kept secure and organized.

Half-Height Containers

As the name suggests, half-height containers are shipping containers that are half the height of a standard shipping container. They are specifically designed for shipping cargo that is smaller in volume, but heavier. Depending on what type of goods you’re transporting, half-height shipping containers can be further customized with extra features and accessories.

Swap Bodies Container

Swap bodies shipping containers are designed for shipping goods that are transported via road and rail. The sides of swap bodies can be either open or closed, depending on the needs of the customer. And while they do not have their own integrated chassis, they do have a system that allows them to be attached to any other compatible chassis (or vehicle).

Car Carriers

Car carriers are shipping containers that are designed for shipping vehicles. They come in various sizes and can be further customized with extra features and accessories such as ramps, tie-downs, and winches to ensure the safe shipping of cars. Car carriers are perfect for shipping cars, boats, or any other vehicle that needs to be shipped safely and securely.


Drums shipping containers are designed for shipping liquids and powders in small quantities. They come with lid closures and locking mechanisms so you can rest assured that your cargo will remain safe and secure during shipping. Additionally, drums shipping containers are available in different sizes, allowing you to choose the most suitable container size for your cargo.

Intermediate Bulk Shift Containers

Intermediate bulk shipping containers are designed for shipping liquids or powders in bulk. Their name comes from the fact that they're in-between tanks and drums in terms of capacity. Additionally, intermediate bulk shipping containers come with various safety features such as pressure relief valves, spill protection, and other measures to ensure the safe shipping of your cargo.

Tank Container

Tank shipping containers, also known as tanktainers, are designed for shipping liquids and other hazardous materials. They feature a special interior lining that is resistant to corrosion, making them suitable for transporting items such as chemicals, fuel, and other hazardous materials. Additionally, they come with protection from external elements like dust and dirt which helps to ensure the safety of your cargo. Tank shipping containers are also equipped with pressure relief valves to protect against sudden temperature and pressure changes.

Special-Purpose Containers

Special-purpose shipping containers are custom-designed for shipping items that require a specific shipping solution. These containers can be modified to fit your shipping needs and come with features such as special interior lining, shock absorbers, and other safety measures. Special-purpose shipping containers are perfect for shipping fragile items or hazardous materials that need extra protection during transit.

Choosing the Right Shipping Container

Shipping containers come in a variety of types, sizes, and specifications. Knowing the different shipping container types is essential for any business that ships goods around the world. However, being able to track them efficiently is equally as important.

At Cargoflip, we understand the importance and implications shipping containers can have on any business. We specialize in real-time container tracking so that our customers can have full visibility of their goods from the moment they are shipped to their delivery destination.

With access to our technology, your business will be able to maximize its efficiency while ensuring smooth global shipments every time.

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