The only difference between a normal shipping container and a high cube one is, as the name suggests, its height. The length and width are usually the same but a high cube container is higher than the general-purpose one.

Other names of shipping containers are:

  • Sea Containers
  • Intermodal Container
  • Cargo Containers

After the shipping vessels that carry them, these containers are probably the second most important component of today’s shipping industry.

As one can expect, these containers are available in many shapes/sizes depending on what they are used to transport and/or how they are likely to be moved around.

Some of the common types of containers include:

  • Refrigerated Containers (Also called Reefers)
  • Open-side Containers
  • Open-top Containers
  • Bolster Containers
  • General Purpose Containers
  • Flat-rack Containers

Over ninety percent of the containers used in modern-day shipping are general purpose ones. High cube containers fall within the category of general purpose containers.

Let us first take a look at the features that are common in both the twenty foot and forty foot high cube containers.

  • Flooring is made of timbre
  • Windproof and waterproof double doors that are sealed
  • Constructed from good-quality steel
  • 270 degree opening of doors for better access
  • Lockbox for security purposes (Not always available by default on all containers)

Which is better – a standard container or a high cube container?

Let us take a look at the major differences between the two.


Standard Container:

  • Height 8 feet 6 inches (2,59m)
  • Width 8 feet
  • Door height 7.5 feet

High Cube Container:

  • Height 9 feet 6 inches (2,89m)
  • Width 8 feet
  • Door height 8.5 feet

The basic difference here is the height. In many scenarios, this extra height is extremely useful for companies.


Both types are available in sizes 10, 20, 40, and 45 feet. The 20 and 40-foot variants are most common.


  • Standard Container: 8000lbs (For the 40-foot variant)
  • High Cube Container: 8775lbs (For the 40-foot variant)

Even though it does look like high cube containers offer extra storage space, it is worth noting that the max gross weight for both of them is 67,200 lbs including shipping. Naturally, if you are only interested in the storage capacity and aren’t planning to use the container for shipment purposes, then this difference becomes irrelevant.


There is no significant difference, if any, in the composition of the containers.


You will have to manage the prices with the transport companies. However, most companies do not charge extra because the length and width of the containers are the same.

When to use a standard shipping container?

Standard shipping containers offer a lot of advantages as well as uses. The best thing about them is that they are multi-purpose and can be used for purposes other than those related to cross border shipments. You can use them as temporary storage at offices or as storage for your furniture when you move away and rent out your living space when you go on an extended vacation. In some cases, they may even be repurposed to function as a temporary living space or office.

At functions or events, you will often see them being used as indoor spaces, for instance, a sausage stall or even a restaurant. At weekend markets or Christmas markets, they are often used as temporary stalls. Other uses include workshop, exhibition stall, small shopping center etc.

When to use a high cube container?

Demurrage and detention charges for high cube containers could be higher than standard containers.

You can use a high cube container for almost all the purposes that you can use a normal one for. However, the height of these containers provides an added advantage. For instance, if you intend to convert a shipping container into a temporary living space or restaurant, you are much better off having a higher ceiling that the high cube container provides. This additional space can be used to install false ceilings, vents or any other alteration that makes it a comfortable living space. The extra volume also allows improved storage space for storing larger items like furniture and office equipment and machinery.

Other factors that determine which container you should buy are your budget and preference. You can consider using an old container. In fact, you can even rent containers from some suppliers for long term. At the end of the day, you should carefully consider your requirements and time-span of use. Keep in mind that a brand new container typically has a 30 year life span. A container can be a very good investment if the correct size container is procured or rented.

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