What is FCL?

FCL stands for Full Container Load cargo and is a term used to refer to shipments with a full container load. The most common container options for household goods and personal effects are 20’, 40’ and 40’ Hi Cube. Container capacity and other details are explained in detail in a later section.

What are the common container sizes for household item shipments?

The most common container options for personal effects are 20′, 40′ and 40′ Hi Cube.






40′ Hi Cube

20’ Container

To give you an idea of how big a 20’ container is, it can hold 25 average size American refrigerators. A 20’ container can typically hold all items in a medium sized (2 bed room) apartment or house. That includes the typical amount of boxes used to hold all the various personal effects belonging to two adults and perhaps a child: a lot of books, clothes, dishes, pictures, pillows, rugs extra “stuff” already stored in cartons, and so on… let’s say, regarding all those miscellaneous cartons of personal effects, this could be / may be / might be… quite “liberally” estimated … to take up around 300-cubic feet. Since a standard 20-ft ocean container can hold over 1,050 – cubic feet of volume, this would mean there would still be a lot of room left over for furniture. Let’s say you want to include a “fair amount” of furniture: a living room set (approximately 300-cft), dining room set (150-cft), a bed room set (200-cft), misc. stored goods (100-cft). This equals approx. 750-cubic feet.

Combine about 750-cft of furniture with 300-cft of personal effects and this gives you a fully loaded 20-foot container.

The dimensions of a standard 20′ General Purpose container are as follows:-

Length: 5.919m Width: 2.340m Height: 2.380m

To calculate the volume in cbm you multiply them all together

5.919 x 2.340 x 2.380 = 32.96cbm

Practically though the usual maximum loading volume is around 28 cbm, depending on the size of the cartons you are sticking in it. You can hardly ever pack it right to the edge and the top.

40′ Container

A 40’ container can hold larger (3-4) bedroom household items. In addition to the above you can ship a second pair of couches, bed room set, large appliances, barbecue grill and an additional 50 – 75 boxes.

The dimensions of a standard 40′ General Purpose container are as follows:-

Length: 12.051m Width: 2.340m Height: 2.380m (12.051 x 2.340 x 2.380 = 67.11cbm)

Same applies when loading as with a 20′, drop roughly 5 cbm to be safe with your capacity if you are planning a shipment.

40′ Hi Cube Container

The length and width of a 40’ Hi Cube container are similar to a 40’ Standard but you get an extra 1 feet in height. This translates to an additional 8 CBM of loading volume.

Container Dimensions

Nominal DimensionLengthWidthHeightCubic FeetCubic MeterCubic FeetCubic Meter
6.096 m2.438 m2.591 m
Internal19’4.25″7’8.625″7’10”1170 cft33.131 cbm1000 cft28 cbm
5.899 m2.353 m2.388 m
External40′8′8′ 6″
12.192 m2.438 m2.591 m
Internal39’5.375″7’8.625″7’10”2385 cft67.535 cbm2050 cft58 cbm
12.024 m2.353 m2.388 m
External40′ Hi Cube8′9′ 6″
12.192 m2.438 m2.896 m
Internal39′ 5.375″7′ 8.625″8′ 10″2690 cft76.172 cbm2350 cft66 cbm
12.024 m2.353 m2.692 m


  • Containers with the same external length may not have exactly the same internal length and width.
  • The Recommended Load Volume (RLV) refers to the suggested maximum cube to use in calculating a full container load.
  • The RLV can be about 10-15% less than the container capacity, depending on the export pack dimensions.