Container Shipping Costs and Rates 2018

International container shipping costs can be a complex and daunting aspect of moving, but we are here to take the stress out of the planning!

Are you planning a big move abroad? And are you looking for the cost of shipping a container full of stuff overseas?

On this page we break down the many factors that determine container shipping costs, helping you find the cheapest prices on international container shipping, for you to make an easy and well-informed decision when you move.  

To start collecting quotes now, simply fill in our form. If you are looking for a more in-depth break down of the costs associated with moving abroad, such as insurance and storage to flights and pet relocation, then check out our guide on international moving costs 

Container shipping costs 

So, how much does it really cost to ship a container overseas?  

Based on popular journeys around the world from Australia, we have created some lovely tables that will give you an rough indication of how much container shipping costs. 

Shipping container to New Zealand:

Destination 20ft Container 40ft Container 
Auckland $505 – $565 $705 – $785 
Christchurch $520 – $575 $720 – $800 
Wellington $520 – $575 $520 – $800 

If you are planning on moving to New Zealand and want to know what you should do before you leave Australia, check out Moving to New Zealand article.  

Shipping container to Asia: 

Destination 20ft Container 40ft Container 
Bangladesh $2,850 – $3,160 $3,960 – $4,780 
Fiji $2,120 – $2,350 $2,945 – $3,260 
Hong Kong $970 – $1,075 $1,345 – $1,500 
India $2,415 – $2,675 $3,340 – $3,705 
Indonesia $1,130 – $1,255 $1,570 – $1740 
Japan $1,020 – $1,130 $1,415 – $1,570 
Philippines $1,060 – $1,175 $1,470 – $1,630 
Singapore $1,115 – $1,240 $1,545 – $1720 

Shipping container to Africa:

Destination 20ft Container 40ft Container 
Ghana  $3,980 – $4,410 $5,515 – $6,100 
Kenya $2,295 – $2,540 $3,180 – $3,520 
South Africa $3,535 – $3,915 $4,900 – $5,420 

 Shipping container to Europe:

Destination 20ft Container 40ft Container 
Denmark $3,040 – $3,365 $4,210 – $4,665 
France $2,985 – $3,300 $4,135 – 4,575 
Germany $3,130 – $3,460 $4,335 – $4,795 
Ireland $3,215 – $3,560 $4,455 – $4,925 
United Kingdom $3,125 – $3,460 $4,335 – $4,795 

 Shipping container to North America:

Destination 20ft Container 40ft Container 
Canada $3,045 – $3,370 $4,220 – $4,670 
United States $4,875 – $5,390 $6,750 – $7,465 

 For anyone planning on moving to either Canada or United States and want to know what you should do before you leave Australia, check out our informative moving guides!

Shipping container to South America:

Destination 20ft Container 40ft Container 
Argentina $4,470 – $4,945 $6,190 – $6,845 
Brazil $4,390 – $4,855 $6,080 – $6,725 
Chile $3,060 – $3,385 $4,240 – $4,690 

These shipping rates were sources from WorldFreightRates.com. These overseas cargo and freight costs are based on the port-to-port transportation of a full container load of household items worth $75,000. These amounts are based on the average value of the contents of a three-bedroom house in Australia, all being shipped from Sydney, NSW to major ports in each country listed. 

Please note: These container shipping cost estimates exclude services such as professional packing/unpacking, door-to-door delivery and insurance cover. Our moving partners will normally incorporate these services into their prices, so expect some discrepancies between the rates given here and any quotes you may receive. The table should be used as an indication only 

Shipping container sizes 

At the end of the day, even though there are about 16 different kinds of shipping containers, you only need to know two: the 20-foot and the 40-foot. The other sizes are generally used for business and industrial moves.  

What can fit in a 20ft container?

A 20ft container will hold around 30-35 cubic meters (m3) of stuff, which is typically the contents of a three-bedroom house or less. If cubic meters mean absolutely nothing to you, do not worry, there are other ways to visualise the size of a 20ft container. Imagine it’s around the same size of a single garage and can fit a combination of the following items: 

Container Shipping Costs

How much can I fit in a 40ft container?

A 40ft container will give you double the amount of space and it doesn’t usually come at twice the price. If you wish to bring a lot of stuff with you, a 40ft container is better value. Most houses with four (or more) bedrooms will need a 40ft container. A 40ft container typically contains around 65-67 cubic meters (m3) of space. If you want another visual aid, check out the image below: 

Container Shipping Costs

Shipping a car in a container

When it comes to shipping a car overseas, it will definitely fit within a 20ft container, however there won’t be much room for anything else. If you can’t leave your car behind and want to ship it along with your household goods, you will need to upgrade to a 40ft container.  

Full container load VS less than container load 

You may find that after packing up everything in your home, you realise that you don’t need an entire container to yourself. Typically, those moving the contents of a one-bedroom apartment, or just a few selected pieces of furniture fall into this category. In this case, you can share a container with several other customers. This is called a ‘less than container load’ (LCL) or a part/half container load shipment.  

Shipping half a container (LCL)

LCL container shipping costs half the price of a FCL shipment. LCL is the cheapest option if you are shipping small volumes. However, make sure you consider the loading and unloading that happens at each port. LCL shipments are moved around more often and as such put goods at a higher risk of getting damaged. 

As you can expect, if you are moving goods that have a greater volume, then you will need a whole container. This is called a ‘full container load’ (FCL) or sole-use shipment.  

Shipping a full container load (FCL)

When comparing the cost per cubic metre, you definitely get bang for your buck with an FCL. Shipping companies charge a flat rate to use the container, rather than charging you by the volume of your goods. It’s important to note that if you are shipping your car, FCL is the better option. 

If you have no idea what size container you will need, request quotes. If you jot down what you want to ship, the shipping company will help you from there. 

Five factors of container shipping costs 

There are five main factors that can affect your container shipping cost: 

1. The volume or weight of the goods: 

The volume and weight of your items are the most important factors when it comes to calculating your container shipping cost. When it comes to sea freight, the dimensions of your goods are more important, whereas if you are shipping your good via air, it’s the weight of your goods.  

2. The type of transport: 

The mode of transportation you choose will affect the both the price and the time it will take for everything to arrive. Will your goods be flying or sailing to their new home?  Air freight as you can imagine tends to be a quicker mode, but it is more expensive than sea freight. If you have time to spare, sea freight is then the option for you. 

3. The journey distance: 

This factor is pretty self-explanatory right? If you are shipping your stuff to the other side of the world, you can expect it to cost more than the boat trip to ship your stuff over the Tasman. You must also consider that the price will go up if you also have your belongings shipped from your old front door to your brand new one, as apposed to port-to-port.  

4. The destination port: 

Every country will charge customs duties and import taxes, they are unavoidable. Naturally, the arrival destination of your goods will determine how much you have to pay in customs and taxes.  

5. The time of year:

International shipping has peak seasons, just like any other industry. During peak seasons, there are more people moving and as such the cost of shipping a container is higher and the capacity is more limited. If you want to save on your container shipping costs, try avoiding summer periods. For Australia that is just after Chinese New Year (between January and February), and then again during the European summer (between August and September).  

Modes of transportation for container shipping

Choosing which mode of transport to use (if you have a choice) is a big factor that affects the container shipping cost. You have to ask yourself, what’s more important: getting your belongings to your new destination as quickly as possible or keeping costs down? 

Sea

Generally speaking, shipping a container by sea costs about five times less than shipping it by air. It is also known to be the most eco-friendly option. However, it is also a very popular option for shipping a container internationally. As you can imagine, that slows things down. In addition, the ocean is a big place, but a ship with thousands of steel containers can only travel so fast (about 23 mph). 

Air

If you are in a hurry, then shipping your stuff by plane is the faster option. It is also a great option if you are only shipping a few belongings. However, speed comes at a cost and its limitations (you can only bring so much with you).  

Land

If you are moving port-to-port then this option is irrelevant, after all Australia is an island…However, if you have chosen to have your belongings shipped from door-to-door, then you can expect that your belongings may end up in a truck or train at some point. It is by far the cheapest option, but it’s also the slowest. 

Other costs to consider

As you can imagine, there are more costs associated with your move. Once you know the volume and/or weight of your household items, the container size you need, whether it’s an FCL or LCL shipment and what kind of transportation is required, there are a few more costs to consider. Check out our guide to international moving costs 

What’s next? 

Hopefully this page has helped you navigate your way around container shipping costs. Your next step is to find the best price. There’s an easy way to do this. Simply fill in our form at the top of this page and up to 5 moving companies will get back to you with detailed quotes. If you’re having to choose between several moving companies, maybe read through Australia’s 2018 top 10 international removalists. We wish you all the best on your move!