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How Many Pallets Fit in a 20ft Container?

31 May 2024

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Tips & Guides
pallets in front of shipping containers

Packing pallets into a shipping container securely and tightly is vital when ensuring the security and safety of your goods. But it’s also important for making the most of the space available. When loading a shipping container, you’ll need to know how many pallets you can fit so you can make sure your load isn’t too much for the space available. Likewise, you’ll want to ensure you’re maximising every centimetre of space in there. 

pallets inside shipping container

Here, we’ll discuss common pallet sizes you may come across and reveal how many of them you can fit into standard size shipping containers. We’ll also delve into how you can pack shipping containers to ensure you use the optimal amount of space.

20ft shipping container dimensions

A standard 20ft shipping container is one of the most frequently used container sizes in shipping goods worldwide due to its compact and convenient size. Also known as a Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU), this container’s dimensions are globally recognised, measuring approximately 20ft in length, 8ft in width, and 8.5ft in height. 

When loading or unloading goods, the doors of this size shipping container should also be considered. The typical measurements for a 20ft shipping container’s doors are 7.8ft in width and 7.5ft in height. No matter what you’re loading, whether it’s regular pallets or oversized items, understanding the dimensions of your shipping container and how to use them effectively is critical. 

Choosing the right palette size to fit in a 20ft container

When considering how you’re going to load goods into your 20ft shipping container, your pallet size is a key factor. You want to ensure you’re making the most of the space available, without overloading or pushing your goods over the weight limit. 

pallet sizes

You’ll need to measure and understand the stacked height and weight of your products to determine whether they will fit within the container’s capacity and weight limit. You should also consider the unloading capabilities and space constraints of the recipient when your goods reach their destination so you use the container space efficiently and ensure easier unloading. 

Here are some common pallet sizes you might like to consider when shipping your goods.

UK Standard pallet size

uk standard pallet

The UK Standard pallet dimensions are 1200mm x 1000mm (47.24 inches x 39.37 inches). This is the most commonly used pallet size in the UK and is often used for a variety of different types of goods in several different industries. While the pallet size remains the same, the weight limits can vary depending on the height of the goods you stack. 

Euro pallet size (EPAL or EUR Pallet)

For transporting goods internationally, you will likely come across the Euro pallet, also known as EPAL or EUR Pallet. The dimensions for this pallet are 800mm x 1200mm (31.50 inches x 47.24 inches) so slightly smaller than the UK Standard. These pallets are widely used across Europe, including in and around the UK. 

The reason for the smaller size of the Euro pallet is that originally, these pallets were designed to fit into trains and pass through standard-size doorways with ease. Today, they’re used across the continent and internationally, offering an excellent choice for multiple storage systems thanks to their measurements.

ISO pallet size

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) sets the international standards for dimensions and measurements. Businesses can choose to comply with ISO standards for manufacturing, transportation, and warehouse storage purposes, aiding them in regional and international goods movement. 

ISO standard pallets do not follow a single set of ISO dimensions, but several specifications are recognised by ISO. This includes six different sizes. The most common sizes found in the UK are ISO1: 1219mm x 1016mm (48 inches x 40 inches) which is akin to the UK Standard pallet, and ISO2: 1200mm x 800mm (47.24 inches x 31.50 inches) which is the same as the Euro pallet.

Half Euro pallet

The Half Euro pallet, also known as the mini pallet, is exactly what you think it would be – half the size of the Euro pallet. The dimensions of this pallet are 800mm x 600mm (31.50 inches x 23.62 inches), with a safe weight load of 500kg. This type of pallet is typically used for lighter loads that can be easily manoeuvered in and around tighter spaces, for example, food or pharmaceutical products. 

Quarter pallet

Quarter pallets can often be confusing, as there are two definitions. Quarter pallets can refer to the physical size of the pallet, in which case the dimensions for a quarter Euro pallet would be 600mm x 400mm (23.62 inches x 15.75 inches). 

However, quarter pallets can also be defined and determined by the height of the goods. For example, you would have a Standard UK pallet, but could only stack it 800mm high before it would be classed as oversized or shifted up to a half pallet size. Either way, quarter pallets are suitable for smaller, lightweight items and are often found in retail environments.

How many pallets can you fit in a 20ft container?

The number of pallets you can fit in a 20ft container will vary depending on the size of the pallet you are using, as well as other factors. You’ll also need to consider how you pack the pallets, what you’re loading, how you’re loading, and the total weight you’re loading. 

inside of 20ft shipping container

The most commonly used pallets are the UK Standard and Euro pallets, which are sized 1200mm x 1000mm and 800mm x 1200mm respectively. Other sizes you may come across are the Half Euro pallet and ISO pallets. 

Here are some average calculations for loading different-sized pallets into a standard 20ft shipping container.

Pallet TypeSizeNumber of PalletsConfiguration
UK Standard1200mm x 1000mm10Pallets can be loaded in two rows of five. However, with concise packing, it’s sometimes possible to fit 11
Euro800mm x 1200mm11Slightly smaller, these pallets can be loaded in one row of five and one of six
Half Euro800mm x 600mm30Three pallets can be loaded across the container width, with ten down the length
ISO11219mm x 1016mm10Loaded side by side, pallets can be situated in two rows of five
ISO2800mm x 1200mm11Like Euro pallets, this size can be loaded in one row of six and one of five

Want to know more about what can fit inside a 20ft shipping container? Read all about the different types of cargo that you can fit, as well as some surprising examples in our article What can you actually fit inside a 20ft shipping container?

How many pallets fit in a 40ft container?

It can be difficult to know which size container you should buy when storing and shipping goods. However, if you have a much larger load to store or transport, it could be worth considering a 40ft container. This could work out more cost-effectively if you have more goods than what will comfortably fit inside a 20ft container. 

Remember though, the actual number of pallets you can load into the container will vary depending on several factors, including the packing method, specific dimensions, weight limits, and what is being loaded.

Pallet TypeSizeNumber of PalletsConfiguration
UK Standard1200mm x 1000mm20Pallets can be loaded in two rows of ten, but this could be increased to 21 with concise packing
Euro800mm x 1200mm23-24When loading widthways, it’s possible to load 24 pallets
Half Euro800mm x 600mm60Three pallets can be loaded across the container width, with 20 down the length
ISO11219mm x 1016mm20Loaded side by side, pallets can be situated in two rows of ten
ISO2800mm x 1200mm23-24Like Euro pallets, careful and precise loading can ensure 24 pallets fit in the container

Packing your pallets for optimal container shipping

It’s one thing knowing how many pallets you can fit into a container, but ensuring you pack them correctly for optimal storage is essential. 

When packing your goods onto your pallets, you need to ensure that each one is packed securely, while also allowing you to load them into the container using all the available space. This is especially important in ocean freight shipping where pallets need to be packed tightly into the shipping container so they don’t shift in transit across rough seas.

Here are some top tips for packing pallets for optimal container shipping:

  • Cardboard boxes or cargo should not stick out beyond the pallet. This can create an impediment to pallet arrangement and could mean you’re unable to fit as many pallets into the container. 
  • Cargo should always be packed properly and tightly. If you stack goods improperly on your pallet, this could result in damage to the goods when pallets are handled or closely loaded into the container together.
  • Use cling wrap or plastic scraps to secure your goods. This is critical for pallet packing and helps to prevent damage or goods moving around in transit.
  • Consider the weight of your pallets. While loading as many pallets into a shipping container for secure shipping and optimal space management is usually key, for particularly heavy goods, you may need to load less onto your pallets. This ensures the overall weight isn’t over the container limit.

Summary

Whether you’re shipping using UK Standard pallets, the Euro pallet, or something else, knowing how many you can load into a 20ft or 40ft shipping container is vital. Likewise, ensuring you choose the right pallet size for your goods is vital too. It’s important that you carefully calculate the amount of goods you have so you can ensure they pack tightly onto your pallet for optimal container loading.

Now that you know what you can fit inside, you can relax without panicking at the dock when your goods need to be left behind!

FAQs

What is the maximum weight limit for a 20ft container?

Depending on the shipping line and container type, a 20ft container typically has a maximum gross weight of between 24,000kg and 28,000kg. This includes the weight of the container itself.

Can I mix different pallet sizes in one container?

It is possible to mix different pallet sizes in one container. However, this usually requires more meticulous planning to make the most of the space, while ensuring safe and stable loading. 

How does pallet orientation affect container capacity?

Pallet orientation will always impact the number of pallets you can fit into a shipping container. When planning a shipment, you need to plan the layout of your containers for maximum space utilisation, ensuring you also pack them properly to avoid stacking problems.

Are there restrictions on the type of goods I can load in a 20ft container?

Certain goods are restricted or will need special handling when using a 20ft container, for example, hazardous materials, illegal goods etc. You will need to check with your shipping company and comply with international shipping regulations for any goods you plan to transport.

If you’re looking to buy a shipping container, either for storage or transportation, we have a large range of shipping containers available. And for those who want a little less commitment and a little more cost efficiency, we have plenty of shipping containers available for hire too.

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