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How Much Are Shipping Containers? Shipping Container Costs Explained

22 October 2023

Category: 

Tips & GuidesConversions
shipping containers on a lot

Shipping container costs can be confusing to understand due to all the different container sizes, conversion costs, and the cost for any specialised containers you might need. There are also a whole bunch of factors that impact the price of a given shipping container, such as size, age, and condition, among others. 

Read on and learn everything you need to know about how the above factors can impact the price of your shipping container, and more. 

How Much Is a Shipping Container?

In general, rising inflation rates have increased the pressure on container shipping (due to increased costs). While increased shipping costs might seem to indicate containers should be more expensive, fewer people and businesses are opting to use them – thus lowering prices.

Used containers can range between £700 and £4000 – but generally speaking, prices for used containers are falling globally. This is down to basic economics as there are many more containers currently available and this, in turn, lowers their prices. 

However, it’s important to note that prices haven’t fallen as much in the UK – as being a small island, we still utilise a lot of our shipping containers for nearly all international commerce. 

There are a range of options when it comes to shipping containers, but generally speaking, different sizes are a key factor when looking at pricing. 

8ft & 10ft Shipping container prices

The average price range for new 8ft shipping containers is between £2,000 to £3,000, and used 8 ft shipping containers will hover around £1,600 to £2,500

External 8ft Container

The average price range for a new 10ft shipping container is between £3,200 to £4,000, and a used 10ft container will be around £1,700 to £3,600

10ft shipping container

It’s important to note that 8ft and 10ft shipping containers are not standard sizes, which means they can be expensive when compared to larger sizes (especially the 10ft containers). 

20ft Shipping container prices

The average price for a new 20ft shipping container can vary between £2,700 £10,800, and a used 20ft container can cost you anywhere between £1,350£5,100. The significant variation in prices depends on whether you are looking to buy a standard size container or need extra options, such as full side access, double doors, high cube or specialised COSHH chemical store containers.

20ft shipping container

The 20ft shipping container is the most commonly used international size, due to its blend of lightweight structure and holding capacity. Generally speaking, they are much more readily available and this is reflected in the price. 

You’re likely to find some 20ft containers can even be cheaper than 10ft containers for this reason. 

30ft Shipping container prices

The average price range for new 30ft shipping containers is generally between £4,600£5,100. Used 30ft shipping containers on the other hand tend to have lower costs and can range between £2,900 and £4,400

This container size is quite popular for storage, but less popular for shipping, which is important to note as there’s likely to be less wear and tear from transportation in the case you’re buying a used container. This also means the unit is likely to be in better condition, which can often reflect in the price. 

As a common method of creating a 30ft container is simply cutting down a 40ft unit, be aware that this can increase the price which is effectively paying more for less. It might be more cost-effective to purchase a 40ft container if you have the space.

40ft Shipping container prices

The average cost of a new 40ft shipping container can run anywhere between £4,700£15,600 with a used 40ft container costing around £1,700

40ft shipping container

The main advantage of 40ft shipping containers is that they’re considered the standard size along with the 20ft. This means that they’re more readily available on the market which impacts the lower cost. 

The 40ft shipping containers are considered the most cost-effective option – as they are often slightly more expensive than the 20ft containers but offer double the capacity. 

45ft Shipping container prices

The price of a new 45ft shipping container can begin at around £6,000, and a used one is likely to cost around £3,500 and up. 

45ft shipping container

Outside of drastically more expensive custom-size options, these are often the largest containers available. However, you will be paying a LOT more for that little extra space – this is not cost-effective at all unless you desperately need this extra 5 feet of room. 

Specialised shipping containers

There are also several different kinds of specialised shipping containers, all used for unique purposes, these include: 

Containers that don’t have a roof or any long walls – are often used to ship machinery and timber. 

flat rack shipping container

These containers usually have a tarpaulin instead of a roof – which allows them to be loaded from the top. 

open top shipping container

An open-side, or side door access container has a lockable door on one end, similar to a standard container, but also has a folding door on one of the long sides. 

side door access shipping container

A tunnel shipping container has double end doors, meaning doors are located at both ends of the container. This design allows for easy loading and unloading from both sides, improving accessibility to the container. 

tunnel container

A side curtain shipping container is a type of container equipped with curtains on one or both long sides. Instead of the traditional steel sides, these containers have durable, weather-resistant curtains that can be drawn back.

side curtain shipping container
  • Custom sizes

In some cases, you might need a container that is bigger or smaller than what is usually available. These are referred to as custom sizes and they are likely to be a little more expensive than standard-sized containers, due to the extra modifications needed. 

The prices for each of these specialised shipping containers can vary widely depending on whether they are new or used, as well as based on the different specifications of the container such as the preferred colour, insulation and any other additional customisations.

What Impacts the Price of a Shipping Container?

The information above is a rough gauge of what you can expect shipping containers to cost based on their sizes. 

However, to completely understand everything that affects the price of a container, and give you some idea of what you should look out for to make the most for your money, you will have to take into consideration that the price of a shipping container isn’t uniform; it varies based on several factors.

Let’s delve into the key elements that impact the price of these versatile steel boxes.

Size

Size is the major factor that determines price, it’s not as intuitive to understand because smaller containers can cost more than larger containers. 

Generally, 20ft containers and 40ft containers are the standard sizes used in shipping. This means that they are more available and are often the best value. The other sizes are less common or require modifications to extend or cut down the existing containers. 

This extra modification is included in the price, which is why you might see some very expensive 30ft containers alongside some relatively cheaper 40ft containers. 

Age

An older shipping container generally means that it’s second-hand. A second-hand container will always be cheaper than a new shipping container in a given size band. Freight and shipping containers generally last for around 25 years, but a well-maintained shipping container can last even up to 40 years. 

A shipping container towards the end of its lifespan will always be cheaper as the seller will want to get rid of it sooner rather than later. 

Condition

A container in poorer condition is always going to be cheaper than a brand-new container. A single-trip container will always cost more than a container that has some wear and tear. 

If you’re looking to buy a shipping container for conversions, you’ll generally want to purchase a container that’s in good condition, especially if you’re planning to convert it into a living area or for storing valuable equipment in it. 

However, shipping containers are built to last, and they’re built to handle the conditions of transporting cargo over the sea – these are not fragile containers. 

Delivery fees

Delivery fees vary depending on the size of the container you’re purchasing and this will also be reflected in the cost. 

For example, if four customers purchase a 10ft shipping container, then the costs of delivery can be split evenly among the four. However, if one customer purchases a 45ft container then this will take up all of the space on the lorry, which increases delivery costs. 

Rent vs. Purchase

When considering renting a shipping container vs outright buying one there’s only one thing you need to ask yourself – are you going to be using the shipping container over the long or short term? 

If you’re storing things for a limited time then renting may be the best option. 

If you intend to use a shipping container as storage over the long term purchasing it may save you money in the long term. 

If you’re planning to do conversions or turn the container into some kind of permanent installation for your business you’ll most likely need to purchase your own. A rental company will not allow you to modify their container. 

Which Size Shipping Container Do I Need?

The size you’ll need depends on what you plan to do with the container. But, in a nutshell, this is what most of the different sizes are used for: 

10ft containers are usually used by homeowners for either extra storage or as a shed. 

20ft containers can be used by both homeowners and businesses alike – they can be converted into storage facilities or offices. 

30ft containers are also typically used by both homeowners and businesses as larger storage options or converted into larger offices and outdoor installations. 

40ft + containers are often used by businesses for large-scale storage of machinery and equipment or to build large office spaces. 

If you’re interested in learning more about what the different sizes of shipping containers are used for, check out our article: Which Shipping Container Should You Buy?

How Much Does It Cost To Convert a Shipping Container?

The costs for converting a shipping container all depend on what you plan to convert it into. It’s cheaper to convert a smaller container into a shed, but converting a 45ft container into a living area will be much more expensive (most likely costing tens of thousands of pounds). 

This is all down to the work needed, such as segmenting the container into different rooms, installing a bathroom, which also includes plumbing, and installing the electrics, flooring, and furnishing. 

The cost of all of this depends on your expertise, or how much you’ll need to pay to get this work completed. 

For example, converting a shipping container into a home might cost well over £30,000 due to the need for external access to electricity and water, as well as any flooring, plumbing, insulation, and furnishing you may need. 

Converting 8ft or 10ft containers

Prices for shipping container conversions depend entirely upon what you’re doing, for example, converting an 8ft or 10ft container into an office could cost anywhere from £8,000 to £15,000 and upwards. 

Generally speaking, 8ft or 10ft containers tend to be used for projects like container bars or garden sheds. Prices will go up or down depending on how much work needs to be done and how much/what kind of equipment the conversion will be utilising.  

Using shipping containers for these purposes can be cheaper than buying the materials and building everything from scratch. 

Converting a 20ft container

20ft container conversions can also dramatically vary in price – for example, 20ft container office conversion can cost upwards of £15,000

As mentioned, prices for conversions depend entirely on what you’re using the container for. 

In some cases, people choose to convert a 20ft container into cafes, studios & retail spaces or use them creatively for modular buildings

The best thing about 20ft containers is that they’re more readily available and as such more popular for conversions. They can be more easily modified into whatever kind of conversion that you want. 

When it comes to cost, it all depends on what you’re using the container for. Converting a 20ft container into a space for guests to sit in your venue is going to be easier and cheaper than making a retail space, for example. 

Converting a 30ft container 

There’s a lot of scope for shipping container conversions for a 30ft container – they can be used like any other container but often find use as agricultural storage, stadium seating, and even as living spaces. 

stadium seating shipping container

Cost depends entirely upon how labour is needed to convert the container, as well as what equipment needs to be used. 

There’s no one price fits all for conversions, it’s going to depend on what you’re doing, but for the largest size container covered so far, you should expect to pay over £15,000£20,000

Converting a 40ft container

In many cases, 40ft shipping containers can be converted into living spaces or be used for practically any purpose you could think of. 

Costs will vary considerably depending on what you want to convert the container into. For example, an office space is likely to cost over £25,000, and a container home conversion will cost significantly more than that. 

The main benefit of using a 40ft container is that they are the most cost-effective option, being a little more expensive but offering some of the best total space. The other benefit is that it’s easier to segment this size into separate rooms, which is good if you’re looking for a living space conversion. 

Converting a 45ft container

Generally speaking, it is more expensive to do a conversion on a larger container and this applies especially to the 45ft containers. 

These are often not as readily available as 20ft and 40ft containers which reflect in the price, so you may be paying extra to do any conversion work on a 45ft. 

Prices are going to vary dramatically depending on what you’re doing with the container, you are likely to pay well over £30,000 even for more simple conversions. 

Conclusion

Now that you know everything there is to know about shipping container costs and how much you can expect to spend converting one, it’s time to start your search for the perfect container. 

Check out our wide range of shipping containers for sale and secure your ideal container today!

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