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Container Shipping Costs UK: [year] Rates and Information

That’s right, it’s everyone’s favourite dinner time discussion topic, UK container shipping costs! Look, we know it’s not the most interesting thing to research, but doing so could save you time and money. If you understand how the process works, you will feel more control over your move and maybe even avoid added unnecessary costs. It can be hard to know what size, style or service you need. So, we will break it down and walk you through it step-by-step.


Container Shipping Costs from the UK


Factors that Influence Container Shipping Costs


Different Modes of Transport for Shipping


Types of Shipping Container


Container Shipping Sizes


Loading and Delivery Options


Other International Moving Costs

Container Shipping Costs from the UK

How much does it cost to ship a container overseas?

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions. The cost of a shipping container will depend on the type of transportation you take, the volume of your move and the destination. However, below you can find some estimated container moving costs to various places around the globe.

These estimations are based on port-to-port, sea-based transportation for a household move valued at £38,000 from London, UK.

Container Shipping Costs to Europe:

Destination 20ft 40ft
Italy (Venice) £980-£1100 £1680-£1400
Spain (Barcelona) £800-£885 £1070-£1200
Sweden (Stockholm) £500-£550 £660-£730

Container Shipping Costs to North America:

Destination 20ft 40ft
U.S. (New York) £1800-£1970 £2400-£2600
Canada (Montreal) £1900-£2070 £2500-£2700
Mexico (Veracruz) £1500-£1650 £2000-£2240

Container Shipping Costs to Australasia:

Destination 20ft 40ft
NZ (Auckland) £1500-£1700 £2050-£2300
AUS (Sydney) £1340-£1490 £1770-£2000
AUS (Melbourne) £1300-£1500 £1800-£1950

Container Shipping Costs to Asia:

Destination 20ft 40ft
Hong Kong £1800-£1950 £2300-£2600
Indonesia (Jakarta) £770-£850 £1000-£1120
Japan (Tokyo) £1500-£1750 £2080-£2300

Container Shipping Costs to Africa:

Destination 20ft 40ft
Ghana (Tema) £1000-£1150 £1400-£1600
Kenya £2200-£2400 £2900-£3200
S. Africa (Cape Town) £1300-£1500 £1700-£2000

Container Shipping Costs to South America:

Destination 20ft 40ft
Venezuela (P. Cabello) £2100-£2300 £2700-£3100
Argentina (B.A.) £770-£870 £1050-£1160
Brazil (Rio) £770-£850 £990-£1150

For more information, feel free to check out the official website of World Freight Rates. Otherwise, read on to find out how these costs are broken down.

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Factors that Influence Container Shipping Costs

The two main factors that will influence container shipping rates are the volume and distance of the move. For example, a move from the UK to Europe will cost less than a move from the UK to the US. Removal companies will often request the volume of your move, so you can use our volume calculator to save time when requesting quotes.

Other factors that will influence the shipping container costs are:

  • Mode of transport (land, sea or air)
  • Time of your move (summer vs winter – summer is usually more expensive)
  • Type of container  (shared or not)
  • Departure and arrival port (more popular routes tend to cost less than rare ones)
  • Additional services (storage, assembling/disassembling, insurance)
  • Type of goods

container shipping costs

Different Modes of Transport for Shipping

How long does shipping take? What is the best way to ship your move?

The answers will vary depending on the different mode of transport chosen for shipping. There are three ways to move freight internationally: by land, by sea, and by air. In general, your shipment could take between a couple of days and a few weeks. Transporting freight (goods carried in bulk in containers) will normally be done at least partly by land and could indeed use all three methods! However, normally the best way of shipping is by sea, as although it is slow it is relatively cheap.

Land (Truck & Trains)

There are two types of land transportation used to ship containers: trucks and trains (via rail).


Virtually all moves will involve a truck at some point. Moves within the same country or continent will likely be done entirely by truck and by the same company. If you move overseas, then it is likely that there will be at least two moving companies involved that will coordinate between each other.

Speed: Trucks can drive as fast as roads allow, so you can expect the time to take between a few days and a couple of weeks depending on the distance.

Costs: Can be fairly high, but an unavoidable part of the shipping process.


Using trains to move shipping containers is also very common, as it can be more cost-effective than using a truck for long-distance moves, particularly across an entire continent.

Speed: Usually takes longer than trucks, but this depends on the origin and destination.

Cost: Normally costs less than trucks.

Sea Freight

Shipping by sea is one of the most common ways of moving goods and is what is most often meant by container shipping. Sea freight is the cheapest ways to transport your household internationally, but it is also one of the slowest methods. However, if you’re moving goods between continents, you normally have little choice but to use sea freight.

Speed: Slow – this will depend on the route travelled, but normally at least a few weeks.

Cost: Despite the long distances, it is normally good value for money

Air Freight

Transporting goods by air is the quickest but most expensive mode of shipping. A full household will rarely be moved in such a way due to the high costs, as it is often at least ten times as expensive as moving by sea. It is therefore advisable to only use air freight if you need a few of your items to arrive in your new county when you do, but it is more cost-effective to send most items by boat.

Speed: Very fast – only a few days.

Cost: 10 times more expensive than shipping by sea.

container shipping costs with all the containers

Types of Shipping Container

When it comes to choosing your shipping container, there are a few factors to take into consideration.

If you are transporting your goods by sea, then they will be loaded into a container and stored on a vessel for transit. You will then decide whether to fill a container with your own goods (FCL) or share a container (LCL).


LCL stands for ‘less than container load’. It is very flexible, is often delivered to your more conveniently, you only pay for what you ship and is therefore a more cost-effective way of transporting smaller volumes. However, it is also more expensive per cubic metre, often takes longer to arrive, and your goods will be handled more by others.


FCL stands for ‘full container load’, and it is used when you pay for the entire container rather than just using to use a part of it. There is a flat rate for the container and you have access to it in its entirety. Often FCL is quicker than LCL and is often cheaper per cubic metre, and it is only you and your supplier who touch your goods, which in turn reduces the chance of damage. However, your delivery options are restricted, you need to import a larger volume of stock, and the unloading is labour intensive.

So, which should you choose? The answer depends on the volume of your shipment and what will be more efficient for you. For a household move, you will normally use LCL, but you can always choose FCL if you have goods which are fragile or have special delivery requirements. Also, shipping companies tend to prefer FCL as it makes the logistics a lot simpler.

Container Shipping Sizes

What container sizes do I need?

Most often you will come across 20ft containers or 40ft containers. Occasionally you will find 10ft containers, but these tend to be rarely used when moving house. In general, a smaller move may only require a 20ft container, and a 4-bedroom household a 40ft one. However, any bigger than that and you may want to look into hiring more than one container to ship all of your goods.

Typical dimensions of a 20ft shipping container

A 20ft container can hold around 30-35 cubic metres and is normally suitable for a 1-2 bedroom move.

What can you fit in a 20 ft container

Size: 6.1m x 2.4m x 2.6m

Total volume: 33.1 m³

Total shipping load: 28,200 kg

Typical dimensions of a 40ft shipping container

A 40ft container can hold around 65-75 cubic metres and is normally suitable for a 4+ bedroom move. While a 40ft container has twice the volume of a 20ft container, it cannot carry twice the amount of cargo weight due to the weight of the container itself.

What can you fit in a 40 ft container

Size: 12.2m x 2.4m x 2.6m

Total volume: 67.5 m³

Total shipping load: 26,600 kg

Loading and Delivery Options

Another cost you will need to take into consideration are your loading and delivery options. These are often included in your removal company costs, but it is good to confirm your selection with your moving company/freight forwarder/ NVOCC (non-vessel operating common carrier). Still not sure what international removal company to go for? Maybe our list of top international movers will help.

(Note that while there is a lot of crossover with these terms, they are not all one and the same. For example, an NVOCC is an ocean carrier that does not have its own ships and tends to be the one responsible for the loads transported. Make sure you are well informed on all the differences between freight forwarders and NVOCCs. )

If you are planning an FCL move, then you may have up to three options:

  • Port to port: This is the most basic option and is what most rates are based on. You are responsible for getting your goods to the origin port and picking them up from the destination port to your new home.
  • Drop and fill: This is when the container is dropped off at your house, but you fill it up yourself. Alternatively, the shipping company can drop the container at your new house, and you are the one who then unloads it. You can choose whether to use local movers to unload your goods into your new home, but they will be separate from the shipping company.
  • Door to door: This is the most common choice when moving abroad, but also the most expensive. Your mover will have the container delivered to your house, they will pack it, they will move it to the port, they will ship it, it will be delivered to your new house and then unpacked. This is not only the easiest option, but also the recommended option for an LCL container.

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Other International Moving Costs

  • Shipping cars: Car shipping costs can vary tremendously depending on how quickly you need your car and which shipping method you use. If you’re shipping your car by sea via container, for example, it could cost only a couple of hundred pounds, but then could take over a month to arrive. You can read more on this page dedicated to vehicle shipping.
  • Insurance: Peace of mind when moving does come with a price tag. If you are shipping your entire home overseas, preparing for the worst and insuring everything is a smart decision to make.
  • Customs charges and taxes: Before you move abroad, check the regulations of your destination country regarding international moves so you know if you will have any taxes or duties imposed on the value of your goods.
  • Packing costs: Sometimes packing costs are unavoidable with certain moving companies as they must pack themselves for insurance and tax purposes. However, it is good to check his with your own moving company.
  • Storage costs: If you are moving with your career and therefore not certain to be moving abroad permanently, a cheaper option than shipping all of your furniture could be to look into storage costs in your home country. Check out our page on moving your house into storage for further information.

Prices can vary with container shipping costs

What Next?

We hope that you have found this page informative and that you know a bit more about which containers you may need and how much you should expect to budget for them. There are many variables that need to be considered before you decide what type of shipping method you will use. It is therefore important that you choose the right removal company that can help you decide what is best for you.

Also, you may find these other pages on Sirelo of interest to you:

We wish you the best of luck with booking your international shipping company!