Liftvans vs. Containers

There are two ways to ship your goods overseas:

Liftvans – Better for smaller shipments (generally under 850 cubic feet)
Containers – Better for larger shipments


Standard Liftvan Crate

A liftvan is a plywood crate built specifically for international shipments. A standard liftvan is approximately 200 cubic feet (87” high x 87”x long x 48” wide) though liftvans can be made to fit any sized shipment.


Rates for liftvan shipments are based mostly on the following:

  • 1. Where you live in the U.S.
  • 2. The weight and volume of your shipment
  • 3. Where you are moving to

Unless otherwise noted, our minimum shipment size is 100 cubic feet. Volume of your shipment, and therefore final charges, are determined based on the outside measurements of the liftvans.


If your shipment is large enough (generally over 650 cubic feet) it may be more cost effective to ship in a container. Containers are large metal boxes that are loaded onto steamships for international transit. They come in the following sizes:


Container Sizes

20' Dry Standard40' Dry Standard40' Hi-Cube
INNER DIMENSIONSLength: 5.97 meters 19'7"
Height: 2.26 meters 7'5"
Width: 2.34 meters 7'8”
Length:12.07 meters 39'7"
Height: 2.39 meters 7'10"
Width: 2.34 meters 7'8
Length:12.07 mtrs 39’7”
Height: 2.67 meters 8’10”
Width: 2.34 meters 7’8”
31.1 cbm; 1100 cft 62.3 cbm; 2200 cft 70.8 cbm; 2500 cft
DOOR OPENINGHeight: 2.159 meters 7'1"
Width: 2.34 meters 7'8"
Height: 2.29 meters 7'6"
Width: 2.34 meters 7'8"
Height: 2.59 meters 8’6”
Width: 2.34 meters 7”8”
OUTER DIMENSIONSLength: 6.096 meters 20'0"
Height: 2.438 meters 8'0"
Width: 2.438 meters 8'0”
Length:12.19 meters 40'0"
Height: 2.59 meters 8'6"
Width: 2.438 meters 8'0"
Length: 12.19 mtrs 40’0”
Height: 2.896 meters 9’6”
Width: 2.438 meters 8’0”
*cbm = cubic meter; cft = cubic feet

Rates for containers are usually quoted in flat amounts but also may vary based on the actual weight and volume of your shipment – It is important to clarify this at the time you receive your quote.

Advantages to choosing containers vs. liftvans are:

  • 1. The price per cubic foot will be less
  • 2. You will have more control over ports used
  • 3. Transit time will be quicker

The main disadvantage of containers is that of storage.  Since the steamship lines own the containers, we can not hold on to them for more than one week in either the US or at the destination port without incurring charges (approx. $100 – $150 per day).

You must be able to ship and receive your container right away.  If storage is required, you will need to let us know in advance so we can evaluate your best options.