Container Shipping Prices (2022)

A Complete How-To Guide from Sirelo

If you’re moving abroad, then being well-versed in container shipping prices is crucial for budgeting efficiently and saving money on your move. Fortunately, you’ve landed on Sirelo. So, prepare yourself to become knowledgeable about shipping container prices in South Africa!

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How much does it cost to ship a container overseas?

Regardless of where you’re moving to, the first thing that likely came to mind was how much it would cost to ship your belongings. Since you’re moving overseas, let’s just jump into the cost of shipping a container from South Africa to various locations across the world, no point beating around the bush!

Container shipping sizes and prices from South Africa

Moving to20ft Container Cost40ft Container Cost
New ZealandR75,000-R81,000R115,000-R124,000

Disclaimer: These figures are merely estimates and only cover the shipping container price. Instead, the final number will be influenced by various factors, which we cover in more detail here.

Request shipping container quotes when moving for accurate prices!

If you want to know the full cost of your move quickly and not just the container shipping prices, then the best way to do so is to request free moving quotes!

You can personally request quotes from movers, which can take quite some time. However, if you just click below, Sirelo will receive up to 5 moving quotes for free from companies that can help you with your move today! Talk about making things quick and simple.

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Factors that affect the cost of shipping a container

As mentioned, shipping container prices vary with every move due to various factors. Learning about these variables is crucial if you want to save money on your move (who doesn’t?!).

📦 The volume of your move

Are you a hoarder? Or perhaps you prefer the minimalist lifestyle? Either way, it’s important to know that the volume of items you intend to ship will affect the container shipping prices. A container can only hold so much!

It is important to note, that if you are choosing to travel via sea freight, then the volume is more important, but if opting for air freight, the weight takes the reins, but more on the pros and cons of different modes of transport later. 😉

Calculate the volume of your move!
The trick to a smooth move is being prepared! One way to get ahead is to calculate the volume of your move. Volume is an important cost factor, and knowing yours could prompt you to trim the excess.
Click here!

🌍 The distance travelled

It should come as no surprise that travelling the 8,000 miles to the UK is going to cost more than going to Madagascar. Since you can’t change the distance to reduce your container shipping costs unless you have control over plate tectonics, it’s just an important factor to bear in mind.

However, there is one factor relating to the distance that you have control over, whether you choose a port-to-port delivery or a door-to-door service. This choice of loading and delivery option affects the final cost of your shipping container. The latter is more expensive but still vastly preferable – unless, of course, you are up for carrying a 40-foot container yourself?

🚢 Mode of transport

When it comes to container shipping prices, the mode of transport has an impact. When it comes to choosing the right mode of transport, it comes down to whether you want to save time or money. That is the ultimate question!

If time is a priority, then choosing to ship your container from South Africa via air freight is your best option. However, this does limit the volume, and weight of items you can feasibly ship, especially on a budget.

Do you want to keep the cost of your shipping container low? Then a boat is for you! Shipping by sea is by far the most popular mode of transport given the cost.

All in all, it really depends on whether you are concerned with the time your belongings will be in transit or if keeping the shipping container price lower is more important to you!

The port of departure and arrival

There are three ways in which the port you are arriving in affects your container shipping prices:

  1. It’s great to be unique, but not when it comes to container shipping prices! Popular routes are cheaper than obscure ones as competition lowers prices.
  2. Every port will have service charges for handling a container. These will differ from port to port, so make sure you know what you are expected to pay if you want to lower your container shipping prices.
  3. Custom duties and taxes on imported goods. Before you panic and start throwing everything away, most countries waive duties on household goods, which is a relief! Unfortunately, there’s a catch, you must own the items for 6 months or up to a year before import.

📅 The Time of Year of Your Move

As a general rule, however, in the summer demand is higher and capacity is lower, leading to surplus charges. Thus, an easy way to save on your container shipping prices is to avoid moving during peak season. So, if your move date is flexible, take advantage of this and move off-season.

Container Shipping Prices

Choosing the right mode of transport

It is time to delve into this topic a little deeper. As mentioned, your container shipping rates are partly determined by what mode of transport you choose. However, it’s not all about money! There are other pros and cons associated with different transport options, which are explored below:

Sea freight

This remains the most common option when it comes to shipping a container from South Africa. If you are completing an intercontinental move, and want to move all your furniture, this is likely to be your only option. Even so, it is important to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of sea freight container shipping to avoid any nasty surprises.


  • Can cover long distances.
  • Usually is the cheapest option.
  • More environmentally conscious than air travel.


  • Takes a long time for the container to arrive.


Air is a good option if you have packed light and are not too concerned about costs. Life is too short to sit around waiting for a container sometimes, so don’t rule this option out if you have the means to consider it or for the items you’ll need quickly.


  • It’s speedy! You will be reunited with your container in a matter of days 😎.


  • More than a little on the pricey side…
  • Bad option if you have a larger volume of possessions.
  • Not environmentally conscious.


It is inevitable that trucks will be a part of your move at some point. But just how much you want them to be involved is at your discretion. If you are moving within the continent, this can be a good option. While this is an option brushed aside by many, the cost of shipping a container from South Africa can be lowered with this method.


  • Logistically convenient as you can complete the entire move with one company.


  • Only possible if you are not crossing oceans.


Another option to consider is trains when you’re moving within Africa. While not often used, it is worth mentioning, nonetheless.


  • Often cheaper than shipping container costs via truck.


  • Can take quite some time.
  • Only possible for moves within the continent.

Shipping container sizes

If you remember, the table of container shipping prices had columns for 20ft and 40ft shipping containers. But how big are 20ft and 40ft containers? To help you navigate the world of container sizes, just keep reading!

20ft container

A 20ft is one of the two standard sizes for shipping a container. In terms of volume, it can hold a volume of less than 33m2. This makes it a good option when shipping a 2- or 3-bedroom house, depending on whether you’re a hoarder or not!

Container shipping prices - 20ft container

Size: 6.1m x 2.4m x 2.6m

Total volume: 1,179 ft3 (33.0 m³)

Total shipping load: 54,783 lbs (24,850 kg)

Is a 20ft container what you need? Then click below and receive moving quotes that included the cost of shipping a 20ft container!

40ft container

For those with a house larger than 3-bedroom, or who just happens to have a lot of furniture, then a 40 ft container might be the right fit. It can hold a volume of 76m2.

Size: 12.2m x 2.4m x 2.6m

Total volume: 2,714 ft3 (76.0 m³)

Total shipping load: 66,577 lbs (30,200 kg)

Wondering about a 40ft shipping container’s price? Then just click below and you can receive up to 5 moving quotes that include the cost of shipping a 40ft container!

Can you share a container?

Above we cover everything relating to Full Container Load (FLC). However, if a 20ft container is a little too big for your move, you’ll be glad to know that you can share a container and the shipping price!

The industry term for a shared container is Less Container Load (LCL), a useful term to know! With LCL, you use only a portion of a container and only pay for the space that you use, thus it’s a much more cost-effective way of moving your belongings overseas.

Be aware that it will only be worth it if you’ll be using less than half (<16m2) of the container. Also, you may have to wait a bit longer for your belongings to arrive as the removal company will wait to fill up to container with other people’s belongings before shipping it.

Loading and delivery options

We know this is a lot of information to take in but hang on in there – you’re smashing it! Loading and delivery options are another aspect of your container shipping prices.

The choices available are outlined below. However, they are only applicable for FCL.

  • Port to port: This is as basic as it gets. As the name suggests, the container is moved from port to port and you can fill the container at the port, with no help transporting them! If you think you can organise this yourself, we commend you…and you will save some precious pennies.
  • Drop and fills: A container is dropped at your house or predetermined location for you to load yourself. Just be sure you have enough space to house a container while you fill it!
  • Door to door: For the sane among us who prefer a stress-free lifestyle, this is the best option, even though it will increase your container shipping prices. As it sounds, the legwork is done for you here, the moving company will load and unload your container.

Bet you didn’t know there was so much to container shipping prices! Well, you learn something new every day.

Not sure how to go about finding the right moving company for you? Our list of the top ten international movers in South Africa is a great place to start your search!

Other international moving costs

Congratulations! You are now container shipping rate experts 🤓 Before you settle down for a well-deserved rest, we thought it was important to briefly mention the other factors affecting removal costs. The list is not exhaustive, but we hope it gets your brain ticking:

  • Insurance: You must, and we repeat must get your belongings insured when moving house. No matter how prepared you are, there is always room for error which can lead to catastrophic results.
  • Moving a car: Can’t bear to part from your four wheels? Factor in the cost of this alongside your container shipping prices.
  • Packing costs: If you are strapped for time you may want to pay extra for your removal company to help you. Want to DIY? Read our expert packing guide for tips!
  • Storage costs: For logistical reasons, you may have to pop a few bits in storage, which will incur extra charges.

What’s next?

We hope you found this page informative and that you have a better grasp of what container shipping prices entail. Before you go, consider exploring other parts of the Sirelo website to answer all your other moving-related queries.

Still feeling overwhelmed? Just remember: if we were meant to stay in one place, we would have roots instead of feet. Request quotes through Sirelo today to get started on your moving journey. Good luck with your move!