There is a weight limit when sending a small package, and this also applies to containers. While container weight limits are more complicated, they are also governed by a set of additional rules. This cargo container weight capacity guide will help you determine the different types of container weight limits as well as the various related rules.

Recommended Maximum Gross allowable Cargo Weights Capacity

20’ Dry on slider chassis: 39,200 lbs. 

20’ Dry on Tri axle slider chassis: 44,000 lbs.

20’ RF on slider chassis: 34,900 lbs. 

20’ RF on Tri axle slider chassis 39,700 lbs. 

40’ Dry on standard chassis 44,000 lbs. 

40’ Hi-cube on standard chassis 43,700 lbs. 

40’ RF on standard chassis 39,800 lbs. 

40’ RF Hi-cube on standard chassis 39,300 lbs. 

20’ Container Weight Limit: 62,150 lbs. 

40’ Container Weight limit: 59,200 lbs.

Where are containers currently being weighed in the US?

Some terminals use the carrier's EDI manifested weights for import containers. Import containers are not weighed at the out gate or when they are loaded onto the on-dock rail. It is the carrier's responsibility to ensure that the container is of legal weight before leaving the terminal.

Export containers should be scaled during the in-gate process, and the scaled weight should be recorded. The carrier's VGM (verified gross mass) takes precedence over the terminal scaled weight. All export containers arriving at the terminal by rail are weighed at the in-gate. Containers that do not have weight information are weighed prior to export.

Truckers can use scales provided on US highways, but these scales cannot be used as VGMs. The weight calculated may not be accurate and should only be used if a container is leaning or to verify the shipper's certified weight.

What are the fines or penalties for containers exceeding the container weight limit?

Overweight containers arriving at marine terminals may result in fines imposed by shipping lines. A clause in the service contract would be required if shipping lines decided to penalize shippers for overweight containers. These fines serve as a deterrent to shippers, forcing them to load legal weight as shipping lines will not tolerate overweight cargos.   

Local authorities may also levy fines and penalties if it is discovered that the container exceeds its container weight limit. If an accident occurs and it is discovered that the cause of the accident was due to the overloading of the container, the Shipper and Carrier(s) may be held liable to the parties harmed.

Why do you need to keep in mind the Weight Distribution?

Because shipping containers are stacked when traveling overseas, shifting contents can cause issues. When high-density packages are placed next to low-density packages, the contents can be damaged. You must ensure that the load is distributed evenly throughout the container, regardless of size.

How SFI can help 

Cargo container weight capacity is only a small part of the complex freight forwarding process. If you have been in search of an easier solution to move your goods from one place to another, SFI can help. With 9 years of experience in freight forwarding, we provide personalized and cost-effective services that best suit your shipping needs. If you want to get a quote now, feel free to contact us for more information.