Container freight companies are very competitive, so container shipping prices can vary considerably from one company to another. This is good news if you want to ship your household goods overseas as economically as possible. However, not all container shipping quotes are alike, so it behooves the consumer to have an understanding of how these rates are calculated and what services may or may not be included in an individual quote.
In 1961, the International Organization for Standardization (IOS) created the standard sizes and types of containers. The basic unit, called a "TEU" (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit), is the smallest container available. The most frequently shipped container is the "FEU" (Forty-foot Equivalent Unit) or "2 TEU." The reason why these sizes are strictly adhered to is so the units can be stacked neatly and securely in rows and on top of each other on a huge container vessel. The size and number of containers a customer is shipping partly decides container shipping prices, but there are many other considerations as well.
Household goods generally fit into either a 1 or 2 TEU container and normally it is a standard dry cargo container. Other types of specialty containers may be refrigerated units (called "reefers" in the industry) and others for hazardous goods, tall loads and other special needs. Depending on an individual customer's needs, the international container shipping company will probably suggest they either ship 20 ft container or, if they have a large 3-5 bedroom houseful of personal goods, they ship 40 ft container.
Container shipping prices begin to escalate after the size of the unit or units is determined. While there is little difference in price between a 1 TEU container and a 2 TEU container, there is a difference in the type of auxiliary services that can be offered. The smaller unit, which is suitable for the majority of 1 or 2 bedroom household goods, can be delivered to the doorstep and packed ("stuffed") onsite, while the larger unit must be stuffed at the port or a nearby port warehouse.
Each of these options has its cost advantages and disadvantages. There will be extra costs involved in transporting a 20 foot container to and from the home, but there will also be costs involved in leaving the goods at a warehouse for later stuffing and shipping of a 40 foot container. They are many ways to cut down on container shipping prices if the customer is willing to do some of the work them self.
You can opt for Full Service with either a 1 or 2 TEU load. If all you need to do is ship 20 ft container, it can be delivered to your doorstep and employees of the container freight company will arrive with all the cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, tape and other packing supplies they require to pack up your household goods. Naturally, this kind of service increases container shipping prices, but has its advantages. If you prefer, you can pack your belongings and stuff the container and save money in that way. While a 40 foot container cannot be delivered to your doorstep, Full or Partial services can be arranged for this as well.
When you get your container shipping quotes, get them all for the same services. In this way, you can do an accurate comparison. Should you wish to trim your container shipping prices by opting for less services, get comparative quotes once again and then pick the container freight company that offers the most service for the least cost.