How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Moving Container?

Dawn M. Smith
Written by Dawn M. Smith
Updated May 15, 2023
Family moving storage container
Photo: Ali Lanenga / Stocksy / Adobe Stock


  • The average cost of shipping a moving container in the U.S. is $3,000.

  • International shipping costs start at about $1,400 and can reach $6,900.  

  • Shipping costs break down by distance, home size, and container size.

  • You can save money on shipping costs by moving during the off-season or sharing a moving container.

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It’s no secret that moving is an expensive endeavor, so it’s natural to look for ways to save money on packing, moving, and shipping expenses. Moving containers (also known as portable storage containers) can be an affordable option to transport your belongings from point A to point B. 

To get started, check out multiple moving companies in your area and see if they offer portable containers. Then, use this handy cost guide to help you understand the price breakdown of shipping moving containers. 

What’s the Average Cost to Ship a Moving Container?

Storage container boxes outside packing
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There are many variables to consider when considering shipping a moving container, including whether you’re making an international move or a local or long-distance move. The weight of your cargo also affects your pricing, so you should only pack the essentials. Of course, the specific details of your move will ultimately determine the price, but these are average figures to reference. 


The average cost of shipping a moving container in the U.S. is $3,000, but your costs could vary depending on your household size and whether it's a local move or out of state. For reference, it costs about $2,000 to ship the contents of a small one-bedroom house or apartment. 


The costs of shipping a moving container overseas range widely, starting at about $1,400 and rising to nearly $6,900.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Moving Container Per Domestic Mile? 

If you break the costs down into domestic miles, you'll likely spend $2.50 per mile on average. Shorter moves are usually less expensive but have a higher per mile average. Here’s a breakdown of common shipping distances and their average costs per mile. 

MileageCost Per Mile
100 miles$16.50
475 miles$5.60
1,025 miles$3.10
1,750 miles$1.60
1,850 miles$2.10 
2,050 miles$1.70 

The Cost Breakdown of Moving a Shipping Container 

When breaking down the costs of moving a shipping container, you’ll have to take multiple factors into account. These are the most popular details professional shipping companies will discuss when discussing pricing: 

  • International or domestic shipping

  • Total move distance 

  • Size of the container 

  • Weight estimate 

  • Home size 

  • Moving dates

6 factors that affect shipping moving container costs, including container size and packed container’s weight
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Costs for Shipping a Moving Container by Home Size 

If you need to move an entire house, the moving container company will ask how many bedrooms worth of items you have to ship. These are the average costs for a container moving between 100 and 2,050 miles.

Home SizeAverage Cost
One bedroom$2,000
Two bedrooms$2,600
Three bedrooms$3,200
Four bedrooms$3,900
Five bedrooms$5,000

Costs for Shipping a Moving Container by Size 

Your costs will reflect the size of the container you choose and whether or not you ship a container across the country or the ocean.


You can expect to pay between $1.00 and $4.00 per mile for a domestic move that uses a typical moving container. Container companies like POD, U-Pack, U-Box, and 1-800-PACK-RAT have their own sizes. Standard container sizes include: 

  • 7 foot

  • 12 foot

  • 16 foot

  • 20 foot

  • 27 foot

Keep in mind that a 20-foot container has roughly 25 to 28 cubic meters of space, and it holds the boxed contents of a three-bedroom house.


Although there are many container sizes, most people use 20 and 40-foot containers for an international move. 

To get an idea of popular international routes and pricing, take a look at the average costs for service from Shanghai, China, to multiple cities in the U.S.  

Shipping to New York City

  • 20 foot: $15,000

  • 40 foot: $22,000

Shipping to Los Angeles 

  • 20 foot: $13,500

  • 40 foot: $18,500

How You Can Save Money When Shipping a Moving Container 

Here are a few suggestions to help you save money on moving container costs. Don’t be shy—ask the container company you’re working with for additional ideas. 

Purge Unused Items 

The number one piece of advice for saving money on moving is to purge as much as possible before your move to maximize space in your container. You don’t want to pay to transport items you don't love or use. 

Ship Your Container During the Off-Season

There are prime moving seasons in the U.S and abroad, typically during the summer months. You’ll likely pay more for high-season moving because fewer containers are available, especially internationally. If you have the option to move during the off-season, there may be room for negotiation with your shipping container company. However, saving money this way could be challenging due to the recent surges in container shipping costs.

Book a Less-Than-Container Load (LCL) 

If there’s a chance your items won’t fill an entire container, you might pay less for international shipping because you’ll share the container with other customers. Not all companies offer this service, and a less-than-container load (LCL) might not benefit you if full-container load (FCL) costs are similar. There’s more risk involved with an LCL because multiple employees handle your shipment to accommodate other customers’ deliveries.

Top Shipping Container Moving Companies

Ready to shop around for the right shipping container moving company? Check out these top-rated companies, and be sure to request price quotes from at least three before making a final decision.

  • PODS

  • UHaul

  • UPack

  • Zippy Shell

  • 1-800-PACK-RAT

Questions About Shipping a Moving Container 

There’s a lot to learn about moving, but you’ll need an extra dose of knowledge if you ship a moving container. 

Should I get more than one estimate before choosing a shipping company? 

You should research at least three moving companies near you and compare their prices and operations. Ask how they move their containers: A truck, crane, or both? For security reasons, you should talk to them about their employee hiring screening. Does the company hire temporary or permanent employees? Finally, if you need storage after the container is delivered, ask whether they bundle the price in the fee or if it’s extra.

Do I need shipping insurance? 

Yes, you need shipping insurance. Don’t hesitate; it’s worth the cost. There’s always a chance for accidents and errors when transporting household goods, so it's good to be prepared for various circumstances, including bad weather, loss, and disabled ships at sea. Some providers include insurance in their rental prices while others add it separately. It’s also a smart idea to check in with your renters or homeowners insurance provider and ask about coverage included in your policy. 

When do I pay for the moving container? 

When you submit your payment depends on the company’s policy and if you use the container for storage before and after the move. Some companies require a deposit, and others collect the fees on the day the container arrives at your home. 

What documents do I need to ship my container?

Of course, the paperwork involved with your shipment depends on whether you need an international or domestic shipment. In general, you’ll need a Bill of Lading and a packing list. Talk with your provider about the specifics of your move. 

Are there extra fees I should know about? 

You should ask your container company about fees attached to shipping, especially internationally. There’s a good chance you’ll pay for one or some of these fees:

  • Customs duties 

  • Container inspection

  • Inland delivery  

  • Quarantine fee

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