How To Move A Shipping Container


Container Transport

Shipping containers are everywhere. They are used for transporting goods all over the world, and they’re also one of the most popular options for storage solutions. But what if you need to move your shipping container? Whether it is across town or across the ocean, there is a process that needs to be followed in order to get it from point A to point B without causing any damage to contents, property or people. Below we’ll outline some of the ways in how this process works and provide some tips on how you can make sure everything goes smoothly and safely!

The shipping container is the backbone of our modern economy. It’s hard to imagine just how huge this system really is, and we’ve already covered the cost of shipping container transport here. Shipping containers are used 90% of the time in transporting goods around; it takes a lot more than that – expert logistics, careful planning, and experience – to have smooth sailing when transporting them all over the world quickly with efficiency!

How easy is it to move a container?

Shipping containers were invented to be moved easily. They were invented to carry goods around the world, safely and securely storing their contents, protecting them from the elements, and are made to be moved easily between different modes of transport. Shipping containers come in two main sizes; 40′ and 20′. Shipping containers are surprisingly heavy, even when they’re empty. For example, a regular 20ft container can weigh up to 2.2 metric tons and an empty 40ft shipping container can weight up to 4.2 metric tons! There are a couple of ways shipping containers can be moved easily for you – generally speaking this is with a forklift or a crane.

Can I Move A Container By Myself?

It is not recommended you try and move a shipping container by yourself without the right equipment, due to their weight even when empty. Get in touch with Highway Logistics if you want to move a shipping container safely.

Methods Of Moving A Shipping Container

If you don’t have a crane, there are a couple of options of how you can transport a shipping container:

Forklift Truck

A forklift can lift and transport a shipping container as long as it is the right kind of forklift. Unfortunately, regular-sized forks will break under the pressure of an empty container, because they are not designed to handle weight over their entire body like larger ones are. If you have an appropriate size and built for lifting heavy items then this may work – but make sure that your lift has been tested before using with a container!

Container Moving Using A Large Forklift

Tilted Bed Trailer

The most effective way to shift a shipping container without a crane or forklift is by using an angled bed trailer. You will need to ensure that there is enough space for it to back up straight into the shipping container, but either way you’ll want plenty of room on all sides with no objects blocking your path.

The process of picking up the shipping container is as follows:

  1. Back the trailer right up to the end of the shipping container and fully tilt the back.
  2. Using strong chains, attach the lower two corners nearest the trailer on the corner castings, to the trailer.
  3. Raise the end of the trailer, raising the attached end of the shipping container just enough to get some blocks underneath it.
  4. Slide a block of wood or something similar under each of the two raised corners, then lower the trailer to take the strain off the chains and remove them.
  5. Lower the trailer and back up underneath the shipping container until the trailer takes the weight off the blocks, then remove them.
  6. Continue to back the trailer up underneath the shipping container whilst levelling off the trailer.

It is important to remember that with this method, the shipping container will be tilted, meaning that its contents will not be kept level. And make sure that you securely fasten the shipping container into place before you drive off with it!

Standard Shipping Containers Transport

What kind of truck can move a container?

A standard container truck with a skeletal trailer will move your container, which can carry a combination of one 40′ container or two 20′ containers or a single 20′ container. You would be responsible for the off loading of on delivery. This is the cheapest method (per mile) to move a shipping container. This is also the best option if you are able to safely lift the container off the truck yourselves (if the container is to be left at the site) or if you can safely load the container whilst it sits on the back of the truck (in a few hours) before the container is then taken directly to a port or container terminal which is equipped to lift off the shipping container. Ordinarily the driver will wait with the truck whilst you load the container and they will drive direct to port (or final destination) once loaded.

HIAB Equipped: Move Shipping Container

HIAB crane equipped vehicle is used to deliver and lift off your container. These have a single crane arm. They are more expensive per mile to run that a truck without a crane attached but they are generally much cheaper than arranging a separate crane to to lift off your container. These HIAB trucks have a single delivery arm and typically want to deliver the container to either side of the truck, or to wherever suits your needs using the crane arm.

How far can a HIAB lift a shipping container?

The average HIAB cranes can lift up to 15 tonnes (up to 4m in reach) through to 3.2 tonnes at full reach (14 metres). They have full 360 degree movement to tackle all different types of work, easily moving containers.

Customer Collection

Our depots have equipment for lifting and lowering containers onto a truck. Your truck will require a standard skeletal frame cargo trailer or a flatbed. Your trailer must have industry standard twist locks and the vehicle must meet site safety standards. We recommend checking with the depot before pickup as the container is emptied and ready for collection.

Major Takeaways

What have we learned from this discussion?

  1. Containers can be moved easily with forklift trucks or cranes
  2. They can be transported easily by a regular truck with flat bed trailer or by HIAB truck
  3. It is not recommended you try and move a container by yourself without the right equipment for safety reasons, hire a professional service for container delivery


  1. Hi ,need two 40ft empty shipping containers sipped from L209PP to LN58LG as soon as possible , one can be on a flat bed if they come together so thr HIAB Artic tipp them both.

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