Friday, June 21, 2024
shipping and freight resource services
HomeFreight ContainerWhen is a container considered as Over weight..??

When is a container considered as Over weight..??

image for container overweightWhen is a container considered as Over weight..??

  1. I need to understand when is a container considered as Over weight ?
  2. Will I incur additional surcharge because of this.
  3. As per standard info there are limits / max weight declared per each box type / size but I noticed for example that a 20GE has a limit of 30,000 pound but carriers charged me for overweight over 27 Tons.
  4. Why is that and what are those limits for OVER weight?

A good question from Abdel..

Abdel firstly, every container should have a valid safety approval plate called CSC (Container Safety Convention) plate in order for it to be used in international trade.. This is in accordance with the provisions of the International Convention on Safe Containers of 1972..

The role of this CSC plate is to confirm that the container has been inspected and found to be in a condition suitable for transportation on board the ship..

This plate has all the details of the Owners, Technical Data, and ACEP information.. ACEP being short for, Approved Continuous Examination Programme, in short every 30 months a container must be turned into a Container Depot for examination..

Also read about the post about the Anatomy of a Shipping Container.. 

This CSC plate also shows the gross weight as can be seen in an example below..

image for CSC plate

Using above plate as an example, a container that has been loaded more than the allowed weight – in this case 32,500 kgs including the tare weight of the container, will be considered as OVER WEIGHT..

It is therefore imperative that the packing warehouse/depot check this CSC plate upon the arrival of the container and ensure that they do not exceed the Maximum Gross Weight mentioned on the plate..

Most container shipping lines have containers that have different weight capacities because not all cargoes are heavy.. Therefore if the shipper is aware that his cargo is going to be heavy – say Minerals, Steel Coils or such similar types, they can always request the shipping line to release such “heavy tested” or “high payload” containers for packing such cargoes..

To answer your other questions Abdel, a 20GE container can carry way above the 30,000 pound weight limit you have mentioned.. It might be 30,000 kgs.. So in your case, you need to cross check what was the capacity of the container and maybe you exceeded the max gross weight..

Shipping lines are well within their rights to charge the client for any overweight container and also for any misdeclaration of weights.. As you might have read in this blog, misdeclaration of container weights is a serious issue affecting the ship and the trade..

It is the joint responsibility of the shipper, the packing warehouse, the transporter and the shipping line to ensure that the weight of the container does not exceed the maximum allowed limits in the interest of everyone’s safety..

Other readers with practical experience in having handled overweight containers, please share your experiences for the benefit of all..

Liked the content..??

Sign up below to receive the best and most reliable industry content for free from THE Definitive Online Resource for Shipping and Freight..




Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiar
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..


  1. Most of you have described the capacity of the container but not the limit on the road. In the USA a 40ft container limit is 12k front 34k middle and 34k rear. This is total truck+box+chassis. Cannot exceed 80k total and cannot exceed the the max on axle. Anything over in any axle is overweight or total is overweight

  2. Dear Readers,
    As I have experienced difference weight perception between shipper and shipping liner may as flws case :
    My block frozen shrimps product packaging spec as flws :
    1 master carton (outer carton) contains 6 inner carton, weight is 1.8 kg net/inner carton. So per master carton = 10.8 kg net weight. BUT average gross weight per inner carton = 2.7 kg ( shrimps + Ice ). SO gross weight per master carton become 16.2 kg. IF my buyer request about 25 tons of shrimps so I must load about 2314 master carton. But, How many Kgs of the gross weight??? Gross weight = 2314 master carton x 16.2 kg = 37,486.80 kgs !!!. 40 feet hi cube refrigerated container has Paylaod only 29,700 KGs, hence overweight 7786.80 KGs.
    Shipper thinks the weight only 25,000 Kgs, but shipping line say that the cargo is 37,486 Kgs. These matters sometimes arising difference perception for both party.
    The Shipper have to know very well the gross weight of their product before loaded.
    thank you

  3. There can be even overweigt charge (OWS) on specific tradelanes of an ocean carrier. For instance Asia-Europe OWS maybe set for 20′ over 20t incl tara. Usually USD 150.

  4. A few additional elements :

    1- containers can be weighed any time by local authorites (Port authorities, Customs officers, Police …).
    In case of weight excess on roads, especially in the USA, fees can be very high.
    Moreover, further investigations (paperwork … !) can be performed by these authorities (after weight examination), which can reveal other issues …

    2- payload on roads and rail may be different depending on the country. In case a SSLine or any rail operator performs an inland transportation, payload must be thoroughly checked.

    3- rail inland can involve a road transit / transfer at a rail hub (such as Chicago !). In this case, the road payload applies.

    4- containers with flexitanks (to transport liquids, such as wine, but not only) may be weighed at origin upon request, i.e. next to the loading point at origin : this is usually the request of clients at destination, sometimes of local authorities, e.g. in China.

    As a conclusion, beyond physical container capacity, one must check :
    – legal aspects
    – contract aspects

    All transport companies have standard limits re. container weights ; I advise therefore
    – to get a written confirmation from a SSLine salesperson or your Freight Forwarder at origin & at destination
    – to get a written confirmation from inland operator at origin & at destination (depending on the TOS)

    Kind regards to all.

  5. It is not only the weight of the cargo that is of concern, but that the weight is evenly distributed across the whole of the floor of the container. If a heavy weighted cargo is concentrated over a small area of the floor, it can still cause a problem with the floor damaging it causing the container to be a write off.

  6. It also depends on which country you are sending the container. For example, Greece has max payload of 23 tons, doesn’t matter if container plate shows 30 tons or whatever.

    • Hi Fabio, a very good point indeed, thanks..

      Yes of course one must always consider the max cargo weight allowed on the road per country.. USA for example has some strict policies as well in the type of chassis that has to be used for certain weights etc..

    • can somebody provide a link maybe to a webpage that lists max permissible weight per country??? that would be massively helpful.


    • Hello Paul, that would certainly be helpful, but I think the best bet at this stage is to check the Road Freight Association website of the required country to get this info.. I personally don’t think such a database exists..

  7. who measure the weight of the container LCL of FCL ? what is the proof of misdeclaration? How the weight are measure?

    • Kishan, that is the issue, no one is measuring it physically in a lot of the cases.. It is all based on the declaration made in the documents submitted to the shipping line for loading..


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



Sign up below to receive the best and most reliable industry content for free from THE Definitive Online Resource for Shipping and Freight..


FBX - Freight Indices