Forty Foot Equivalent Unit The Ultimate FAQ Guide

Forty Foot Equivalent Unit: The Ultimate FAQ Guide

If you’re in import-export business, probably you have come across the term forty-foot Equivalent Unit (FEU).

Today’s guide will explore everything you need to know about forty-foot Equivalent Unit.

So, keep reading to learn more.

What Does FEU (Forty-foot Equivalent Unit) Mean In Shipping Terms?

FEU is an acronym for Forty-foot-Equivalent Unit, and it describes the measurements of a shipping container that is 40-foot long.

For instance, a single container measuring 40 ft would be equivalent to 1 FEU.

Same as having two containers measuring 20’ each, they would be equivalent to 1 FEU.


FEU (FORTY – FOOT Equivalent)

What Is The History Of FEU?

FEU was developed naturally due to the emergence of containerization, which Malcolm McLean first discovered.

Therefore, once you comprehend the history behind FEU, you will have understood how container shipping surfaced into existence.

Taking you back to how FEU began, Malcolm McLean was an entrepreneur mainly dealing with trucks.

It wasn’t long before he realized how tiresome and problematic loading and unloading cargo was. Without a doubt, it was.

Goods were being transported in whichever packaging, or they were at, be it barrels, crates, and sacks, to mention a few.

One day, Malcolm was at the docks. He thought about coming up with a better and much simpler way of transporting goods.

In that line of reasoning, the idea of making containers crossed his mind. He thought of transporting goods in containers that would use on ships and trucks.

As much as the containers were to be standard-sized, They would help minimize the loading and unloading of cargo frequently when transportation modes changed.

Thus, he embarked on his mission, decided to sell his trucking company, and then fully concentrated on building containers.

It didn’t take him long to make some containers, and afterward, all he needed was a shipping vessel.

Malcolm decided to buy a ship that went by the name Ideal X and customized it to accommodate all his 58 containers.

The first-ever ocean freight took place in April 1956 where the ship sailed to Houston from New Jersey.

However, Malcolm McLean’s containers measured 35 feet, which proved to be inefficient to ship in. Thus arose the need for more standardization.

In 1968, double ISO standardizations defined the dimensions, classification, and identification of containers.

When 40-foot and 20-foot containers emerged, the former came to be referred to as Forty-Foot Equivalent Unit (FEU).

What Are FEU Dimensions?

40ft containers are one of the most common types of containers used by most shippers. Normally, they have both interiors as well as exterior dimensions, which are not limited to;

  • Interior Dimensions (In feet); 39’6” long x 7’9” wide X 7’10” high
  • Usable Capacity 67.7 m3
  • Exterior Dimensions (In feet) 40’ long X 8’ wide X 8’6” high
  • Exterior Dimensions (in meters) 12.19m long X 2.44m wide X2.59m high
  • Internal Dimensions (in meters): 12.025m long X 2.352m wide X 2.393m high

FEU Dimensions

FEU Dimensions

Is There Difference Between FEU For General Purposes And High Cube Containers?

Yes, there is a considerable difference between FEU for General Purpose and High Cube Containers.

The major difference between these two lines is height.

General-purpose containers have a height of 2.6m (8’6″), while High Cube Containers have a height of 2.9m (8’6″).

While this might not seem like a huge difference, it does play an important role in shipping, specifically stacking.

Normally, you will find more High Cube Containers in the 40ft container market as General Purpose dominates in the 20ft container market.

The choice will depend on the importer’s or the exporter’s preferences.

What Are The Benefits Of Using 40ft Containers For Shipping?

Among the standard-sized containers, 40ft containers are considered to be the largest. Despite it not being as popular as the 20ft containers, it is very beneficial when transporting and storing goods.

Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of using 40ft containers for shipping;

  • Ample storage space – Being the largest standard-sized container, you have enough storage space for your goods.
  • Cost-effective – Shipping several goods using a 40ft container eliminates the need for shipping using several 20ft containers. In addition, it can accommodate a large volume of goods. So be sure to save on costs that would otherwise be used when using several containers.
  • Ability to transport more goods – A 40ft container cuts costs and the number of containers you will need to transport goods; they can accommodate more goods and therefore eliminate the need to pay for two smaller containers for shipping.
  • Protection of goods against theft – Owing to the tough build, 40ft containers are difficult to break into; thus, rest assured of your goods’ safety.
  • Protects goods against damage -These containers are designed to prevent air and water from accessing the contents of the container. IT is beneficial as some products easily go bad when exposed to such elements.
  • Ability to transport large goods -40ft containers make it easier transporting large cargo that could otherwise not fit into smaller containers.
  • Versatility – Apart from shipping, 40ft containers can serve several purposes, such as storage facilities.
  • Customizable – You can modify a 40ft container to meet your preferred size requirements.

How Is FEU Calculated?

To calculate the FEU of a container, you need first to understand how TEU is calculated.

A single forty-foot container is equivalent to two 20-foot containers (2TEU). To calculate the TEU, take the actual length in feet and divide it by twenty.

For instance, one TEU will be (20ft x 8ft x 8ft) while 2TEU will be (40ft x 8ft x 8ft), the same as 1 FEU.

FEU Calculations

FEU Calculations

How Many Pallets Can Fit Into A 40ft Container?

To start with, three different types of pallets can fit into a 40ft container;

  • Standard pallets (1000mm width x1200mm length) – These pallets are Mainly used by companies in Canada or the US, which explains why they are also referred to as North American Pallets.
  • EU pallets (800mm width x 1200mm length) and EUR2 pallets (1200 x1000)
    This kind of pallet is mostly used in the UK, Europe, and New Zealand. They are the most common types of pallets used by shippers.
    Each of these pallets has different maximum fittings into a 40ft container as listed below;
    Standard pallets -20 pallets
    EUR2 pallets -20 or 21 pallets
    EU pallets – 20 pallets

40 ft container pallets

40ft  Container Pallets

What Is The Maximum Load Per FEU?

The maximum load per FEU may be roughly from  30,480kgs to 67,200 lbs.

The maximum load varies depending on the type of container. Smaller containers will have a smaller load and vice versa

What Is The Difference Between TEU And FEU?



TEU and FEU differ in different aspects when it comes to shipping cargo. Some of these differences are not limited to;

  • TEU refers to a twenty-foot Equivalent Unit, while FEU is Forty-foot Equivalent Unit.
  • The maximum capacity of TEU is 28 cubic Meter while FEU has a maximum capacity of 58 Cubic meters.
  • The inner dimensions of FEU are 39’ 6.5” x 7’8” x 7’ 9.5” while TEU has 19’ 5” x 7’ 8” x 7’ 9.5”.
  • TEU can take up to 9 to 11 pallets, while FEU can hold 20-24 pallets.
  • TEU can hold smaller loads of goods as compared to FEU, which can hold twice as much.
  • The outer dimensions of TEU are 20’ x 8’ x 8’ while FEU has 40’ x 8’ x 8’.

How Many TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit) Is An FEU?

Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit measures the volume of 20-foot containers, thus the name “TEU.”

On the other hand, FEU is a measure for 40-foot containers making it twice as big as TEU. That said, 2 TEUs are equivalent to 1 FEU.

What Is FEU Reefer, And How Does It Work?

FEU Reefer is a refrigerated 40ft container that is used to ship controlled goods.

The goods used to be shipped; fruits and vegetables, meat, seafood, flowers, dairy, and pharmaceuticals.

Reefer containers are designed in a manner that they can preserve—items at the required temperatures, which might range between -30°C and +30°C.

Gensets (generator sets) dependent on fuel and electricity are used on reefers to bring about the cooling effect.

While goods are being transported, the temperatures are being indicated and logged by Data Loggers. Data loggers are equipment found inside a reefer unit.

The data collected can be downloaded and accessed via a personal computer.

TEUs are known to be the commonly used size for reefers globally.

What Are The Requirements For Loading An FEU Reefer?

Some of the requirements when loading FEU reefers are not limited to;

  • There should be adequate spacing (preferably 12cm) between the cargo and the roof of the FEU reefer.
  • You should leave enough space during the loading process to facilitate cool air circulation in the container.
  • Ensure that power is switched off while loading to prevent the ambient exchange of air.
  • The goods to be loaded in the FEU reefer need to be pre-cooled before being loaded into the reefer.
  • Reduce your reefers and goods’ exposure to open-air to keep them fresh.

What Is A CSC Plate In Container Shipping?

Like a vehicle’s number plate, the CSC plate describes the container and includes details as inspection date and the container’s gross weight.

Altogether with its payload, and design to mention a few.

This plate is fixed on all containers after inspection, and it confirms that the container is safe for transporting cargo.

If you may ask, an inspection of containers should happen once every 30 months, as stated by CSC 1972. An authorized inspector should do the inspection exercise.

How Much Does It Cost To Ship A 40ft Container?

As much as a 40 ft container is twice the size of a 20ft container, the charges are not doubled.

You are bound to spend only 20-25% more when shipping via a 40ft container than a 20foot container.

20-21 pallets can fit into a 40ft container, and the total capacity stands at 2,389 cu ft.

What Is The Role Of ISO Standard In Container Shipping?

In 1961 ISO standards were enacted to ensure that containers adhere to the required size and durability requirements. It was in a bid also to ensure safe and uniform stacking.

Shipping containers are inspected once every 30 months to confirm the conformity of the container to the required standards.

For instance, the ISO standard 668:2013 is for classification, dimensions, and the gross mass of containers under series 1.

On the other hand, ISO Standard 1496-1:2013 is for specifications and tests.

The ISO 1161:2016 is for corner and intermediary fittings, specifications for containers under series 1.

There are several types of ISO Containers which are not limited to;

  • Open top containers
  • Reefer containers
  • Dry freight or cube containers
  • Tank containers
  • Insulated or thermal containers
  • Flat racks and platforms

What Are FEU Shipping Container Marking Codes?

The main purpose of having marking codes on containers is to easily display the type, length, and height of the container.

It is composed of four characters: letters or digits displayed under the container identification sequence.

Each of the characters represents details of the container, for example;

  • First character represents the container’s length.
  • Second one represents the height.
  • Last two characters give details on the type of container as well as its characteristics.

What Is ACEP For FEU Shipping Containers?

Approved Continuous Examination Program refers to an inspection that is carried out on containers.

It is to ensure that they met the required safety standards for international shipping.

If the container is under ACEP, it should inspect after five years after the manufacturing date.

They should also check containers during repairs, renovations, or when the container is about to ship items.

The inspections are frequent, and this ensures that the container is always safe.

After every 30 months, the container is required to undergo inspection.

Luckily, frequent updates are done in the ACEP online database to remind the container owner about an upcoming inspection.

Renewal of the ACEP is done after every ten years.



What Is ISO Tank FEU Container And Dimensions?

ISO tanks FEU containers refer to 40ft containers that are designed based on the ISO Standards. Such tanks are used in the transportation of liquids and gases such as;

  • Water
  • Molasses
  • Liquid resins
  • Chemical/solvents
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Dairy products
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Oils
  • Sulphuric acid
  • Liquefied sugars

In as much as ISO tanks facilitate hazardous shipping products, additional requirements might be needed for you to execute the shipping process.

It’s worth knowing that once an ISO shipping container is designed to be used to transport dangerous materials. It cannot use in shipping food substances and vice versa.

Normally, there is an exterior structure that supports ISO containers and can be adjusted to match the container’s dimensions.

In addition to that, these types of tanks have an insulating material that protects them from the transported goods.

The dimensions of ISO tank FEU are as follows; 8ft (2.43m) wide, 8.5ft (2.59m) high, and 40ft (12.2m) length.

What Are The Considerations When Choosing FEU Vs. TEU Container Shipping?

Before choosing whether or not two use FEU or TEU, there are certain factors that you need to consider. Such factors include;

  • The purpose for the shipping container – You can use Shipping containers for storage and shipping purposes. Aside from these, you can as well use a shipping container to construct a house or office. Knowing the purpose your shipping container will play will help you decide which size suits you. The size you want the size of your container will determine your house or office.
  • Dimensions of your goods can ship anything via a shipping container regardless of the size or weight. However, if you want your cargo to fit appropriately, you need to consider the shipped’s size. FEU would be suitable when shipping or storing large-sized goods owing to the extra storage space available.
  • Packaging of the goods – If you are shipping your goods in pallets, the number of pallets to fit in FEU will differ from TEU. While FEU can accommodate 20-24 pallets, TEU can only hold 9-11 pallets. Therefore, if you are planning to ship several pallets, FEU would be the ideal choice.
  • Amount of goods to be shipped – In as much as FEU and TEU differ in terms of size, the cost associated with shipping using these two might not be far from similar. For instance, you might realize that just by adding 20-25% of TEU’s cost, you can ship your goods via 40ft container. Thus, shipping several goods will be economical when using a single 40ft container instead of two 20ft containers.
  • Your budget – Finally, your budget will play an important role in determining whether to use TEU or FEU. It comes without saying that you are bound to spend more when using FEU owing to the larger capacity that it can accommodate.

It’s also important to analyze how you will stack your goods into the container. It will help you know whether they will neatly fit into your container.

What Are The Delivery Options For FEU Cargo?

There are three main delivery options for FEU cargo which include truck, ship, and rail.

The choice will depend on the shipper’s preferences as well as the destination.

Delivering FEU cargo will be applicable with sea freight Globally.

In contrast, rail and truck options are ideal for delivery around the country or neighboring countries.

What Are The Rules And Regulations For FEU Cargo Ground And Rail Transportation?

Containers adhere to the ISO standards and other rules and regulations concerning the transportation of FEU cargo.

As we know by now, FEU cargo can only be transported on land via truck or rail or by sea via ship. That said, below are some of the rules and regulations that should be followed when transporting FEU cargo.

  • The weight of the container should not exceed 67,200 lb. It’s important to check with your local authorities regarding your container’s required weight, whether on the ground or sea.
  • The container should have passed through inspection and adhered to the ISO standards before being used to transport cargo internationally.
  • It should safely secure Hazardous cargo being transported via road or rail as per the ISO standards. In addition, the container should have a visible warning sign marked on it to create awareness about the contents being transported.
  • The container should have certifications such as ACEP and CSC to confirm its safety. The CSC certificate confirms that the container has been inspected and passed the safety tests conducted.

Keep in mind that the rules and regulations vary from one country to the other. Therefore, it will be essential to confirm with your local authorities about any other rules and regulations that should follow.

If you’re shipping from China, BanSar is here to handle all your logistics needs and requirements.

Contact us today for all your freight forwarding needs from China.

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