What is TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit)?





Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit

A TEU or Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit is an exact unit used to measure cargo capacity for container ships and container terminals. To simplify, you must know the basics. 

  • There are two common international standardized container types- twenty and forty feet long.
  • A twenty-foot unit is externally measured at about 6 meters long.
  • A forty-foot unit is externally measured at 12 meters long, which is clearly double the length of a twenty-foot container.
  • Depending on how many twenty-foot and how many forty-foot long the containers (or both combined) are present on board, the ship capacity will change.
  • To standardize a container ship’s capacity units, the number of containers a ship can load is translated into a number of containers of the smallest size, which in this case is twenty feet long.

When putting it into perspective, a forty-foot container is referred to as 2 TEU. 

How can I calculate TEUs? 

To calculate how many TEU a container is, you can just divide the length of your container (in feet) by 20. This will get you the TEU units, which will then allow you to calculate the cost of shipping for your containers.  

How can I calculate a TEU price? 

When quoting, shipping companies give calculations as per TEU. What you need to do is find out how much the shipping company charges per TEU, then after finding out this number, multiply it by however many TEU your shipment consists of.

To simplify, a 40-foot container (2TEU) is going to have double the price of a 20-foot container (1 TEU). 

What else is TEU used for? 

TEU is also used to decide the nominal capacity of container ships and container terminals, along with container transit in ports. 



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