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TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit)

Explore the crucial role of TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) in shipping. Learn why it’s the standard unit for container capacity, how it fosters efficiency, and its impact on supply chain management.

What is a TEU?

TEU stands for Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit, which is the industry-standard measurement for containerized shipping. This measurement refers to the volume capacity of a 20-foot long shipping container, laying the groundwork for uniformity in the logistics and shipping sectors.

The Need for Standardization

The concept of the TEU is pivotal for establishing a consistent benchmark across various aspects of shipping, such as calculating shipping costs, planning cargo space, and managing port operations. With a standardized unit, all parties involved can communicate more effectively, reducing the chances for misunderstandings and errors.

TEU Dimensions

A TEU measures 20 feet in length, 8 feet in width, and 8.5 feet in height. Importantly, the TEU metric concentrates on the container’s volumetric capacity and not its weight. This is vital for calculating how much cargo a ship or port can handle and for determining freight rates.

Beyond TEU: Other Units

For containers larger than 20 feet, the industry often employs the term FEU, which stands for Forty-foot Equivalent Unit. One FEU is equivalent to two TEUs. This scalability ensures that container size descriptions remain harmonized throughout the industry.

TEU’s Role in Supply Chain Efficiency

The TEU provides a valuable point of reference in supply chain management. It enables shippers, freight forwarders, and logistics planners to accurately gauge the volume of cargo, facilitating better decision-making in terms of space utilization and shipping costs.


The concept of the TEU is instrumental in fostering operational efficiency and clarity across the shipping and logistics sectors. By offering a standardized unit of measure, it simplifies complex processes and enables better communication between all parties involved in the transport of goods.

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The world of logistics is complex and full of technical, financial, and business elements. The logistics experts at Phoenix International deliver top-quality freight forwarding service, supported by powerful technology and decades of experience. Contact us and let us know how we can help you!

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