Complete Delivery Guide

Congratulations on purchasing your shipping container!

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So, your shipping container delivery date has been set. This guide will cover the steps that you need to take to make sure that the delivery site is prepared and that your container can be delivered easily and safely.

shipping container delivery using tilt bed

Why Should I Prepare for My Shipping Container Delivery?

Since neither the container company nor the driver has access to the delivery site before the day of the shipping container delivery, it is the customer’s responsibility to ensure the delivery site is ready for the container. Failure to do so may result in unnecessary costs, damage, or disappointment. The customer must ensure there is enough space for the truck to make the delivery and to drive in and out of the property. They must ensure the ground is ready which means it should be hard, dry, level, and able to withstand the weight of the truck and container. They must inform the driver of any potentially risky roads leading up to the property. And finally, they must have someone on site ready to receive the delivery.

Extra costs incurred by not properly preparing your site may include but are not limited to driver wait times, if the driver takes longer than the allotted time, or towing fees if the driver gets stuck. Damage to driver’s or customer’s property. If the driver arrives to the destination but cannot drop the container due to insufficient space or no site contact to receive the container, it may result in a dry run fee. 

We provide our customer’s all the information necessary for a smooth delivery in order to avoid extra costs. We encourage our customers to prepare as much as possible and to bring up any questions or concerns in advance so we can make proper accommodations before we send the driver out to the delivery site.

Here are the steps you need to take to make sure you have enough space for the delivery to happen safely and to avoid unnecessary costs or disappointment.

After you decide on what size container you will acquire it’s important to decide two things, first, is the location large enough for the container itself as well as spacious enough for a large truck to maneuver in and out to make the delivery, and second, is the pad suitable for the container and the delivery.

“Do I have enough space?”

The best way to ensure you have enough space is to measure it with a tape measure. Don’t take any chances, make sure it will fit. Later in this guide you will find the shipping container delivery requirement that must be met. Height and width requirements are standard for any size container, but length requirements will depend on the size of container you acquire and the size of the delivery truck. Here is an idea of how much space the container itself may take.

A 20-foot container takes up approximately the same space as a large standard US parking bay.

A 40-foot container will be as big as two large parking bays placed head-to-tail.

45-foot container will be 2 and a quarter parking bays.

Expert Tip: The price per square foot of a 40-foot container is often less than that of a 20-foot container. So, if you have enough space, the 40 foot is a better deal.

“Is my pad right for a container?”

CONCRETE OR ASPHALT PAD – If you are placing your container on concrete or asphalt make sure the pad is level, large enough for your container, and accessible by a large truck. An unlevel pad will make it difficult to open and close container doors.

SOFT GROUND – If you are placing your container on “soft ground” such as dirt, grass, gravel, sand, etc. the ground must be level, hard, and dry capable of supporting the weight of the loaded truck which is approximately 30,000 pounds.

Expert Recommendation: When placing your container on soft ground, we recommend placing it on top of railroad ties, one at each end. This prevents the container from sinking into the ground over time which can cause erosion and difficulty in opening and closing the container doors. Watch our video “Shipping Container on Railroad Ties” here for helpful tips on how to prepare railroad ties.


Tilt bed trucks are the most frequently used type of vehicle for shipping container delivery. These trucks are ideal because no additional equipment is required to offload the container. The driver will back up into the spot, lower back end of the container then slowly drive away from it as the container slides off the truck and onto the pad. It is important to note that you will need room for the length of the truck, the truck trailer and the length of the container as shown below. TRUCK + TRAILER + CONTAINER.

sample of shipping container delivery using tilt bed truck

“How much length, width and height space do I need?”

Length: 40’ container requires 120’ for unloading. 20’ container requires 80’ for unloading. The space required is about three times the size of the container being delivered.

Expert Tip: If you do not have the required length, you can request a smaller truck. See information on truck types below.

Three times the length of the container being delivered is about the space required for delivery.

Height: 14’ high when container is sitting on the truck then increases to 21’ when unloading.

Entrance to Property: “How much space do I need for a truck to enter on my property?”

Ensure the street leading into your property is wide enough to accommodate the truck radius while turning onto your property. If there is a gate or fence or narrow driveway at the entrance of your property it must be at least 12’ wide and any overhead obstructions such as overhead wires, tree branches or structures must clear 14’. However, that alone does not guarantee that the truck has sufficient space to enter your property. Consider these things:

Culverts – are there culverts at your entrance that may inhibit the trucks back wheels from entering safely. An example would be uneven or soft ground that the trucks back wheels would be required to drive over.

Entrance Obstructions – is there anything at your entrance that would inhibit the trucks back wheels from entering onto your property. Examples of this would be; fence posts, underground utilities, pipes, planters, trees, mail box or concrete not able to withstand 30, 000 pounds.

Narrow street – is the street leading into your property wide enough for the trucks radius. Larger trucks will require a wider turn radius.

The trucks back wheels have a wider turn radius than the front wheels thus requiring extra turn space.

The larger the truck the larger turn radius it requires.

Trucks Used:

Our drivers use a variety of trucks to deliver. These are a few of the possibilities. Some trucks are longer and less maneuverable than others so if you have limited space be sure to request a smaller truck.

Roll-Bed or Flatbed Tow Truck
These trucks are typically used for 20-foot or smaller containers. They are used for locations where space is limited.

One Ton Dually w/ a Tilt-Bed Trailer
These trucks can deliver all-size containers. They are also more maneuverable.

Big Rig Trucks w/ Tilt-Bed Trailer
Big rigs deliver all sizes of containers. They tend to be less maneuverable and need sufficient space for shipping container delivery.
“Container doors towards the REAR or CAB?”

Once a container is delivered or loaded on a truck, it is difficult and costly to turn it around so it’s important the doors are facing the proper direction on the truck when it’s delivered. When considering where you’ll place the container, keep in mind which way you want the doors to face so that you can access it properly on your property.

Most used and new shipping containers have just one set of double doors at one end. We will need to know how you want your container loaded on the truck for delivery so the container doors face the direction you need when unloaded. Keep in mind the truck will back up into the delivery pad and drop the container to the ground.

“Doors to the Rear” means the double doors will face the rear of the truck, at the end of the trailer and will be the first thing that hits the ground when unloaded. If one end of your container will be butted up against a wall this is NOT the way you want to load the container.

“Doors to the Cab”  means the doors will face the cab of the truck and will be the last thing off the truck as the container slides off the truck. If one end of your container will face a wall this is how you want to load the container.

When considering your delivery, it is important not only to take into consideration the pad where the container will sit but also the entire pathway that the driver is required to take to make the delivery. Please consider the following:

Clear overhead obstructions – A loaded truck needs 14’ height clearance and increases to 21’ when being offloaded. It is important to clear any overhanging wires, branches, structures and to avoid low roofs or doorways so that the truck can easily pass through.

Clear pathway – clear out all items from your site that may obstruct the truck from easily delivering the container. This includes but not limited to equipment, vehicles, toys, trash, debris, rocks, plants, shrubs, holes, mounds of dirt, sand etc. Waiting to do this on day of delivery may result in driver wait fees.

Clear out vehicles – consider the day and time of day that your delivery will take place. For residential deliveries, if you anticipate any cars parked on the street that may inhibit delivery, plan to have them removed ahead of the delivery. For businesses, tape off any parking spaces near the delivery so the truck can easily deliver without any obstructions. Or consider setting your delivery on a certain day or time of day when there are less vehicles in the area.

Confirm the route to your site – Make the driver aware of any obstacles they may incur on route to your location such as but not limited to narrow bridges or roads, steep or curvy roads, unpaved or washed-out roads, low bridges or trees that they will be required to pass under or any roadblocks or closures that you are aware of. You may have to provide an alternate route if the driver deems it unsafe.

Confirm the ground is hard and dry

Stuck truck – Loaded tilt-bed trucks are very heavy, weighing close to 30,000 lbs. Therefore, it’s very important that the ground leading into the delivery site and at the delivery site is hard so that the truck does not get stuck. The customer is responsible for any cost incurred to get a truck unstuck.

Wet weather – if you anticipate wet weather on the day of the delivery it is best to reschedule in order to avoid potential problems. If it rains on the day of the delivery, then contact the container company or driver immediately to reschedule the delivery.

Level the ground ahead of delivery – The delivery site must be leveled before the driver arrives.


Difficult Doors – It is not unusual, especially with used equipment, that the container doors are difficult to open and close even if the site is level. This is easily remedied by shimming a corner of the shipping container which will adjust the door enough so the locking cams catch and close properly.

Purchase railroad ties
Railroad ties can be purchased at most home improvement stores.

Set railroad ties before the driver arrives
If your delivery site is dirt, we recommend keeping the container off the moist ground using 2 railroad ties — one at each end. This will prevent the C-channel and the cross members from rusting out.

The railroad ties should be set in place and leveled with no low corner before the driver arrives.

Assist with railroad ties during the delivery

Handling railroad ties will require two strong people. Make sure there are two people on- site to assist with railroad tie placement as some drivers cannot help due to liability reasons.

When the driver arrives, pull away 1 railroad tie so the driver can lower the container to the first railroad tie. The delivery driver will pull forward and before the container comes off the truck, place the second railroad tie in place.

Contact Information – The shipping container delivery company requires two contact phone numbers, and one must belong to the site contact. There is a possibility that the driver will postpone the delivery if they cannot reach the customer by phone before the delivery so it’s important to provide more than one number.

Gated or secured entrance – If the driver will be required to enter or check in at a specific gate you must provide pertinent information such as gate number, site contact, required I.D. or proof of insurance, and rules regarding weapons for high security or military locations. 

Site contact must be on the premises – We require the customer or a site contact to be onsite at the tie of the delivery to direct the placement of the container. If there is no person at the site to accept the container and the customer authorizes the driver to deliver the container anyway, Onsite Storage will not be responsible for any misplacement of the container.

Workers onsite – We recommend that you do not have workers on standby on the day of the delivery to load the container as delivery timing is uncertain and may result in loss of wages that Onsite Storage will not be responsible for.

Drivers right of refusal – The drivers will do their best to place the container in the desired location. It is the drivers right to refuse to place the container in a location where they feel it may cause harm to themselves or their property.

Cancelation policyOn-site Storage Solutions uses independent third-party trucking companies to deliver containers. Their livelihood is dependent on making their scheduled deliveries. They require a minimum of 48-hours of advanced notice for cancelations. If you need to cancel within less than 48 hours you will be charged a $300 cancelation fee per delivery. Cancelations due to weather are excluded. 

The key to a smooth shipping container delivery is preparation and communication. If you feel you are unable to meet these delivery requirements or have any questions it is best to contact your Onsite Storage Solutions agent to decide whether special accommodations will be necessary.

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