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Chargeable & Volumetric Weight Calculator

Universal dimensional and chargeable weight calculator suitable for all shipments, modes, countries, and carriers.


Chargeable & Volumetric Weight Calculator

In the realm of freight shipping, it’s important to recognize that the weight for which you are charged may not always align with the actual physical weight of your goods. This divergence arises from the logistical constraints of vessels, which must consider both weight and space limitations. Consequently, goods that possess the same weight but occupy varying amounts of space cannot reasonably be charged at identical rates.

To ensure transparency and cost predictability in your shipping endeavors, we offer a convenient and complimentary universal chargeable and volumetric weight calculator. This tool empowers you to determine your goods’ chargeable weight accurately, taking into account both their actual weight and the volume of space they occupy. By doing so, you can prevent unwelcome surprises in the form of unexpected shipping fees.

Our calculator is designed to be versatile, accommodating a wide range of dim factors or volumetric ratios used by various freight carriers across different modes of transport and countries. Whether you are shipping by air, sea, or land, and regardless of which freight carrier you choose, our calculator provides a reliable means of calculating chargeable weight. It ensures that you are well-prepared to navigate the intricacies of freight shipping while making informed decisions that align with your budget and logistics needs.

How To Calculate Chargeable Weight

  • Input shipment volume and weight (lbs/kgs)When using the calculator, slide the switch to the right if you know the shipment volume and weight in total, or slide left if you know them by unit. You must select ‘Total Volume’ if your shipment includes boxes of different volumes or weights.
  • Input dim factor. The standard dim factors are suitable for most ocean (1:000 vol ratio), EU trucking (1:3000), express freight/courier (1:500) and air freight (1:600) shipments. For less common scenarios, input a custom ratio and UOM, e.g. “194” or “250” and “cu in/lb” for US trucking companies that don’t use freight class. If you select volume ratio, “1:” will be auto-populated.
  • Chargeable weight is highlighted in green.Chargeable weight is the heavier of: Dim weight (shipment volume divided by dim factor), or Total shipment weight (total weight or unit weight x qty).

You can also use this chargeable weight calculator with cylindrical packages. First, check with the carrier whether they square the circle (the diameter becomes width and height) or go Greek ( πr2). Then, multiply that number by the length to get volume.

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What are Volumetric & Chargeable Weight?

Standard freight pricing is based on weight rather than volume. However, very light loads take up much more space than their share of weight load, and would otherwise be unprofitable to ship.

The industry gets around this by imposing a minimum weight based on shipment dimensions. That’s why it’s called dimensional weight: if it’s not being called DIM weight, volumetric weight, volume weight or cubed weight.

A shipment’s dimensional weight is calculated by dividing its volume (units × length × width × height) by a “dim factor.” The lower the dim factor, the greater the dimensional weight.

Between actual weight and dimensional weight,  the number that is higher becomes the shipment’s chargeable weight (aka billable weight). Typically, light loads are charged by dimensional weight, while heavier loads are charged by actual weight. The threshold depends on volume and the dim factor used.

To understand how volumetric weight affects shipping costs, check out this explanation by David Kadish, Director of Operations at Primorus Worldwide.

Volumetric Weight Saves Cost

Shipments that are light for their size may be charged at dimensional weight rather than actual weight.

When calculating volumetric weight, first ensure that the shipment has been carefully weighed. A small error may be the difference between your shipment being charged by dimensional weight rather than actual weight.

There are several ways you can save costs by reducing your shipment’s volume weight ratio:

  • Don’t over-package lightweight freight beyond the minimum required to protect your shipment.
  • Use the smallest carton size possible.
  • Minimize wasted space by compressing products that can be compressed.
  • Pack lightweight cartons together if possible.
  • Minimize and avoid cartons altogether on small shipments, especially for air freight. Their dimensions will balloon dimensions and therefore chargeable weight.
  • Express freight customers may also consider negotiating the dim factor (this is especially relevant for regular customers) or using couriers that don’t use dimensional weight.

Volumetric Weight Calculation for Air Freight

The 1:6000 vol ratio, 6000 ccm/kg, 166 cu in/lb, 366 cu in/kg is common for IATA shipments. Air freight volume is usually rounded up to the next full or half-kilogram. Use our air freight chargeable weight calculator to get your estimate.


International Express has used dimensional weight for parcels for many years, typically using a vol ratio of 1:5000, which is a dim factor of 139 cu in/lb. Recently some couriers, including DHL, FedEx, UPS, and USPS have started using dimensional weight for ground services.

Volumetric Weight Calculation for Sea Freight

Because LCL has a very low dim factor, a shipment going by LCL will have a higher volumetric weight than if it went by any other mode. This is why almost all LCL cost is dimensional (usually referred to as “per CBM”). Only very dense shipments, like a pallet of batteries, are charged by actual weight.

Paradoxically, LCL is usually the cheapest mode, but only because its lower charges per unit weight more than make up for its higher volumetric weight. Very light shipments are an exception. LCL’s low dim factor (along with a higher indirect cost ratio) usually means that air freight is cheaper. 

Use our Ocean Freight Chargeable Calculator to get your estimate.

Truck LTL

Most US LTL freight shipment charging uses freight class rather than dimensional weight. Truckers using dimensional weight typically use a 194  or 250 dim factor.

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