When it comes to freight shipping, the weight your goods are charged for is not always the same as their actual weight. That’s because vessels have limitations on both space and weight – and can’t reasonably charge the same amount for goods of equal weight if they take up very different amounts of space.
Use our free universal chargeable and volumetric weight calculator to calculate your goods’ chargeable weight – and avoid unexpected shipping fees.
This calculator works with any dim factor or volumetric ratio and is suitable for all modes, countries, and freight carriers.
Chargeable & Volumetric Weight Calculator
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 makes 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.
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.
Was this the Freightos.com shipment measurement tool that you were looking for? As well as the just-mentioned freight density calculator, we also have a tool for calculating your shipment’s cubic meter volume (CBM Calculator).