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Freight shipping tips, tools, and guides to drive better international freight for importers and exporters of all sizes

Cubic Meter Calculator for CBM Shipping

Calculate your shipment’s cubic meter volume with this free CBM calculator.

Freight shipment cubic volumes are typically required to get a price quote. Use this CBM calculator to easily calculate CBM and how many products fit in a shipping container.

CBM is also critical for calculating dimensional weight, chargeable weight, calculating freight class, or for requesting a freight quote.

CBM Calculator

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What is CBM?

CBM, or cubic meter, is the freight volume of the shipment for domestic and international freight. This measurement is calculated by multiplying the width, height and length together of the shipment.

How Do I Calculate CBM?

The CBM formula is a simple calculation – it’s the product of the quantity of items * length * width * height). If your shipment has different sized items, simply repeat the formula for each size and add up the volumes.

Our free CBM calculator will do the heavy lifting for you. Simply follow these easy steps:

1. Select the unit of measurement (metric or imperial)
2. Type in the number of units (pallets, boxes or crates) and then the unit’s length, width and height.
3. The total volume will be displayed inline.

Need to calculate the CBM of cylindrical packages? Check with the carrier whether they square the circle (the diameter becomes width and height) or pull out your high-school math formula and multiply the radius of the package by Pi and then again by 2 ( πr2). Then, multiply that number by the length of the package to get volume.

Shipping different sizes? Simply run each size of an item through the calculator, write down the total volumes and add them up.

What Is CBM In Shipping Terms?

CBM is simply the volume of your shipment. However, the volume is then used for other important international (courier, air or ocean) freight calculations including:

• Dimensional weight (cbm to kg or cft to lbs) – Dimensional weight is a way to create a theoretical number representing bulky but light shipments. For example, a pallet of ping pong balls would be very light but would take up the same volume on an airplane as a pallet of weights. By calculating the dimensional weight, carriers can determine the…
• Chargeable weight – Chargeable weight is merely the greater of the dimensional weight (aka size) or weight. In other words, while ocean freight pricing is fairly averse to weight and more focused on size, air freight is much more sensitive so the dimensional weight will usually play a more important role than the actual weight.
• Freight class –  In the United States, most LTL trucking carriers have also created a theoretical number to compensate truckers for shipping oversized loads. Most products shipped by truck go by simple freight class categories determined by weight. However, CBM can also play a large role in calculating the freight class.

How Many Products Fit In A Container (CBM)?

Knowing your shipment volume is also required when estimating how many products will fit in a 20′ or 40′ ocean shipping container. This time it’s not a simple arithmetic formula of comparing total shipment volume and container maximum capacity, as nearly every time a container is loaded, it’s impossible to use every piece of space.

The amount of unusable space depends on the size and shapes of the items being loaded, on their packaging and also on how the items are stowed. As a rule of thumb, the actual capacity within a container is typically a little over 80% of its maximum capacity.

With that in mind, use the following table to get a general estimate of how many products will fit in the four most common sized shipping containers (20′, 40′, 40′ HC and 45′ HC).

Container Type Length Width Height Capacity Maximum
20′ 589 cm 234 cm 238 cm 26-28 CBM 33 CBM
40′ 1200 cm 234 cm 238 cm 56-58 CBM 66 CBM
40′ HC (High Cube) 1200 cm 234 cm 269 cm 60-68 CBM 72 CBM
45′ HC (High Cube) 1251 cm 245 cm 269 cm 72-78 CBM 86 CBM