Volumetric weight Vs. chargeable weight

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8 months ago5 min read

Did you ever get the quiz: “Which one is heavier: 1 kg of cotton or 1 kg of iron?”. While common sense may tell you that they both weight the same, a physicist will actually explain you why 1kg of iron is heavier. As for us, in the logistics world, we will go for 1 kg of cotton and here’s why:

What is the volumetric or dimensional weight?

The volumetric weight is a measurement adopted by couriers to determine the amount of space a package takes in the transport container. Whether it is a parcel sent by airfreight, road or sea freight, the volumetric weight is calculated by all the couriers as a strategy to maximize their capacity and, of course, their income.

This being said, a very light (cheaper) volume can take up a lot of space and if this space cannot be occupied by other heavier (and therefore more expensive) loads, the courier would end up losing money. Calculating the dimensional weight or volumetric weight of a parcel was the solution found by the logistics industry to make sure that every van, truck, plane or ship is filled in the most effective possible way.

Volumetric weight calculator

The first step to determine the volumetric weight of a package or parcel is by calculating its volume in cubic centimetres or cubic meters. Therefore, after measuring the exact length, width and height of your package, you just have to multiply the three values and you will obtain its volume.

The next step will be multiplying the volume of your package by the “volumetric weight constant”. The volumetric weight constant is defined according to the type of freight (air, road, sea), the courier delivering the package and to the destination chosen: is it a domestic delivery, an international delivery, an inland delivery or a delivery to an island? In summary, you will be calculating if your package is dense enough to be charged according to its gross weight or if its volumetric weight will apply instead.

(Depending on the country you live in, the volumetric weight can be calculated according to the imperial system or the metric system).

Here is an example:

Let’s say you wish to ship a parcel by road freight with a gross weight of 400 kg and the following dimensions: 110cm*100cm*120cm.

1. Calculate the volume of your parcel in cubic meters:

1,1m * 1m * 1,2m= 1.32 m3 (cubic meters)

2. Learn what is the volumetric weight constant for the route, courier and type of freight you choose and calculate the volumetric weight. Let’s assume that the weight constant is 333 Kg/m3.

1.32m3 * 333 Kg/m3 = 439.56 Kg.

In Conclusion: the volumetric or dimensional weight of your parcel is 439.56 kg while its actual gross weight is 400 kg.


Airfreight, Sea freight and Road freight volumetric weight constant

As the cargo capacity and transportation cost of each vehicle used for the different types of freights will vary so much, the volumetric weight will be calculated using different weight constants:

  • Airfreight volumetric weight: normally planes have a smaller capacity and can carry less weight than cargo ships, for instance, therefore the weight constant is also smaller.
    • Volumetric constant for airfreight according to IATA = 167 Kg/m3.
  • Sea freight volumetric weight: from all types of freight, the sea freight is the one capable of supporting not only more items but heavier and bulkier items as well.
    • Common volumetric constant for sea freight = 1000 Kg/m3
  • Road freight volumetric weight: the constant for calculating the volumetric weight on road freight is the most variable one according to the courier, type of service and route.


How to calculate the chargeable weight of a package?

After calculating the volumetric or dimensional weight of your parcel as explained above, you only need to find out which value is higher: the gross weight or the volumetric weight. The final price for your shipment will always have into consideration the higher weight, therefore, considering the example given above, the chargeable weight of your package would actually be 440 kg.


Is the volumetric weight the same as chargeable weight then?

No. Some people assume that, for big loads, the chargeable weight is automatically the volumetric weight. However, this information is not accurate since some parcels might have a higher density and actually weight more than their volumetric weight. On this case, the chargeable weight will be the gross weight of the parcel.

When shipping with Eurosender, you don’t have to do all this math as our experts will do it all for you. If you have a bulky/heavy item to ship, all you have to do is ask for an individual offer and our specialists will do all the calculations and make sure you get the right price and service for your parcel.

Why did the courier change my parcel’s weight?

If you booked a shipment with a courier and, after the pickup, they realized that the volumetric weight of your parcel is not only very different from its gross weight but also much higher, they will change the chargeable weight and adjust the price accordingly. The other option is that they might return the package to the sender.

Did we answer all your questions regarding volumetric weight vs. chargeable weight? Would you like to have more information or ask any other logistics-related questions? Do not hesitate in contacting us! Our friendly team will be more than happy to provide you with all the information you may be looking for!

Last modified:October 11, 2019

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Mariana Franco
Mariana is from Portugal and a pro cooking Pasteis de Nata and Bacalhau à Brás. Yummy, right? Besides that, singing opera and watching movies are amongst her hobbies too.
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