How Courier and Air Freight Companies Charge By Volume and Weight

Volumetric Weight charges

We recently had an issue with an air freight shipment. When we sent it to FedEx, the package size changed slightly, and the price went 900 USD from the original quote. The reason why it went up so much was any packing change – even a slight one in volume and weight- FedEx adjusted he volumetric weight and charged us more than what was expected.

Air Freight companies will use both the volume or size and the weight of a package to come up with the volumetric weight. If the package is lighter than the actual volumetric weight, the volumetric weight will be charged. If it is heavier than the volumetric weight, then the package’s actual weight will be charged.

The volumetric charge can be confusing for many people, especially if they send things internationally. But, all courier and air freight companies will look at the volumetric weight as part of their cost calculations.

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What Are The Volume and Weight Charges?

When courier or air freight companies look at how to charge for their shipment, they will calculate the total kilos or pounds by looking at both the volume or size of the package and the actual weight for the package. They do a volumetric measurement to find out the package’s actual kilo or pound charge.

The volumetric calculations are sometimes called chargeable weight. The courier and air freight companies charge this way because for an airplane to take off, they must also look at the load, weight, and volume on the plane.

This is the same reason why if you have ever been on an airplane and you heard the pilot announce that they were overweight and would take off once they had taken out some cargo. This is because the planes can only take off under a specific weight load.

Here is what volume and weight mean:

Meaning of Volume

The volume is measured simply by measuring your carton size. You measure your carton by the Height X Width X Length of the carton. When doing the measurements, you must measure your cartons at their widest, longest, and highest points, as this is how the shipping companies will measure it.

This includes if your package has any handles, straps, or handles that are coming out of it. The company will look at the highest point, including anything bulging out of the carton.

Meaning of Weight

The weight of the carton is, as it says – the weight of the overall carton. You will want to be as accurate as you can with this to be able to calculate the volumetric weight.

The actual weight of your cargo must include the entire final packing. If you are going to palletize your cargo, you need to weigh it, including any pallets or other packing.

How to Find The Volumetric Weight of A Carton?

The volumetric weight of a carton is the carton’s overall size and the carton’s measurement in kilograms or pounds. We have two calculations 1) to measure the carton in cm and the other in inches.

Volumetric Calculations Using CM

Carton Size Length x Width X Height of the Carton (you must measure it in cm) Then divide that figure by 5,000 (some companies will divide by 4,000 for some services)

Many companies will divide this by 5,000, but some may divide it by 4,000 or another number. So if you are not sure, you should ask them so that you know how to calculate the volumetric weight.

Volumetric Calculation Using Inches

Carton Size Length x Width X Height of the Carton (you must measure it in inches) Then divide that figure by 305 (some companies will divide by 245 for some services)

How Does the Volumetric Weight Work with Air Freight Shipments?

The volumetric weight determines if the carton size is larger (its volume) than its actual weight. Here are some samples to show you how this is calculated:

A Carton Whose Volume Size is More Than Its Actual Carton Weight

Let’s say that you have a very lightweight carton filled with a lot of space, such as some lampshades. The actual carton size is 100 cm X 50 cm X 50 cm, but the actual weight is only 15 kilos.

Here are the basics for this calculation for using cm and kilos:

Actual Volume – 100 cm X 50 cm X 50 cm carton size

Actual Carton Weight – 15 kilos

Volumetric Weight Calculations – (100 cm X 50 cm X 50 cm) = 250,000 divided by 5,000 = 50 volumetric kilos.

What Is Charged? – As 50 kilos is greater than 15 kilos, this package will be charged as 50 kilos and not 15 kilos.

Here are the basics for this calculation for using inches and pounds:

Actual Volume – 40 inches X 40 inches X 20 inches  carton size

Actual Carton Weight – 40 pounds

Volumetric Weight Calculations – (40″ X 40″ X 20″) = 32,000 divided by 305 = 105 pounds

What Is Charged? – As 104 pounds is greater than 40 pounds, then this package will be charged as 104 pounds weight and not 40 pounds weight.

A Carton Whose Volume Size is Less Than Its Actual Carton Weight

This will work both ways in that if you have a very heavy carton, you will only be charged the maximum of the volumetric weight. Here is another example.

Let’s say that you have a carton that is very heavy and is filled with some very heavy metal finials. The actual carton size is 30 cm X 30 cm X 25cm but the actual weight is 8 kilos.

Here are the basics for these calculations:

Actual Volume – 30 cm X 30 cm X 25 cm carton size

Actual Carton Weight – 8 kilos

Volumetric Weight Calculations – (30 cm X30 cm X 25 cm) = 22,500 divided by 5,000 = 4.5 volumetric kilos.

What Is Charged? – As 8 kilos is more significant than 4.5 kilos, this package will be charged as 8 kilos weight, which is the actual carton weight, and not 4.5 kilos, which is the volumetric weight.

If you are planning to ship any large volume by air by using an air forwarder or a courier service, it is helpful to understand how they will calculate the volumetric of the package. This can help you to plan more efficiently for what the charge may be.

Even if you do calculate this, on the day and time you deliver the package to them, they may also charge a different per kilo or pound rate according to how much or how little space they have on the plane. Use these calculations as a guide and contact your forwarder or courier company to get their exact rates.

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Anita Hummel

Hi, I am Anita Hummel. I am the President of Mondoro. I am passionate about helping you CREATE, DEVELOP, and MANUFACTURE home decor and home furnishing products. I am also an avid blogger with a love of travel and riding my motorcycle around the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam.

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Volume & Weight Charges