International logistics services don't always reveal the benefits to getting the weight right - here's why it's so important

“Weighing in” on your International logistics services

We’ve covered the issue of cost and how to get the cheapest international freight rates by reviewing whether you should buy your own containers, ship overseas by air or ocean, among many other things that will impact your bottom line, both with your freight forwarding bill, and fees imposed by governing agencies and ports.

Today, it’s about weight and density.

First & foremost, as a shipper, it is critical that we understand how the carriers (airlines or steam lines) will rate our cargo according to the actual or volume weights.


  • Rating your shipment based on whichever weight is greater & which ratio do they apply to figure it out?

Ocean shipping for less than a container load shipment:

  • The relationship between the density weight & dimensional weight for pricing the shipping.

With more than 30 years of experience in the field, I can help you understand & mitigate the unknown areas of air or ocean shipping, often, mis-construed in regards to how the carriers weigh our cargoes.


1. The starting points for packing right

Determining the shipping standards for export

Not all shipments are born equal. Our product, the mode of transport & where it is going will affect the proper choice for packing. Using double-walled cardboard boxes, heat treated pallets, or wooden crates will make a difference. If you’re not sure, ask your freight forwarder.

Air freighting loose boxes or wooden crates 

Not all aircrafts are the same with weights & dimensions that have restrictions. Find out if your forwarders intend to use a passenger aircraft or a freighter. It is always useful to know your packing options for maximizing the density (actual weight over the volume (dimensional) weight. (get the formula HERE)

1. Air Freight Shipping

The airlines will use whichever weight (actual versus volume) is greater. Using the following example will alleviate any surprise:

Multiply the length by the width (in inches) by the height to obtain your cubic inches, then divide by the airlines’ ratio 166 to get your volume weight in pounds. To convert into kilograms simpy divide the volume weight in pounds by 2.2046 to get your convertion into kilograms. Safe packing made for the right aircraft & meeting the right standards for your cargo with the knowledge of your weight on the scale (gross/actual weight) as well as the volume (dimensional) weight will keep you in the driver seat.

2. LCL Ocean Freight Shipping

Shipments that are loaded from many different shippers into the ocean container (20′ / 40′), forklifts are used & maximizing the container space is top priority. Overseas, when the container is off-loaded onto the shipyard, it will be driven to a bonded warehouse, then devann (unloaded), segregating each shipment, then put through customs clearance & delivery.

We know that under such scenario, the right packing matters. Further, knowing that you also have to take into account the weight / volume dimensions affecting your bottom freight price.

So, again, in inches, multiply the length by the width by the height geting your cubic inches. Divide by 1728 to get to your cubic feet, then divide once more the total CFT / 35.3145 to obtain the numbers of cubic meters (CBM). Remembering that the ratio by ocean is 1000 kilos versus 1 cubic meter whichever is greater. As a side note, your exact volume will mostlikely drive your freight rate / CBM will get you your freight charges.


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Get the free conversion calculator to make this a little easier HERE



Remind yourself to know your product well & pack it to meet the correct shipping standards, and speak with your freight forwarder openly to avoid those unnecessary hurdles and setbacks.

Interested in learning more about how a freight forwarder can save you time and money with your overseas shipments? Click HERE to get a free quote today from an approved international freight forwarder!

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