What is volumetric weight and how to calculate it

17 June, 2021
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If you work in the logistics or transport sector, you are probably familiar with this term.

Calculating the volumetric weightcorrectly is very important, as it allows you to choose the form of transport that best suits your needs and even save possible cost overruns on shipments.

Therefore, in this article we explain in detail how to calculate the volumetric weight of your goods.

What is volumetric weight and why is it important?

The volumetric weight or volume weight is the calculation of the space occupied by a good within the means used for shipping (van, truck, train, plane, etc.), also taking into account its dimensions: width, length and height of the package.

Therefore, it allows us to know the occupation of the goods, which is essential for planning transport loads and their cost.

How is the volumetric weight of a shipment calculated?

The volumetric weight is calculated with the following formula:


That is:


And what is the conversion factor?

The conversion factor transforms volume into billable weight.

There are some market standards, which are different depending on the mode of transport (land, air or sea)and we will see below.

But here we must take into account another element: the chargeable or billable weight.

The chargeable weight

We will now see why it is important to know the concept of chargeable weight.

What is chargeable weight

The chargeable weight defines the load for which the goods will be invoiced.

To determine it, you have to choose between the volumetric weight or the gross weight, selecting the one with the higher value of the two.

It is an important factor in determining the final cost of an operation in the transport of goods and its calculation is different depending on the mode of transport, since the conversion factor varies, as we shall see below.

Road transport

To calculate the chargeable weight for road transport shipments, not only the volume of the goods to be transported must be taken into consideration, but also whether the goods are stackable or not.

  • If it is a stackable or remountable cargo: the first thing to do is to calculate the volumetric weight, according to the formula we have seen (Volume x conversion factor) and then compare it with the actual weight. Then we choose the higher value, which is what would correspond to the chargeable weight.
  • If it is a non-stackable or stackable load: i.e., it exceeds 120 centimeters in height, the height is no longer necessary to calculate the volume, since it cannot be grouped. This is why linear meters (LWD) are used. In this case, the formula for calculating the volumetric weight is different: VOLUMETRIC WEIGHT (kg) = MLD x Conversion Factor (MLD/kg). That is: VOLUMETRIC WEIGHT (kg) = Length (m) x Width (m) x Conversion factor (MLD/kg).

As for the conversion factor, it will also depend on whether it is remountable or not, and where the transport takes place (international or domestic). It is shown in this table:

Type of transportRemountableNon-remountable
International333 kg/㎥1800kg/LDM
Iberian Peninsula250-270 kg/㎥1750 kg/LDM
Balearic and Canary Islands333 kg/㎥1750 kg/LDM

Once the volumetric weight has been calculated, it would be necessary to compare it with the actual weight and choose the higher value of the two to define the chargeable weight, as we have seen.

Air transport

Here the formula we will apply will be the same as for ground shipments of stackable goods:

VOLUMETRIC WEIGHT (kg) = Volume () x Conversion factor (/kg).

In the case of air transport the conversion factor is 167.

Then the higher value between volumetric and actual weight should be chosen.

Maritime transport

In maritime transport the calculation of the volumetric weight is much easier, as the conversion factor is always 1 ton per cubic meter.

This means that the only thing we have to calculate is the volume. In other words, we would apply this formula:

VOLUME () = Length (m) x Width (m) x Height (m).

We will compare the result with the actual weight to choose the highest value as the taxable weight.

Now, let’s look at an example to better understand how the volumetric weight is calculated.

Imagine that your company is going to make an overland shipment to the UK. The goods are stackable and weigh 450 kg, are 1 m high, 0.8 m wide and 1.2 m long.

The conversion factor, being stackable goods and international transport, would be 333 kg/㎥.

How would we calculate the volumetric weight?

Through the formula we have seen:

Volumetric weight= volume (lengthxwidthxheight) x conversion factor = 1.2 x 0.8 x 1 x 333 = 319.68.

On the other hand, since the actual weight is 450 kg, it exceeds the volumetric weight. Therefore, the assessable weight will be 450 kg.

We hope this article has helped you understand how to calculate volumetric weight and why it is so important.

Anyway, if you have any doubt about this or any other issue related to your transport company, please fill in this form and we will answer you as soon as possible.