What is chargeable weight?

Emergency Logistics Glossary

What does chargeable weight mean?

Chargeable weight or volume weight is an abstract quantity used to calculate the freight rate. It takes into account that not only the actual weight of a shipment is important for its transportation, but also the required cargo space based on its dimensions. A very large shipment with light weight is generally more expensive than a compact shipment with the same weight.

To calculate the freight rate, the volumetric weight – alternatively referred to as dimensional weight or simply DIM – is compared with the actual weight of the shipment. The larger weight figure is used as a basis.

What is chargeable weight in air freight?

The formula for calculating chargeable weight differs for air shipments and, for example, courier services. To calculate the volumetric weight, the dimensions of the shipment and a certain divisor are needed. IATA (International Air Transport Association) recommends a divisor of 6000 for air freight.

How do you calculate chargeable weight?

The formula for the chargeable weight or volume weight is: (length x height x width) / divisor = volume weight in kg.


  • Lengths are measured in cm.
  • The divisor is determined by the respective service provider. Courier service providers work with a value of 5000, in air freight 6000 is used.
  • The result is rounded up to the nearest half kg.

An example for air freight:

The shipment has the following dimensions: length 90 cm, height 50 cm, width 80 cm. The weight is 25 kg. So the formula is:

(90 x 50 x 80) / 6000 = 60 kg.

Thus, in this example, the chargeable weight or volume weight is higher than the actual weight. The freight rate is based on the higher value, i.e. the volume weight of 60 kg.

What is “actual weight”?

Actual weight is the physical weight of an air cargo shipment, weighed and measured in kilograms (kg) or pounds (lbs). To calculate the freight rate, the actual weight is compared to the calculation of the volumetric weight according to the dimensions. The freight rate is then based on the higher weight figure.