Dimensional Weight Explained

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Calculating your shipping rates seems like a fairly simple task. All you would need is the weight of the items and the destination, right? Wrong. In the shipping industry, weight can mean different things. Every time you make a shipment, SFL Worldwide has several factors to ensure, such as the timeline, budget, level of service, etc., to calculate something called Dimensional Weight or DIM.

If you’re confused and hear the terms “Dimensional Weight” and “Chargeable Weight” thrown around in contracts in the shipping industry,  this page will explain everything you need to know about these shipping terms related to weight.

What is Dimensional Weight?

Dimensional Weight, also known as DIM weight, volumetric weight, or cubed weight, is calculated by multiplying the length by width by height and dividing it by the dimensional weight divisor.

Actual weight is different from the terms Chargeable Weight and Dimensional Weight. Actual weight is the real weight of the items in your shipment, whereas Dimensional Weight is the space all the items, including packaging material, occupied in a carrier.

Use our Online Dimensional Weight Calculator on SFL Worldwide

 Lbs   Kgs 

Importance Of Dimensional Weight

One of the most important reasons for calculating Dimensional Weight is large shipping conglomerates such as FedEx and DHL calculate their prices based on DIM weight.

  • Efficient Packaging – DIM Weight improves the efficiency of your packaging. For example, let’s say you use a large-sized box for a small item. You will need tons of packing material to keep your items stable and secure until they reach their destination. Essentially, you are now paying the weight of the actual items plus all this extra packing material in the box and the overall space it will occupy on the transportation.
  • Pack More – By using lesser materials to package items, shippers gain more space in their carriers.
  • Good for the Environment – Thanks to DIM Weight, shippers are now identifying efficient ways to ship a product with minimal packaging and maximum stability. Using minimal resources to send an item is better for the environment.

DIM Weight Calculators by Carrier

Shipping carriers such as FedEx, UPS, and USPS have their way of calculating Dimensional Weight. Other factors, such as the nature of your shipments (domestic or international), influence the shipping price for your items.

Fedex Logo White

FedEx DIM Weight Calculator

To calculate Dimensional Weight, FedEx uses a straightforward method. It uses the higher number between DIM Weight and Actual Weight to determine the final shipping price.  However, this will vary depending on the FedEx service used.

The standard formula FedEx Dimensional Weight uses in kg – Length X Height X Width in cm / 5000

Ups Logo White

UPS DIM Weight Calculator

UPS Dimensional Weight calculations are done using a simple method of multiplying the height by the length by the width. You can calculate the dimensional weight for UPS shipments based on the billable weight in the scenario that the dimensional weight is higher than the actual weight.

The standard formula for calculating UPS Dimensional Weight is done by determining the cubic size by multiplying L by W by H and dividing with the DIM divisor for UPS.

Usps Logo White

USPS DIM Weight Calculator

Calculating the USPS Dimensional Weight is as simple and straightforward as most carriers. USPS, however, estimates the weight only on Priority Mail and Parcel Select shipments exceeding one cubic foot.

Other shippers may have surcharges on larger shipments in addition to the standard charges.

How To Calculate Dimensional Weight (DIM Weight)?

You need to multiply the length by width by height of your package and divide by the DIM divisor as prescribed by the shipper for domestic and international shipments. Below are the steps to calculate dimensional weight.

  1. Measure the dimensions of your package. Note down the length, width, and height, considering all your package’s irregularities.
  2. Multiply the numbers. 
  3. DIM divisors are different for domestic and international shipments. Currently, the divisor used for domestic shipments is 166, and international shipments are 139. 
  4. Take the multiplication total and divide it with the DIM divisor relevant to your shipment.

For domestic shipments, you will calculate it as

18 X 18 X 16

This gives you a dimensional weight of 31.23 lbs.

For international shipments, you will calculate it as

18 X 18 X 16

This gives you a dimensional weight of 37.29 lbs.

All shipping carriers typically round your numbers to the nearest whole number as the dimensional weight. In this example, the shipping carrier will round it up to the nearest number, 32 lbs for domestic shipments and 38 lbs for international shipments.

Why is it used by parcel carriers?

This concept of Dimensional Weight was first created when parcel carriers realized that the space occupied by your package on the mode of transport is not the same as the weight of the actual shipment.

Since the total cargo space is limited in the carrier, it only made sense to charge customers based on weight and the amount of room their package would occupy on the carrier.

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FAQs - Dimensional Weight

Chargeable weight or billable weight is the measurement used to determine your final shipping price based on whichever is higher than the actual weight or dimensional weight. 


In the above example used on this page, for instance, the actual weight of the item is 10 lbs. The dimensional weight for domestic shipping is 32 lbs, so shipping charges are calculated for the dimensional weight of 32 lbs, which is 22 lbs more than the shipment’s actual weight.

Dimensional Weight is a proper means to determine the efficient way to send your packages. Packing your items in packaging that correlates to the size of the items keeps your shipping costs low.

  • Consider how much space you actually require to ship an item. 
  • Use the right-sized box. If possible, disassemble items to fit in a smaller size box.
  • Shippers also provide flat rate box options for those not wanting to deal with the dimensional weight calculation. 

You might want to consider these aspects to keep your costs low.  Read our blog to learn more tips to save money.

Almost all major carriers, including FedEx, UPS, and DHL, use Dimensional Weight to calculate your final billable weight.

Like many major carriers, FedEx utilizes dimensional weight to calculate the shipping price. The DIM divisor for domestic shipments is 166, and the divisor for international shipments is 139.

Like many major carriers, UPS utilizes dimensional weight to calculate the shipping price. The DIM divisor for domestic shipments is 166, and the divisor for international shipments is 139.

The Dimensional Weight formula for USPS is L x W x H / 166, unlike other carriers which uses 139 as the DIM divisor.

No. Customers must calculate the volumetric weight of their packages using our online calculator on this page. Please note that your calculations are verified for accuracy by the carrier. They will measure and notify the accurate weight of your items.


Shipping your items securely should always be the number one priority. That said, it is important to note that the larger your box, the more your dimensional weight is. It is essential, therefore, to pack your items using only the necessary shipping material. This helps keep your costs low without sacrificing the quality of your shipments.

At SFL Worldwide, our team of packing specialists can advise you on the suitable packaging and dunnage to use for efficient packing. Contact us at 1-800-691-2335 to learn more, and visit our website to get a quote for your next shipment.

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