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Getting your head around Volumetric Ratios

What are Volumetric Ratios & Why do they Matter?

If you are reading this article you may be wondering what volumetric ratios are and why, as an importer or exporter, they should matter to you. It is not uncommon that as a forwarder we are asked this question.

Essentially volumetric ratios (or chargeable weights) are used to ensure the weight or size of your cargo are considered in equal measure when shipping.

For example, imagine you have a piece of steel you would like to send LCL via seafreight. Now imagine the steel is small in size (0.5cbm) but weighs over 2000kgs. LCL freight is charged in cubic meters. However, on this occasion your goods are not taking up much space in the container but are using a lot of the container’s weight capacity. This is where the volumetric ratio comes in.

This is also the case for airfreight. Airfreight is charged in KGs. Consider you are shipping something light like toilet rolls. The toilet rolls only weigh 100kgs however, they take up 5 cubic meters worth of space. The airline will now charge you a volumetric weight to cover the space taken up on the aircraft.

Understanding volumetric ratios is essential when calculating the cost of your freight.

If you are sending goods internationally via air or sea freight you can calculate your volumetric shipping size by downloading our volumetric calculator or read on to find out more.

How to Calculate Volumetric Ratios

To effectively calculate your volumetric ratios, you can use the formula below.

The key rule to remember is: You will always be charged by whatever is higher, your volumetric ratio or your cubic meters or KGs.

Transport mode:          Airfreight

Volume ratio:                1 cbm = 167 kgs

Formula:                          cbm x 167 = chargeable weight

*If actual weight is higher you will be charged on actual weight

Transport mode:          Oceanfreight

Volume ratio:                1 cbm = 1000 kgs

Formula:                          cbm x 1000 = chargeable weight

*If actual cube is higher than chargeable weight you will be charged on actual cube


Let’s take our example above to calculate chargeable weight and return to our toilet rolls. Remember our toilet rolls weigh 100kgs but in volume they are 5 cubic meters.

For an airfreight shipment 1 cubic meter is the equivalent of 167kgs.

5 x 167kgs = 835

Your chargeable weight is 835kgs for this shipment which is higher than 100kgs. You will therefore be charged for sending 835kgs via airfreight.

One Last Tip

The above should give you a good basis of how to calculate your volumetric ratios but remember your ICE team are here to help.

If you need further support understanding volumetric rations or calculating the costs of freight, you can contact the ICE team on 1300 CARGO1.

Request a Free Quote or call us on 1300 227 461

Find Out How Our Team Can Help

Our team are ready to take your call on 1300 CARGO1

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