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Freight from the USA

Cubic Meter in international cargo transportation

A Cubic meter equals approximately 35 cubic feet.

In international cargo transportation, a cubic meter is the standard unit for measuring shipping freight volume. However, since the imperial metric system is still used in Americans' everyday lives, the volume of cargo shipping from the USA to overseas can still be calculated in cubic feet.

A cubic meter is a relatively large volume. This picture should give you an idea of how big the cubic meter is.

Shipping cargo LCL

It isn't easy to imagine the volume of a cubic meter. Click on the picture below to watch a short video on YouTube about how much cargo you can ship, paying for shipping cargo volume in one cubic meter.

Ship boxes by cubic meter

Running ahead, there is always a minimum charge in LCL freight. Most of the time, the minimum is equal to shipping cargo of a volume of one cubic meter. If you ship goods from the USA LCL, you always pay the minimum, even though you ship a cargo of a smaller volume.

In respect of international cargo transportation, you should distinguish freight price calculations based on chargeable (metric) volume and volume calculated based on the dimensional weight of cargo.

  • With chargeable volume, you are simply multiplying a freight rate per cubic meter (or cubic foot) by the volume of shipping cargo.
  • With the dimensional weight, there is a limit on the weight of shipping cargo per cubic meter or foot. If the density of cargo exceeds the limit, then the chargeable volume will be recalculated depending on the weight using formulas specific to different modes of cargo transportation and carriers.

In shipping freight from the US LCL, for general commodities, most of the time, shipping goods' weight does not exceed the density limit. However, if you ship from the USA an extremely heavy cargo, you should keep in mind the limitation.

Do not confuse ocean freight shipping (LCL) with U.S. domestic cargo transportation (LTL) used in cargo pickups and line-hauls. Inland trucking freight charges are always based on dimensional weight and weight class.

Dimensional weight


Cubic Meter in LCL shipping

LCL Sea freight is the most economical way to ship a relatively large cargo volume from the U.S. overseas. Another advantage of shipping goods LCL is that, typically, the weight of the cargo is not a pricing factor. Please note that this statement is not valid for shipping aboard extremely heavy cargo. Find more about w/m limitations on our website.

Unlike with parcel service or airfreight, when shipping from USA LCL, freight rates are primarily based on volume but not on the weight of shipping goods. LCL freight price quotes in international cargo transportation are based on ocean freight rates per cubic meters or cubic feet, but the weight of the load is in kilos or pounds. If you ship LCL, then disregard the weight of your cargo.

If you ship from the USA loose boxes LCL, these pictures should give you an idea of how many shipping boxes may fit into one cubic meter volume.

  shipping boxes in seafreight    cubic meter in international shippingshipping boxes fit in one cubic meter

Please note that your shipping boxes' overall volume does not have to be limited by one cubic meter. LCL freight is not limited by volume. The total volume of your LCL shipment will be derived as a sum of the volumes of your shipping units (including fractions). For example:

international shipping of boxes in seafreight

Transporting 20 shipping box sizes of 18"x14"x12" is equal to shipping 1.42 CUBIC METERS. (20x1.50'x1.67'x1' = 50.1 cubic feet = 1.42 CUBIC METERS)

international shipping of boxes

Transporting of 6 shipping boxes sizes of 18"x18"x22" is equal to shipping 0.7 CUBIC METER* (6x1.50'x1.50'x1.83' = 24.7 cubic feet = 0.7 CUBIC METERS)

*Important: international LCL sea freight rates always have minimum charges on entire shipments. In this example, if the rate is $125 per CBM / $125 minimum charge, then you always pay $125 till the volume of your cargo goes over one cubic meter.

Typically (but not always), minimum charges in LCL rates are equal to costs for shipping cargo of a volume of one cubic meter. Please keep in mind that if your total shipping volume multiplied by the LCL Sea freight rate per CBM will be less than the minimum in the ocean freight rate, then you will be charged that minimum regardless of the actual volume that you are shipping.

In your international delivery from the USA, using the LCL, you can ship overseas any sizes of boxes and crates. You can mix and match shipping boxes of any size. You can ship boxes, crates, luggage, or any other cargo adequately packed and labeled for international shipping. The only limitation is that all your shipping units must fit into a 40-foot multimodal sea freight container.

Please note that all the information does not apply to shipping goods from the USA overseas with international moving companies. This website is about shipping from the USA directly with international cargo transportation companies.

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