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Freight from the USA

Metric weight Vs. dimensional weight in shipping freight from the U.S. LCL

In respect of international cargo transportation from the USA LCL, you should keep in mind the difference between the metric and dimensional weight of cargo. But first, let's talk a little about freight.

In multimodal cargo transportation from the USA, the term freight may mean a cargo transfer between two locations with a single carrier. If there are two or more carriers involved in shipping, the total freight cost is divided by carriers.

For example, you ship goods LCL from the USA to Paris, France, by sea via New York port and request to pick up your shipping goods at your facility in Austin, TX.

The ocean freight carrier (cargo consolidator) has a freight terminal to collect your cargo in Dallas, TX, and a terminal at the place of delivery in Paris, France. (In ocean freight, such terminals are called CFS - Container Freight Station).

Then you hire a U.S. domestic carrier to pick up the cargo at your facility and deliver it to the CFS in Dallas, TX. As a result, you are involved in a multimodal international shipment with two carriers. Then your total freight charges are divided by two carriers:

  • Freight cost from a U.S. domestic LTL carrier for cargo delivery to CFS in Dallas, TX.
  • Freight cost from an international ocean freight carrier to ship goods from CFS in Dallas to CFS in Paris.

Please note that the freight from the ocean freight carrier may include different modes of transportation, inland trucking and rail in the origin and destination countries, and sea freight with re-loads over several vessels. However, because the freight is from a single ocean freight carrier, all the transportation expenses are included in the sea freight rate per cubic meter or foot.

Now let's talk about the metric and dimensional weight.


Metric weight in sea freight

These days, vessels' capacity is not really limited by the weight of cargo. It is limited by the hold of the ship. Charges for regular shipping cargo are based on the overall cargo volume but not the weight of the cargo. Therefore, as a rule, in international cargo transportation LCL, the cargo's weight is not a pricing factor. However, in international shipping LCL, a density limit - WM limit (weight/measurement) applies to rates.

W/m limitations vary depending on international ocean freight carriers, origins, destinations, etc. Regular international ocean freight shipments most likely will not exceed the density limit. In general, exporters and importers have to be aware of the 'U.S. 45 lbs rule in ocean freight shipping: 45 lbs = one cubic foot. This means that if cargo density in international LCL shipping from the USA exceeds 45 lbs per one cubic foot, then the chargeable volume (freight cost) in LCL freight will be calculated using this formula: Total Weight of ocean freight (in pounds) divided by 45 lbs = Chargeable Volume in cubic feet. In international cargo transportation, usually used this limit: 1 cubic meter = 1000 kilos.

However, depending on an ocean freight carrier, origin, destination, etc., the limit may vary: 1 cbm = 750 kilos; 1 cbm = 500 kilos, etc. International shippers should pay attention to the w/m limit.


Dimensional weight in U.S. LTL ground transportation

Dimensional Weight (or Dim. Weight) states for a volumetric standard instead of using actual weight. In respect of international multimodal shipping from the USA LCL, Dimensional Weight will be used by U.S. domestic LTL carriers in calculations of charges for cargo ground transportation to ocean freight carriers terminals (CFS).

In respect of our online freight calculator, dimensional weight may apply to cargo pickup or line-haul. In other words, in international shipping from the USA overseas, U.S. domestic pickup or line-haul charges are based either on the actual or dimensional weight of cargo, whichever is greater.

Dimensional weight

In general dimensional weight favors the shippers of dense objects and penalizes those who ship lightweight boxes. For example, a box of un-popped corn kernels will likely be charged by gross weight; a box of popcorn will probably be charged by its dimensional weight. Shippers avoid dimensional weight charges by using smaller boxes, compressing their goods, and reducing the use of packing materials.

Dimensional weight in U.S. domestic ground transportation calculates using this formula: DIM. WEIGHT IN LBS = L X W X H (IN INCHES) :164.



Freight class applies to U.S. LTL ground transportation. Freight Class is the category of your freight defined by the U.S. National Motor Freight Traffic Association. (NMFTA). It is also referred to as NMFC: National Motor Freight Classification.

The Freight Class of your shipment is determined by its contents, as different types of products have different shipping costs. There are 18 different freight classes from class 55 up to class 500. In our system, freight class determines the rate you will pay on pickups or/and line-hauls of your goods to ocean carrier’s facilities (CFS – Container Freight Stations). Higher freight classes are subject to higher costs on ground cargo transportation.
The NMFTA classes products according to four characteristics:

  • Density - weight per cubic foot
  • Stowability - including excessive weight and excessive length
  • Ease of Handling - includes special care or attention necessary to handle the goods.
  • Liability- includes price per pound, susceptibility to theft, liability to damage, and perishability.
When shipping NMFC-rated shipments, ensure that your class is accurate. The freight class submitted is most likely not to be reclassified if it falls within the following guidelines:
  • You ship new or used commercial/industrial goods.
  • The density corresponds to the freight class.

Our online freight calculator helps you determine freight class based on density – the only one out of four characteristics. However, the shipper must consider the rest of the traits and change the freight class on his/her shipment if necessary.

You may also call the NMFTA direct at (703) 838-1810 to reconfirm the freight class on your shipment by commodity.

Please note that if you declare household goods in your shipment, then your freight class, regardless of its density, will be reclassified by the LTL carrier to class 150.

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