• Parcel Room Staff

Size Matters: Actual Weight vs Dimensional Weight

Gone are the simple days when all the small package carriers’ charges were only based on weight. Now, it is a complicated algorithm that takes a number of factors into account.

Perhaps the most complicated change is the switch to the Dimensional Weight system. Depending on the size and weight of the package you may be charged by the Actual or Dimensional weight of a shipment. The carrier will consider the higher value your billable weight and charge accordingly. Thankfully, this isn’t as complicated as it appears to be, and knowing how it works can help you make informed decisions when shipping.

First, what is Actual Weight? It is exactly what it sounds like- it is the actual, physical weight of the shipment. If your shipment weighs 10 pounds, your Actual Weight is 10 pounds.

Dimensional Weight is a volumetric calculation. The carriers use Dimensional Weight to determine how much space a shipment takes on its vehicles. Each small package carrier has their own equation that they use to calculate this, but they all use the length, width, and height of the parcel and a divisor to determine its volume. For instance, if you are shipping a pillow that weighs 3 pounds in a 15x15x15 cube box, your Dimensional Weight will be in the 21 to 25 pound range. So even though the parcel actually weighs 3 pounds, your billable weight will be the Dimensional weight in this circumstance.

On the other side of the equation, let’s pretend that the 15 cube box has 40 pounds of bricks inside. Now, the Actual Weight exceeds the Dimensional Weight. In this case, you would be billed for the Actual Weight.

In short, Actual Weight is physical weight and Dimensional Weight is volume. A small package carrier will calculate your price based on which value is higher. Parcel Room can help you determine the best way to ship your items with these factors taken into consideration.

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