Actual Weight vs. Volumetric Weight. What’s the Difference?

Actual Weight vs. Volumetric Weight. What’s the Difference?

When sending a parcel by courier services, the shipping rate is always based on a certain weight along with the destination that you are shipping to. But the chargeable weight of one item can be between the actual weight and the volumetric weight. So, what’s the difference between the two and which one is used to charge you when shipping? Let’s dive in!

Actual Weight

As self explanatory as it is, the actual weight of an item is according to the scale. If the scale shows the weight of item A being 2.7KG, then that is the actual weight. There’s nothing more to it!

Volumetric Weight

Volumetric weight, on the other hand, is a measurement used by courier services to determine the amount of space an item will take in a transport container. Whether sent by sea freight or air freight, the volumetric weight is calculated by couriers as a strategy to maximize their capacity.

The majority of couriers base their shipping rates on either the size or volumetric weight of an item, whichever is greater. The larger the item is, the more room it will take in the transport container. Hence, the more it costs to ship the item.

How to Calculate Volumetric Weight

Different courier services have different formulas for calculating an item’s volumetric weight. Some courier services will divide the total volume by 5,000 while some may use 6,000. You can refer to which courier services in Malaysia use as below:


As for now, we will use 5,000 for our example.

There are two formulas that are used:

  • Width x Length x Height in centimetres ÷ 5000 = Volumetric Weight in kilogram
  • (Shipping Fee for First KG) + (Consecutive KG x Fee for Each KG) = Shipping Rate

But let’s take it step by step!

1. Item A weighs 2.7KG with a parcel dimension of 35cm x 25cm x 21cm.

2. It’s volumetric weight will then be: 35cm x 25cm x 21cm = 18,375 ÷ 5,000 = 3.675KG (first formula)

3. When we compare 2.7KG (actual weight) and 3.675KG (volumetric weight), the latter has a higher value. Hence, the chargeable weight will be the volumetric weight which is 3.675KG.

4. Before proceeding to the next step, a value with decimal points will be rounded off to the next whole number. In this case, the volumetric weight of item A is officially 4KG.

5. With AllSome Fulfillment‘s best rates, the calculation will be RM6 + (3 x RM1.50) = RM10.50 (second formula)

6. So, item A’s shipping rate will be RM10.50!

The actual weight of item A is 2.7KG but the volumetric weight is 4KG. As mentioned above, courier services will always use the highest weight between the two. That is the reason 4KG is chosen to determine the shipping rate.

On the other hand, if the parcel dimension is 10cm x 10cm x 10cm. By using the same formula, the volumetric weight is then only 0.2KG (10cm x 10cm x 10cm ÷ 5,000). Compared to actual weight of 2.7KG, it’s heavier than 0.2KG. Hence, for this case, the chargeable weight is the actual weight as it is heavier.

If you need any advice or have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us! AllSome can even help you with managing your inventory, pick and pack and even deliver to your buyers with the best shipping rates! We even provide free storage for you inventory. Contact us today!

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