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CBM Calculator for Shipping

Table of contents

What is CBM?How to calculate CBM?Total weight vs. volumetric weightHow to use our shipping cube calculator: an exampleContainer types in the cubic meter calculatorHow to calculate CBM when your package is irregularly shaped?Why the CBM calculation for sea shipment matters?FAQs

This CBM calculator for shipping is a simple tool that helps you determine the volume and weight of your consignment.

This calculator helps you plan your transport: all you have to do is input the dimensions and weight of the box you're shipping, and our calculator will tell you how many cartons of this size will fit in a standard container. You will also learn more about the CBM measurement and cubic meter itself.

You can use our calculator immediately or read on to learn how to calculate CBM. Once you're done, make sure to check out the freight class calculator, too!

What is CBM?

CBM stands for cubic meters. It is a metric unit of volume that describes how much space your consignment takes. If you want to recalculate it to imperial units, use the following equation:

1 CBM = 1 m³ = 35.3147 cu ft

Don't worry about recalculating the units, though. You can easily change them in the container volume calculator. Centimeters, inches, or feet? They're all there. You may also compare various measures of volume, both metric and imperial, using our volume conversion calculator.

How to calculate CBM?

To calculate CBM, follow these few steps:

  1. Find the dimensions of your package in meters (length, width, and height).
  2. Follow the CBM formula and multiply all those values together.
  3. That's it! Finding the CBM is super easy and quick.

Make sure that all of these values are in the same units! When in doubt, use our length conversion calculator.

Once you know the CBM of a single carton, you can easily find the total volume of your consignment. All you have to do is multiply this value by the quantity of cartons:

total volume = CBM × quantity

Total weight vs. volumetric weight

If you decide to input the weight of a single carton, our CBM calculator for shipping will automatically return two additional values: the total weight and the volumetric weight of your cargo. What is the difference between the two?

Total weight describes how much your cargo weighs. You can obtain this value by multiplying the weight of a single box by the number of cartons in a consignment.

Volumetric weight, on the other hand, is an artificial measure of how much space the shipped item occupies. Imagine the following situation: you're traveling on a plane and take incredibly light luggage with you. In that case, you will be charged not for the weight but rather for the volume of the item.

You can calculate the volumetric weight of the consignment according to the following formula:

volumetric weight (kg) = length (cm) × width (cm) × height (cm) × quantity / 5000 (cm³/kg)

The 5000 cm³/kg value is called the metric shipping factor and may vary between freight carriers. Use the value labeled shipping factor of the calculator to change its value.

When estimating the shipment cost, many companies choose either total or volumetric weight, depending on which one is higher. This is called the Weight or Measurement Rule (W/M rule).

Both FedEx and UPS apply this pricing technique. Items of low density will typically be charged per kilogram of volumetric weight. Specific rates may, however, depend on freight carriers, origins, or destinations.

Also known as dimensional weight, volumetric weight typically favors shippers of heavy, dense goods and makes it more costly to dispatch lightweight but sizable packages.

How to use our shipping cube calculator: an example

  1. Determine the dimensions of one shipping box in your consignment. Let's assume it's 50 cm long, 80 cm wide, and 60 cm high.

  2. Weigh one carton. Let's say it weighs 35 kg.

  3. Decide how many boxes you want to ship. For example, your shipment can consist of 20 boxes of identical shape and weight.

  4. Calculate the CBM:

    CBM = 50 × 80 × 60 = 0.24 m³

  5. Calculate the total volume of your consignment:

    total volume = 0.24 × 20 = 4.8 m³

  6. Calculate the total and volumetric weight of your shipment:

    total weight = 35 × 20 = 700 kg

    volumetric weight (kg) = 50 × 80 × 60 × 20 / 5000 = 960 kg

    The total weight is lower than the volumetric weight, so you can expect to be charged according to the latter.

  7. Finally, choose the type of container in which you'd like to ship your cargo – for example, a 40′ Standard dry container.

    Our CBM calculator for shipping will automatically tell you how many boxes of such dimensions you can fit in it – in this case, 277.

Please note that the maximum number of cartons that fit in a chosen container is just an approximation. It is possible that due to the arrangement of packages in the container, some space will be left unusable, which will decrease the total number of boxes that fit into it.

Container types in the cubic meter calculator

Our calculator can determine the shipping limit of the following containers:

  • 20′ Standard Dry Container: capacity 1165 cu ft

  • 40′ Standard Dry Container: capacity 2350 cu ft

  • 40′ High Cube Dry Container: capacity 2694 cu ft

  • 45′ High Cube Dry Container: capacity 3043 cu ft

Dry containers 20' and 40' (general purpose) are sufficient for a broad class of cargo. Usually made of steel or aluminum, they have precisely the same width and height and differ only in length. These are, by a significant margin, the most common types of containers.

Around one foot taller, high cube dry containers are considered to be a bit more suitable for voluminous but light articles.

Both of these types of containers are multi-modal. That means they can be transported by ship, train, barge, and truck. Consequently, they allow for door-to-door transportation solutions.

How to calculate CBM when your package is irregularly shaped?

When it comes to standard, rectangular packages, getting the correct CBM measurement is not that hard and incredibly simple with our shipping container volume calculator.

However, if your package is irregularly shaped, you need to be sure that it does not exceed the limit of the box in any dimension. Imagine, for example, that you would like to ship an extraordinarily long but narrow consignment.

To solve this problem, you must identify your shipment's longest, widest, and tallest parts. In other words, you need to figure out the dimensions of the smallest cuboid that your package can fit into.

If you're interested in calculating the volume of other geometric shapes, take a look at our volume calculator, which gives the volume of the most common three-dimensional solids.

Why the CBM calculation for sea shipment matters?

CBM calculator may be a useful tool when shipping freight via sea. As a matter of fact, most of the ideas in the cargo shipping industry come from maritime freight and only later entered air or rail transport.

Maritime transport remains the cheapest and most important form of cargo. The efficiency of this form of transport has been achieved mostly by containerization. Starting from the mid-twentieth century, the containers have standardized dimensions.

Cargo containers enable automation. Goods don't need to be handled manually anymore. Once containers are delivered to a port, they may be loaded onto trucks or trains and shipped to various locations.

The effects of standardized shipping containers on the economy went far beyond the cargo industry. Since the 1990s, they have transformed entire economies, which were not held back by large expenses of ocean-going freight.

In the modern economic system, where each country can be connected to global value chains, both as a supplier and a consumer, the cargo shipping rules level the playing field and cement the terms of exchange.

You can learn about the determinants of maritime transport costs in recent years from this great report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

As of 2013, 90% of international trade is seaborne and shipped in 700 million containers. More and more of them are equipped with remote tracking systems and are easy to navigate with computerized logistics systems.


What is the CBM of a 40 ft container?

The CBM of a 40-foot container is about 69 cubic meters. A standard 40 ft container is about 2.4 m × 2.4 m × 12 m. To calculate CBM, we need to multiply the dimensions together to get 69.12 cubic meters.

How do you calculate CBM with inches?

To calculate CBM with inches:

  1. Find the dimensions of your package in inches (length, width, and height).

  2. Compute their product according to the CBM formula:
    CBM = length × width × height.

  3. Divide the result by 61,024 to convert the volume from cubic inches to cubic meters.

Is CBM the same as volume?

Yes, CBM is the same as volume. In logistics, CBM is a measurement of the volume of a package or shipment in cubic meters. Although you can express volume in any other units and CBM only in cubic meters, they represent virtually the same thing.

Carton properties

Cargo properties


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