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Dimensional Weight Calculator

Created by Julia Żuławińska
Reviewed by Bogna Szyk and Jack Bowater
Last updated: Jan 18, 2024


Welcome to the dimensional weight calculator! In the next few minutes, you will find out how to calculate dimensional weight. You will also learn how FedEx, USPS, and UPS dimensional weight calculators work and which courier delivery services you should choose.

The price of shipping varies depending on the weight and size of your package. Dimensional weight is a term connecting these two variables. Cost also increases with the distance between you and your parcel's place of a destination. In the United States, there are 8 zones. The more of these zones your parcel crosses, the more expensive it will be.

Want to find out more about package transportation? Check out this CBM calculator for shipping.

What is and how to calculate dimensional weight?

Transporting big and light packages is uneconomical for courier companies. They don't make much money when a truck is only able to fit a few large packages instead of many smaller ones. It's cheap for a customer, but it takes up a lot of space for couriers. That's why, in 2015, the concept of dimensional weight was created. Also known as volumetric weight, it's a measure of weight estimated from length, width and height. Each company establishes it according to a slightly different guideline. The general formula is:

DIM weight = (Length * Width * Height) / DIM factor , where

DIM factor or Dimensional factor is a number determined by each delivery company.

Imagine you want to send something to a friend. Let's say it's a standing coat hanger. It's quite a light object but also reasonably big. The shipping company will estimate the cost of shipping by weighing it, measuring it and calculating its dimensional weight, and comparing these two values. Even if your parcel weighs 10 pounds, if its dimensional weight is bigger, you will have to pay more.

UPS dimensional weight calculator

UPS uses two dimensional factors. Which one they use to charge you depends on how often you use UPS. Daily rates are for people that have scheduled a pickup and have a UPS agreement. If you ship from a UPS store or a UPS Customer Center, etc., and you do it infrequently, Retail Rates are for you.

This UPS calculator uses the following formulas:

  • For Daily Rates:

DIM weight = (Length * Width * Height) / 139

  • For Retail Rates:

DIM weight = (Length * Width * Height) / 166

There is also one more dimensional factor, used in countries that use centimeters instead of inches:

  • DIM weight = (Length * Width * Height) / 5000

Out of dimensional weight and actual weight, whichever is larger UPS will refer to as the billable weight.

There are also some size restrictions that are linked to additional costs. Your package shouldn't exceed 108 inches or 274 centimeters on its longest side. Also, it should weight up to 150 pounds or 70 kilograms.

FedEx dimensional weight calculator

FedEx's dimensional factor varies depending on the unit of length and weight. This FedEx calculator uses two formulas:

  • If choose the option of inches per pound, the DIM factor is 139 :

DIM weight = (Length * Width * Height) / 139

  • If your unit of choice is centimeters per kilogram, the formula is:

DIM weight = (Length * Width * Height) / 5000

It's important to check size and weight restrictions before deciding which shipping company to use. FedEx ships packages up to 150 pounds or 70 kilograms.

USPS calculator

Until recently, USPS was the cheapest option for customers. Dimensional weight applied only for zones five and up, and the dimensional factor equaled 194. In mid-2019 these terms changed.

Now, the USPS dimensional factor is 166.

  • DIM weight = (Length * Width * Height) / 166

A useful fact is that dimensional weight is not taken into account if your package is smaller than one cubic foot. However, a downside to using USPS is that the maximum actual weight of a package can't exceed 70 pounds.

Example of calculations

Remember that coat hanger we wrote about earlier? Let's compare its three dimensional weights. Let's say it had dimensions of 70 x 14 x 14 inches:

  • FedEx DIM weight = (70 * 14 * 14) / 139 = 99

  • UPS DIM weight = (70 * 14 * 14) / 166 = 83 - assuming that you ship from a retail location

  • USPS DIM weight = (70 * 14 * 14) / 166 = 83

UPS and USPS dim weights are smaller, so they would both probably be cheaper than FedEx. The cheaper option between UPS and USPS would depend only on the price rates that depend on distance. Let's assume that you live in New York and your friend lives in Seattle. The cost of shipping with USPS would be $196.61. The cheapest one provided by UPS would cost you $139.62. In this case, the most affordable option is UPS.

Now you know how to calculate dimensional weight. To make better decisions and save money, we recommend checking the price calculators of each company before sending your package. And before you go, check out our grocery calculator to check the amount of money you should spend on groceries per month to avoid sinking into debt.

FAQ

How can I minimize the dimensional weight of packages?

Some strategies to minimize the dimensional weight of packages include:

  • Check the size and weight restrictions before choosing to use the services provided by a certain shipping company;
  • Use lightweight materials that do not compromise the safety of the product;
  • Find custom packaging or packaging that includes tailored-to-product shapes; and
  • Explore the possibility of flat or foldable packaging when possible.

How to calculate dimensional weight in lbs?

In order to calculate your dimensional weight in pounds, you should do the following:

  1. Measure the dimension of your package: include the length, width, and height.
  2. Calculate the volume of your package.
  3. Find the corresponding dimensional factor, which is usually provided by your shipping company.

Your formula should look like this:

DIM weight = (length x width x height) ÷ DIM factor

What is best package for a dimensional factor of 3lbs?

The smallest package dimensions allowed for a dimensional weight of 3lbs are:

  • Length of 5 inches ;
  • Width of 3 inches ; and
  • Height of 23 inches.

Each of these dimensions should follow the guidelines for shipping companies such as FedEx, UPS, and USPS.

What is dimensional weight?

Dimensional weight is a pricing technique used by shipping companies to be able to give a value to any package from which a shipping cost can be determined. It can be calculated using the dimensions of your package (length, width, and height).

Julia Żuławińska
First, choose the units
Units
in/lb
Measurements
Length
in
Width
in
Height
in
Actual weight
lb
UPS
Rate
Daily Rates
Dimensional weight
lb
USPS
Dimensional weight
lb
FedEx
Dimensional weight
lb
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