What Is Dimensional Weight & Why Should You Care?

Posted in Shipping on Jun 06, 2023, tagged with freight shipping

What Is Dimensional Weight & Why Should You Care?

There are a lot of terms you may be unfamiliar with when it comes to shipping, including the term “dimensional weight”. If you’ve never heard of dimensional weight before, don’t worry—it’s not a term you’re likely to come across unless you’re shipping large items long distances, such as furniture or artwork. But even if you don’t know what it is or how to calculate it, dimensional weight can have a significant impact on your shipping costs.

In this post, we will explore:

  • What is dimensional weight
  • Why you should care about dimensional weight
  • How to calculate dimensional weight

Let’s dive in.

What Is Dimensional Weight?

Dimensional weight refers to the density of a package, or in other words, how large it is in relation to its weight. 

It is used by all shipping companies to assess if a package is disproportionately large relative to its weight (or vice versa) so that companies can charge accordingly. As a measurement, dimensional weight can be applied to any shipment, depending on company policy, but it’s most commonly applied when a package’s dimensional weight exceeds its actual weight.

TSI TIP: Dimensional weight has several different names. In addition to dimensional weight, you may see it referred to as DIM weight, volumetric weight, or cubed weight.

Why Should You Care About Dimensional Weight?

Dimensional weight may not seem that important, but it affects anyone sending packages or moving their stuff via shipping in two key ways:  

  1. It’s used to calculate shipping prices, impacting the overall cost of your shipment. 
  2. It can mean lower shipping costs if you keep your shipment’s footprint relatively small and don’t overpack your item(s). 

Basically, a large package that doesn’t weigh very much but takes up more space on the truck will be more expensive to ship than a smaller package that weighs the same amount because you are paying more to take up that extra space. This encourages customers to reduce packaging waste and allows shipping companies to transport more individual packages in one shipment, reducing their environmental impact and overall cost. 

If you’re moving locally, you don’t need to worry about dimensional weight. If you’re moving long distance and you’ve hired a professional moving company to transport your belongings, you also probably don’t have to worry about dimensional weight. 

If you’re transporting some of your belongings by freight or White Glove shipping, you will have to worry about dimensional weight. Look for a professional shipping company like TSI that has experience transporting these items—they’ll help you understand dimensional weight and which items in your household might have the biggest impact so you can get an accurate quote and plan your moving budget accordingly. 

How To Calculate Dimensional Weight

Calculating dimensional weight can be a bit tricky because the number used to calculate it (called the “DIM divisor”) varies between shipping companies. UPS uses 166 as their DIM divisor and FedEx uses 139, for example. 

To calculate dimensional weight, multiply the length by width by height of your package in inches to get the cubic size. Divide that number by the DIM divisor to get the dimensional weight in pounds. 

L x W x H = Cubic size of shipment
Cubic size of shipment / DIM divisor = Dimensional weight

If the dimensional weight ends up being higher than the actual weight of your cargo, your shipment will likely be priced using dimensional weight rather than weight in pounds. Chances are, this means it will be more expensive to ship. 

Some shipping providers have calculators on their website to assist with this process, whereas some simply provide you with the formula to calculate it yourself. If you need help calculating dimensional weight of your shipment, contact us for a quote. 


Dimensional weight is a metric that shipping providers use to figure out the cost of transporting large packages. Dimensional weight is important to you—the customer—because it can affect the price of your shipment if you use an excessive amount of packaging when packing your shipment.

Learn more about shipping large items:  

Long Distance Shipping with TSI

TSI can help you manage your long distance shipment, from dimensional weight to delivery. 

Learn more
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