Daniel Johnson

UPS, FedEx and DHL international shipping weight calculator

Below are some of the pains that eCommerce businesses may experience with international shipments.

Dimensional weight miscalculations

This will put your business in the awkward position of needing to contact every customer that places an order to collect extra money for shipping.

Losing money

Getting billed more than expected by shipping carriers may result in you not hitting your target margins or even losing money on orders.

Losing orders

You may end up losing orders due to not listing international shipping charges and forcing customers to call or email to get a shipping quote. The possibility of losing casual buyers is considerably increased when potential customers can find the same product on another website that displays the international shipping cost.

How to calculate dimensional weight

Rather than worrying about losing orders or money (and dealing with extra work from the potential problems listed above), you can avoid some of these issues by calculating international shipping weight and displaying the cost to your international customers. International shipping weight is calculated differently than domestic shipping weight; international shipments are calculated similarly to domestic overnight or 2nd-day air shipments. This is often a factor that comes into play when businesses are experiencing one or more of the potential pains listed above.

While almost every eCommerce business has their domestic rate, billable weight, and shipping charges calculating correctly, they may not have taken all the factors into consideration that differentiates international and domestic billable weight. Billable weight is the greater of the actual weight and dimensional weight (when applicable). One way to ensure you are always billed the actual weight on your domestic ground shipments is to only use boxes that are below 5,184 cubic inches. You may have to pack one shipment in multiple boxes, but you will save yourself a lot of shipping charges that you would be billed for otherwise.

One of the biggest disconnects in calculating international billable shipping weight vs. domestic billable shipping weight is dimensional weight. Depending on if a shipment is a domestic or international shipment, the dimensional weight will vary because the domestic dimensional weight factor is different than the international dimensional weight factor.

The dimensional weight factor is a value that all major carriers use to calculate the dimensional weight. The formula used to calculate dimensional weight is:

length (l) x width (w) x height (h) / dimensional weight factor

The dimensional weight factor for domestic shipping is 164, and the international dimensional weight factor is 139. You may not think that dimensional weight makes much of a difference now, but in the examples below, you will notice how big of a difference the dimensional weight can make in what you need to charge customers and what you will be charged by the shipping carrier.

International shipment dim weight

Example 1 Example 2 Example 3
Length: 12” Length: 16” Length: 51”
Width: 12” Width: 16” Width: 15”
Height: 12” Height: 16” Height: 12”
Cubic inches: 1,728 Cubic inches: 4,096 Cubic inches: 9,180
Dimensional weight: 13 lbs. Dimensional weight: 30 lbs. Dimensional weight: 67 lbs.
Actual weight: 20 lbs. Actual weight: 7 lbs. Actual weight: 40 lbs.
Billable weight: 20 lbs. Billable weight: 30 lbs. Billable weight: 67 lbs.

Domestic shipment dim weight

Example 1 Example 2 Example 3
Length: 12” Length: 16” Length: 51”
Width: 12” Width: 16” Width: 15”
Height: 12” Height: 16” Height: 12”
Cubic inches: 1,728 Cubic inches: 4,096 Cubic inches: 9,180
Dimensional weight: 11 lbs. Dimensional weight: 25 lbs. Dimensional weight: 56 lbs.
Actual weight: 20 lbs. Actual weight: 7 lbs. Actual weight: 40 lbs.
Billable weight: 20 lbs. Billable weight: 25 lbs. Billable weight: 56 lbs.

In writing this blog post, we hope to help give eCommerce businesses the knowledge and tools to properly calculate international billable shipping weight. While it may be a little overwhelming, this is something that can help increase your conversion and revenue by capitalizing on the daily international traffic landing naturally on your site. If you do not have the software or technology in place to calculate the correct international shipment billable weight, you can always meet with Zonos or another third-party vendor to discover the best international solution that fits your business.