UPS Dimensional Weight Rules For 2016

Eric Pong
dimensional weight how to calculate- Floship

When it comes to sending your shipments across the United States, or the world, you need to use a reliable service to ensure it gets there.

Some of these services, like UPS, have certain rules when it comes to the parcels dimensions and weights and what you can be charged for them.

The rules for UPS in 2016 for instance are detailed below:

Billable Weight Versus Actual Weight

It is not as simple as placing your package on a set of scales to determine the weight that UPS will use to calculate your fee.
There are two types of weights the company uses:

  1. billable weight, and,
  2. actual weight.

Knowing how to calculate both can help you plan and allocate funds correctly for your shipping.

The actual weight is calculated by measuring the weight of the package and rounding it up to the next whole pound.
This is a fairly simple measurement and can be done using high quality scales, preferably digital.

Dimensional Weight

This weight is a little more complicated to calculate.
This measurement doesn’t just reflect the weight of the package, but also the size of it.
There are two calculations for this:

  1. Domestic shipments, and,
  2. International shipments

For both you need to know the cubic space of the package.

To calculate the cubic space of the package, measure the packages:

  • width,
  • depth
  • height of the package,

Next, round each–of the above three figures–to the nearest whole inches.
Then, multiple all three together and you’ll have your cubic space.
Now you can measure the dimensional weight.
For domestic shipments you take the cubic size and divide that by 166. Any fraction will need to be increased to the next whole pound.
For international shipments, you take the cubic size in inches and divide it by 139.
Again you will need to round up any fraction to the next whole pound.
The only exception to this is if you are importing from Canada where you treat it as if it were a domestic shipment.

Billable Weight

Now you have your actual weight and dimensional weight, you can calculate your billable weight.
To do this, compare your dimensional weight to your actual weight.
The larger of these two figures is then considered your billable weight.


There are also many considerations to make with your calculations:
Items that are in flexible packaging (i.e. plastic bags), UPS asks that the measurements be taken when the item is at rest.
However, they have discretion on the size of the parcel.

Any item that is irregular must be measured at the extreme points, rather than an average of the size. In addition, if your package has a tail, that space must also be calculated.

Finally, be sure that your package doesn’t exceed maximum size and weight limits.

Doing so will incur an additional fee and may mean your package is rejected for delivery.

A large package is when the length plus twice the width and twice the height exceed 130 inches.

Why Have These Rules Been Applied?

The main reason why these fees have been changed is that space is the real constraint when it comes to shipping.
Yet customers with a light product could be charged less for shipping something that takes up more space than another package.

For instance, a kilo of paper will take up less space than a kilo of feathers.

Therefore, UPS and others have decided to create a system that is more equal.
While this has led to one of the biggest price hikes in the industry, it also means that shippers are charging a fairer price than they were before.
Yet you don’t have to be a victim of these prices. There are ways to minimize the costs, such as:

  • Ensure that you minimize package sizes.
  • If you have multiple orders from one customer, combine them to save on space.
  • If you have a large shipping consignment, try to negotiate with UPS, you might be able to get a better rate.


Understanding these weight rules is important for cost saving and planning your business’ finances and delivery.
Consider making sure that staff are also aware of the costs, so they don’t needlessly waste company money by being uninformed about the latest packing practices.

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