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How to Calculate Dimensional Weight for UPS and FedEx Shipments.

Updated from original post on January 1st 2016 titled "UPS and FedEx Drop Actual Weight And Will Now Use Dimensional Weight For All Ground Shipments".

It’s that time a year again when UPS (United Parcel Service) and FedEx (Federal Express) announce their annual shipping rate increases. We get the added increase this year with the introduction of dimensional weight regardless of the shipping method used. Dimensional weight has been around for some time now, but mostly used for services other than Ground shipping prior to 2016. The only exceptions where the actual weight was not used for Ground shipments prior to 2016 were in cases where the dimensional weight was larger than 5184 cubic inches. But FedEx and UPS now coninute using dimensional weight for all shipments as of December 29, 2015.

How do I find out what the Dimensional Weight is?

We are all familiar with actual weight, but how is dimensional weight calculated? UPS and FedEx use the same calculation for domestic (within the United States) and international shipping as shown in the chart below.

UPS and FedEx Dimensional Weight Calculation

Domestic (within the United States) International

Length times Width times Height
Divided by 139

Length times Width times Height
Divided by 139

NOTE: Information based on the and websites as of 1/1/2021.

The Billable Weight (what would be used to calculate the actual shipping charge) would either be the higher of the Actual Weight or the Dimensional Weight.

Here’s an example of how it's calculated in 2021.

Let’s look at two different box sizes, with two different weights. For this example, we will assume the package is being shipped using UPS using their calculation shown above.

Dimensions (in) Actual Weight (lbs) Dimensional Weight (lbs) Billable Weight (lbs)

Box 1









Box 2









NOTE: Billable Weight is always rounded up. The 48 x 11 x 10 sized boxes were always billed at the dimensional weight, but used here to illustrate a large dimensional weight.

As you can see, smaller packages will have a better chance of being billed at the actual weight rather than the dimensional weight. It is only when you get into the larger box sizes that the dimensional weight will most likely be used.

Why did UPS and FedEx start using using dimensional weight on all packages in 2016?

UPS and FedEx want customers to be minimalistic with their packaging while reducing wasted space and start paying for the actual space they use on their airplanes, trains, and delivery trucks. With more people buying online, UPS and FedEx deliveries are increasing each year. This forces each carrier to maximize the efficiency of their current infrastructure while being compensated for the space used to deliver packages.

How did this affect customers of Shop In Today LLC in 2016?

Roughly 40% of our products are already shipped based on a dimensional weight. The remaining 60% are shipped in boxes where there is a negligible difference between the actual weight and the dimensional weight. In some cases where a product is less than 1 pound, we have starting using Priority Mail by the US Postal Service. We don’t see this change to dimensional weight as having a major impact on our current pricing, but we will adjust accordingly on a per product basis.

Our belief is that by offering free shipping provides a hassle free shopping experience for our customers. The price you see in your shopping cart is exactly what you will see at checkout (unless NYS Sales Tax applies to your order). Expedited shipping rates are always available in the shopping cart.


It is no surprise that UPS and FedEx increase their rates every year, but going entirely to a dimensional weight model for all shipments certainly surprised most people when it went into effect in 2016. Understanding how dimensional weight is calculated will make us all take a second look at the box size in order to reduce the overall shipping cost.

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