How do I Calculate the Space I’ll need?

How to Calculate the Space you need

As the cost of less than container load shipping (LCL) is calculated based on the amount of space required in cubic metres (cbm) it’s important to know the total volume of your shipment.  Hopefully your supplier will be able to help you out with this but if not here are some tips:

Shipping goods in boxes

The most common way of shipping goods from overseas is in identically sized cartons.  If that’s the case then working out the volume of the shipment couldn’t be easier (unless your supplier just tells you!).

Multiply the 3 dimensions of the boxes together (in metres) and then multiply that number by the amount of boxes being shipped.  For example, if your boxes are 50cm x 30cm x 30cm and you’re shipping 25 of them then the volume is (0.50m x 0.30m x 0.30m x 25boxes =) 1.125cbm.

If there are different carton sizes then you can either do this calculation for all the like sized cartons and add the totals together or you can ask us and we’ll send you a volume calculator in Excel to help you.

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Shipping goods on Pallets

If your supplier intends on shipping your goods on one or more pallets then there is a simple rule to follow when it comes to establishing the volume.  As per the below diagram, the largest dimension is taken in all three directions.  If you are shipping one pallet (100cm x 120cm) and the height of the boxes is 100cm don’t assume that the volume is (1.0m x 1.2m x1m =) 1.2cbm.  On occasion, supplier’s can overhang the boxes over the side of the pallet which increases the volume.  In contrasting packing styles, if your supplier doesn’t go to the edge with their stacking you’ll be paying for empty space:


Unusually shaped goods

When shipping unusually shaped goods the largest dimension for length, width and depth will be used to calculate the volume:


You may also find this helpful:

How Much will it Cost to Import My Goods?

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If you have any questions about establishing the volume that you need then contact us on 0203 384 0498 or


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