Saturday, February 5, 2011

DIM charges - Big Changes with FedEx and UPS

If you ship with FedEx or UPS, there was a big with rates you should be aware of – and this is not just the usual annual rate increase.

The DIM factor FedEx and UPS use is changing, from 194 to 166 for U.S. Domestic air and ground packages (applies to ground packages 3 cubic feet or larger) and from 166 to 139 for many international services.


The concept of Dimensional Weight is widely used as a uniform way to establish a minimum charge for the cubic space a package occupies.

Dimensional weight, also called “DIM” weight, is used because the space a package takes up on a delivery vehicle may cost more than the shipping charges for the package’s actual weight. You should calculate dimensional weight for every shipment, compare that to its actual weight, and use the greater of the two to determine your shipping cost. Using the carrier’s free packaging is one way to make sure DIM charges are kept in check.

For domestic air services, the package’s billable weight is either the actual or dimensional weight of the package—whichever is greater. For ground packages, the greater of actual or dimensional weight applies to packages measuring 5,184 cubic inches (three cubic feet) or greater.

If you ship larger packages, near the DIM threshold it is likely your overall shipping costs will increase. The amount of the cost increase will depend on the number and weight of your shipments.

Here’s a note we received from a local “small package expert” that explains the change in more detail.

The DIM calculation did change this year.

It went from 194 down to 166.

Here is how it works… Express packages are always affected by Dimensions. If the size (dimensions) are greater than actual weight you will be affected by DIM and will be charged the higher of the 2 rates, actual vs. DIMed rate.

Ground shipments are only affected by DIM if they are over 3 cubic feet in size or 5,184 cu inches. Then the same thing happens, you are charged the higher of the 2 rates.

Here’s the calculation:

Length x Height x width = x

Then take x and divide by the DIM divisor of 166 = equals the DIM weight

If the Dim weight is higher than the actual you get rated on the higher of the 2 rates.

Here’s an example: 15lb actual weight, zone 4 shipment with measurements of 25x22x20

If billed at 15lb rate is $8.52list rates

When you factor the dims, it comes out to 11,000/166 = 67lbs and the rate is $23.36

With the old 194 factor it would have been lighter therefore cheaper at 57lbs for $21.22

The DIM change really affects you if you have lightweight large items… plastic parts, lightweight parts with a lot of overpackaging…etc

What to do about it? Talk to you local Fed Ex or UPS sales reps – they may be willing to discuss developing a customized DIM calculation formula that may ease the pain of the change.


Provider of ecommerce order fulfillment and pick pack distribution services for startups.