How to Calculate Ocean Shipping Costs

Ocean freight handles both large and small cargo.
Ocean freight handles both large and small cargo. (Image: Felipe Dupouy/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Ocean shipping is when a large container ship transports cargo overseas. With global trade now more extensive than ever in human history, ocean shipping is easier for individuals and small companies to send products and services as well. Shipments also send by air freight, but ocean shipping provides economical options. However, the process is slower to send your shipments across the ocean than to use air freight. To obtain your shipping costs, you need a few simple calculations and quotes from various shipping agents.

Things You'll Need

  • Freight scale
  • Tape measure

Weigh your shipment. You may need to use a freight scale for this, if you do not have access to one, do your best estimate. For ocean shipping, size generally is an important factor over weight. Add together the weight of every package for the total shipping weight.

Measure the height, length and width of the total shipment. If this is too difficult, measure each package in the shipment individually and write these figures next to the weight of each package on a sheet of paper.

Multiply the height by length by width (in feet) to find the total cubic feet of the shipment. Divide this number by 35.314 to get the total number of cubic meters in your shipment.

Contact an ocean freight shipping company such as Worldwide Shipping or World Class Shipping. Provide them with the shipment's weight, size and number of packages as well as the port of origin and destination.

Ask if your shipment needs a full container or a partial container by speaking with the shipping agent. The rates vary depending on whether you need a full 20 foot container, 40 foot container, or less than a full container.

Ask the agent about possible customs, duties and taxes at your point of origin. Add this in to the total shipping costs.

Tips & Warnings

  • Get quotes from several agents before making your choice.

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