What is CBM? How to Calculate it?

The term “CBM” is frequently used in the business of transporting goods from one country to another by air, sea, or land. CBM, which stands for “cubic meter,” is a commonly used unit of measurement in shipping that establishes the cost of freight.

In this article, we’ve gathered all the information you require on CBM so that you can precisely measure your cargo and calculate your shipping costs.

What is CBM?

The freight volume of a shipment for both domestic and international freight is measured in CBM or cubic meters. The width, height, and length of the shipment are multiplied to determine the CBM measurement.

It clarifies how much space your cargo will occupy on a ship, air travel, or truck, which in turn defines the cost of shipping.

All three types of shipping, including air, sea, and land transportation, use CBM.

Conversion rate from CBM into Kg

 The conversion rate depends on the shipping method (air, road, or ocean).

  • By air: 1 CBM = 167 Kg
  • By road: 1 CBM = 333 Kg
  • By ocean: 1 CBM = 1000 Kg

What is CBM in Shipping?

CBM stands for Cubic Meters and is the most commonly used measurement unit for the volume of shipments all over the world.

CMB, or Cubic Meter, is the unit used to calculate the volume of the entire cargo. In simple terms, CBM is the metric volume unit that specifies how much space the package will require.

How to Calculate CBM?

CBM = length x width x height

This is the formula for calculating your cargo volume in CBM (m3).

  • Assume you have a 3-meter long, 3 meters wide, and 3-meter high carton. The volume is then 3 x 3 x 3= 27 m3.
  • If you have 5 identical cartons in a single consignment, simply multiply the CBM by the total number of cartons to get the total volume –  27 x 5 = 135m3.
  • If the cartons are not the same size, calculate the CBM for each carton separately and add the total.

How to use CBM to calculate freight?

Conversion rate from CBM into Kg

The conversion rate depends on the shipping method

  • By air: 1 CBM = 167 Kg
  • By road: 1 CBM = 333 Kg
  • By sea: 1 CBM = 1000 Kg    


1 CBM is equal to 1 tonne, or 1000 kg, in terms of ocean freight pricing. This makes figuring out CBM for LCL shipments fairly simple. For easy reference, the following table converts kilograms to cubic meters for ocean freight:

  • 1 kg = 0.001 CBM
  • 10 kg = 0.01 CBM
  • 50 kg = 0.05 CBM
  • 100 kg = 0.1 CBM
  • 200 kg = 0.2 CBM
  • 500 kg = 0.5 CBM
  • 1000 kg = 1 CBM


For air cargo, a different formula is used then for ocean freight. The commonly used equation is length (cm) x width (cm) x height (cm) 6000 = volumetric weight (KG)/1 CBM 166.6666 KG.

This conversion will be used in every calculation for air freight, so it’s important to remember this general guideline:

167 kg = 1 CBM

How do you calculate CBM for irregularly shaped packages?

You may rarely have to use an irregular package for shipment reasons. Because these packages lack symmetrical dimensions, the conventional CBM formula is not applicable.


CBM = Maximum Length x Maximum Width x Maximum Height

How do you calculate CBM for cylindrical-shaped packages?

Cylindrical packages are extremely valuable to certain traders who deal in unusual products. Oil traders, for example, used cylindrical containers because they provide better packaging and transportation solutions.


CBM = x r2 + h

Factors Affecting CBM rates

There are a lot of other factors that are taken into consideration while arriving at the CBM rate for a container to be shipped. Some of these include:

  • The port charges

Different ports may have different port charges. These fees are paid to the port authorities in exchange for the use of their various facilities and equipment for loading and unloading shipments.

  • Type of shipment

A shipment is typically classified as either dry or frozen. A refrigerated container is required to transport frozen goods. As a result, its costs are significantly higher than those of a dry container shipment.

  •  Currency Adjustment Factor (CAF)

CAF is a surcharge levied on customers to compensate for fluctuations in currency rates between markets. It is a form of risk management for the ocean carrier in the event of adverse currency fluctuations. Depending on the volume moved, the customer may occasionally be eligible for preferential CBM rates.