How to calculate your sea freight rate?

Transporting cargo by sea is always giving the impression to be the lowest in cost. Even though it may be true in many cases. But some mistakes could reduce the gap and make it more expensive. Like choosing the wrong type of sea freight shipping service or maybe even the wrong shipping container type. Therefore, it is important to consider the type of service chosen, time of shipping, and equipment used
for your shipment at least before confirming a shipment to your service provider.

Calculate the volumetric weight of your shipment

The base of cost calculation in sea freight depends on the type of movement. In general, it is either CBM/Ton or container. For Bulk and Break-Bulk freight, it is in CBM or Ton, the same applies to LCL ( Less than Container Load) shipments. But when the cargo is containerized, it will depend on the shipping containers used.

For shipments calculated by Weight and Volume, in sea freight transport, the ratio is “ 1:1” which means every Ton equals one CBM (Cubic Meter). In formula to calculate the volume:

If the volume of a shipment is 10 CBMs and the weight is 5,000 Kgs (5 Tons) then the 10 CBMs are considered for cost calculations (the chargeable weight is the higher between volume and weight).

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How sea freight rate is determined

There are different points to consider when requesting a sea freight quotation. These are the most important ones:

POL (Port of Loading): Where will the sea shipment be originated from. Choosing the right “POL” is going to help in reducing the sea freight rates and pre-carriage (origin country trucking) costs.

POD (Port of Discharge): The seaport where the shipment will be released is a major game-changer for the sea freight cost. Freight rates will vary between carriers for the same destination port.

Commodity: The nature of the cargo itself is important. If the items require climate control we will have to use a reefer container, or dimensions are more than normal shipping containers height. It may need an open-top container which may double the price on certain occasions.

Shipping Container Type: There are many kinds of shipping containers. The most commonly used ones in sea freight are ( 20 ft, 40 ft, 40 HC, 20 RF, 40 RH, and 40 OT). Picking the right container for your cargo will save on the shipping costs big time.

Time of shipping: There are certain parts of the year where sea freight rates spike either because the basic ocean freight rates go up or when sea carriers apply extra charges like GRI (General Rate Increase) or some PSS ( Peak Season Surcharge) and congestion fees, … etc. Therefore, when planning your shipping, it is good to consider this thing to save on the shipping costs.

Example of shipping volume calculation

In sea freight, shipping costs can be either per CBM/Ton, per container (or TEU: Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit), or per shipment. Therefore it is important to calculate the volume and measure the weight properly. For example to move shipment by LCL (Less than Container Load): you will need to pay the freight, CFS charges, Bill of Lading fees, and documentation.

Weight: 7,500 Kgs (7.50 Tons)
Volume : 9.0 CBMs

Freight: US$ 75.00 per W/M (weight or measurement)
CFS charges: US$ 15.00 per W/M
Bill of Lading: US$ 100.00
Documentation: US$ 45.00

If the INCOTERM (International Commercial Term) Is FOB, these rates may be acceptable. But if it is EXW (Ex-Works), you will need to add trucking charges. Therefore, the INCOTERMS will decide the type of charges needed to find the total cost of shipping.

The shipping cost will be calculated based on volume (9.0 CBMs) since it is more than the weight.

Freight : US$ 75.0 x 9.0 = US$ 675.00
CFS Charges : US$ 15.00 x 9.0 = US$ 135.00

Bill of Lading: US$ 100 (per shipment)
Documentation: US$ 45.00 (per shipment)
Total charges: US$ 955.0

However, if we are using shipping containers. Then charges will be calculated based on per container, per TEU, or shipment. This is an example of 1 x 40 ft container:

Freight : US$ 1,000.0 / Container
BAF: US$ 650.00 / TEU
Origin THC: US$ 200.00 / container
Bill of Lading: US$ 100.0
Pre-Carriage: US$ 650.00
PSS: US$ 350.00 / container

Cost of shipping will be calculated based on container or shipment, no matter what the volume or weight is:

Freight : US$ 1,000.00 x 1 = US$ 1,000.00
BAF : US$ 650.00 x 2 = US$ 1,300.00 (the shipment is 40 ft which is 2 TEUs)
Origin THC : US$ 200 x 1 = US$ 200.00
Bill of Lading: US$ 100.00
Pre-Carriage: US$ 650.00
PSS : US$ 350.00 x 1 = US$ 350.00
Total Charges are: US$ 3,600.00

Tips for using Globitex sea freight calculator

With Globitex digital freight platform, all the headaches of the above calculations and choosing the right seaports will disappear. If you have an account with Globitex, requesting sea freight quotation is less than a minute. You will get a list of options in shipping costs and transit times which will make comparison very ease.


Also, if you are shipping by sea freight (LCL) service, calculating the volume weight and chargeable weight is no problem at all. All that you need to have are dimensions and weight only. Also, what’s worth mentioning is that generating your shipping documents is just 3 minutes and a few clicks away. There is a lot more to explore with Globitex. All that you need to do is to sign up for an account.

Find out how Globitex can make your shipping life easier and less costly

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Karim Nasser

VP at Globitex with more than 15 years of experience in shipping and transportation in Air, Sea, Land freight, and courier. Now for a couple of years, more into digital freight. I believe in a saying “ in shipping, we deliver hope not only shipments”.