More Shipping Terminology: Weights

Benefits of adopting a Transloader shipping method

When filling out shipping forms you might see line items for several different categories of weight. Not knowing which weight the form is asking for can lead to shipments being loaded onto a shipping line with a misdeclared weight. This could at the very least mean fines for you when the cargo is inspected at its departing or arrival at the shipyard. Worst case could mean a failure of your shipping container or even the total loss of the container off of a ship. Let’s look at the different weight terminology and see what the differences are.

Net Weight

Starting off with something that can be totally confusing, net weight can actually refer to two different things depending on the context. In the case of a shipping container, the net weight is the total weight of the cargo once it has been pack into the container. Excluding the weight of the container.

When speaking of the cargo, weight of all the cargo to be shipped. This excludes things like containers that the cargo might be packed into. For example: In the case of jars full of olives, the net weight refers only to the olives, not the jars they are packed in.

Gross Weight

Keeping with the same idea as net weight, gross weight can mean two totally different things depending on what you are referencing.

Gross Weight, when referring to a cargo shipment, means the weight of all the cargo (olives in our above example) as well as all of their shipping materials (the jars, pallets, boxes, etc.).

This shouldn’t be confused with the gross weight of a shipping container. IN this case we are talking about the gross weight of the cargo as well as the full weight of the shipping container.

Tare Weight

The tare weight is the weight of the empty shipping container. The tare weight is a fairly standard weight that can be referenced easily on the web. It goes by the size of the shipping container (20’ or 40’ for example.)


This weight simply references the amount of cargo that can safely be carried inside of a standard shipping container. One thing to remember about shipping containers; just because you have increased the size of container that does not mean you can increase the payload that is loaded into the container. It just increases the volume of the cargo that can be placed inside of the container.

Dead Weight

This term does not refer to cargo, but the carrying capacity of the ship that is going to be carrying the cargo. Dead weight is the amount of weight that a ship can carry taking into consideration all the cargo, people, equipment and supplies on board.

When shipping items internationally, choosing to work with experts in custom shipping crates and transloading can help you immensely. Contact the Cratex Group for any questions about transloading or industrial packing of your cargo!