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Cargo Weight: Tare Weight Vs Gross Weight VS Net Weight

When it comes to the cargo weight, it is not the easy thing you think. But not complex. Whether choosing air, sea, or road shipping, the cargo weight is important.

All the shipping receipts and shipping documents mentioned the cargo weight. In most situations, the freight forwarder gives the shipping cost according to the cargo weight.

The cargo weight can divide into three types: tare weight, net weight, and gross weight. This blog will discuss the various calculation ways of cargo weight and their meaning, it can help you calculate your cargo weight for maximum efficiency accurately.

What is the net weight of shipping?

The net weight of the items or products is its actual weight without packing and container weight.

For example, when we consider a can of beans, the weight of the contents of the can is considered the net weight. Therefore, the net weight will include the beans and all the items preserving the beans in the can such as any liquid in the can.

How to calculate the net weight of cargo?

The cargo net weight formula is the total weight (the cargo gross weight) minus tare weight.

What does tare weight mean?

The tare weight of items called unladen weight is the most basic type of weight. It is the weight of any empty container or actual cargo packing without goods inside. It is equally important to calculate the weight of the empty container and pack it when delivering cargo in international shipping.

In logistics, the tare weight helps freight forwarders to estimate local fees, customs fees, and other shipping expenses related to the cargo. How to calculate tare weight? The formula is Tare weight = Gross weight – cargo net weight.

The tare weight has another advantage is to ensure load shipping vessels without overloading them. It depends on how the cargo ship and what constitutes the gross weight of those vessels. If you ship cargo by sea, the tare weight is the weight of the container holding the cargo, not the whole vessel. If goods are shipped by road, the tare weight will be the weight of the trailer or tractor hauling the items.

What is gross weight?

Gross weight refers to the total weight of goods and their packaging materials. This includes any boxes, crates, protective materials, pallets, or other packaging used during transportation. Gross weight is typically used to calculate transportation costs because it reflects the entire cost of the goods during the shipping process, including packaging and shipping fees.

Its formula is gross weight is equal to tare weight add the net weight. To the aim of transportation, it is necessary to know the three weights related to transportation to avoid making the wrong paperwork. According to the different shipping methods, the meaning of the gross weight has a slight difference.

Air freight the caption, gross weight including the tare weight, net weight of the product, aircraft, passenger weight, etc.

Water freight

For this shipping mode, the gross weight equals net weight add the tare weight.

Road and Rail Freight

The gross weight equals net weight add the tare weight of the product and the weight of the vehicle.

tare weight vs gross weight

Why the cargo weight is so important?

When related to exporting e-commercial products, weight plays an important role. For example, the buyer buys the product, they just think about the weight of the product itself.

But when related to the logistics, the freight forwarder or shipping company shipping the product must take the package weight into account. In other words, they must know the weight that the vessel carried and make sure that the weight of the goods they carry does not exceed the specified standard.

If the gross weight of the cargo is over the weight that an airplane or ship can carry, it is prone to happen ships sink, and planes crash. This is why the total weight of the cargo is so important.

What are the differences between gross, net, and tare weight?

Here is a simple example to illustrate the difference between three cargo weights.

Suppose you want to buy a box of apples that weighs 10 kilograms. If you want to know the net weight of the apples, you need to take out all the apples and weigh them. Let’s say the weight of the apples is 8 kilograms, and the weight of the box (tare weight) is 8 kilograms.

If you want to know the gross weight of the package, you need to add the weight of the box itself and the weight of the apples together. If the weight of the box itself is 2 kg, then the gross weight of the package is 10 kilograms.

This is the difference between them. If you need to know the goods’ weight, you should use net weight. If you need to calculate the cost of the entire transportation process, you should use gross weight.

What are the international shipping terms for weight?

Verified Gross Mass

VGM is the abbreviation of VERIFIED GROSS MASS. It is the sum of the gross cargo weight and the tare weight of the container, including packaging and dunnage. Misdeclaration of container gross mass poses risks to domestic and foreign personnel, inland and sea goods, and equipment, and leads to accidents, and the verification of container gross mass (VGM) regulations aims to reduce the occurrence of such accidents.

New regulations for VGM include the flowing:

1. The shipper needs to provide the weight of the container.

2. Two weighing methods have been approved to determine the weight of the container.

3. The terminal operator must ensure that the weight of the container has been verified before boarding the ship.

Gross Vehicle Mass

GVM is the total weight the vehicle can carry, including its weight. In other words, refers to the technically allowed maximum mass proposed by the automobile manufacturer (the total mass of the car when it is fully loaded).

Gross Vehicle Weight

The Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) is the total weight of a vehicle, including the weight of the vehicle itself, its passengers, cargo, fuel, and any other equipment or accessories. This weight is typically expressed in pounds or kilograms and is used to determine the vehicle’s maximum safe operating weight, as well as its suitability for certain types of roads and bridges.

Gross Combination Weight

The Gross Combination Weight (GCW) refers to the total weight of a combination of vehicles, including the weight of the towing vehicle, the trailer(s), and their respective loads. In other words, it is the maximum weight that a vehicle and its attached trailer(s) are allowed to weigh when fully loaded, according to the regulations of the jurisdiction in which it is operated.

The GCW is an important factor to consider when towing heavy loads, as it determines whether the towing vehicle is capable of safely hauling the weight of the trailer and its cargo. The GCW limit is typically set by the vehicle manufacturer or by government regulations, and it may vary depending on factors such as the type of vehicle, the engine size, and the braking system. Exceeding the GCW limit can result in safety hazards such as loss of control, increased stopping distances, and tire failure.

Gross Combination Mass

Gross Combination Mass (GCM) refers to the maximum weight limit of a combination of vehicles, which includes the total weight of a towing vehicle, trailer(s), and any load they may carry.

It is a legal weight limit that specifies the maximum weight allowed for a particular combination of vehicles, as determined by the vehicle manufacturer, and relevant regulations set by the governing authority in a particular jurisdiction.

The GCM considers the combined weight of the towing vehicle, any trailer(s) attached to it, and the maximum load that can be carried in each vehicle. Exceeding the GCM can result in significant fines, penalties, or even loss of driving privileges. Therefore, it is crucial for drivers and operators to understand the GCM of their vehicles and to ensure that they stay within the prescribed weight limits.


The precise cargo weight is associated with shipping safety and determines the shipping cost. So, learning more about the difference between gross weight, net weight, and tare weight can reduce communication costs with a freight forwarder.

If you have any confusion about it, contact our shipping experts. Airsupply is the top freight forwarder in China, we have more than 10+ shipping experience in international shipping. Whether you want to ship cargo all over the world, or knowing any knowledge about transportation, contact us.

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