Net weight vs gross weight is surely not a debate to decide which measurement type is essential as both terminologies are used to provide different weights. Many of us have been learning about these weights since our youth.

However, most of us are still unsure about their real meaning. And while these weights are vital even if you’re going to buy groceries, they play an essential role in international shipping. 

So let me guide you on what net weight, gross weight, and most importantly, the tare weight is, and how they’re going to help you out whenever you need any international shipping services.

Quick Guide

Importance of Weights in International Shipping

In the shipping and freight industry, a declaration of consignment or container weight is necessary. That’s why it is one of the primary components of the bill of lading. Any mishap in the container’s weight can cause several issues. Why? It is because it affects several areas and even the lives of the onboard staff. 

It is also noticed that heavyweight containers are consistently below the lightweight containers to assure ship’s stability. For example, if you have two containers, “A” and “B.” The container “A” weighs around 25 tons, while container “B” weighs 27 tons. In that case, container A will be kept above container B.

Failure in weight management could lead to disastrous events similar to “MSC Napoli” back in 2007. The container ship went through a flooded engine and structural failure. Despite several other factors, the leading cause of the incident was the vessel being overweight.

On investigation, it was found that the ship was carrying a load that surpassed its capacity. The wrong declared weight was with a difference of 20 tons only, but the sinking caused millions of dollars loss.

International shipping relies on counting three weights to ensure minimal risks when delivering the products by sea, and they are as follow:

Each container has to pass through this process to make sure there’s no sign of overloading. While some people do have a limited understanding of net weight and gross weight, they are often confused about tare weight. Nevertheless, many people are unaware of all these units, and they believe it’s all the same.

Net Weight

Simply put, the net weight is said to be the weight of the product only. It is measured without the product’s packaging or container. The net weight is also the total number of stock or goods loaded on the vessel, excluding the container weight, packaging weight, or cargo protection equipment weight, such as shelves or pallets.

Net Weigh Explained with Example

Assume yourself as a shoe exporter from China. Each pair of shoes without its packaging weighs 1.14 kilograms (2.51 lbs). So, if you’re delivering 2,000 pairs of shoes, the products’ overall net weight must be 2,280 kilograms (5,026 lbs). Hence, the declared net weight of this shipment will be 2,280 kilograms or 2.28 metric tonnes.

Net Weight Calculation with Reference to Example

Gross Weight

Gross Weight Explained with Example

To understand gross weight meaning, let’s continue with the example of a shoe exporter. Remember, each pair of shoes weighs 1.14 kilograms, making the net weight 2,280 kilogram of total 2,000 pairs.

Now, of course, you need to send each pair in a different shoe box. So consider that each shoebox comes with a dustbag and paper envelope, all weighing approximately 250 grams.

That means each single pair of shoes wrapped or packed in a shoebox or packaging will weigh 1.39 kilograms (3.06 lbs). Therefore, making the total of 2,000 pairs of shoes and 2,000 shoeboxes of about 2,780 kilograms or 2.78 metric tonnes of total units (2,000 pairs of shoes).

But that’s not it.

Remember, there’s a shelf/pallet to keep the goods, and it weighs around 600 kilograms. Besides, there’s even a 20-foot container weighing 1,800 kilograms when empty. That means the total gross weight will now be 5,180 kilograms or 11,420 lbs.

Gross Weight Calculation with Reference to Example

Tare Weight

The tare weight, also known as the “unladen weight,” is the weight of an empty container. In the shoe exporting scenario, the tare weight will be 1,800 kilograms only per international shipping standards.

Actual Tare Weight vs Average Tare Weight

The actual tare is the actual weight of the container, excluding packaging or pallets weight. On the other hand, average tare weight is the sum of the total tare weight of multiple containers divided by the number of containers.

For example, there are six containers, each with the following tare weight:

The total tare weight of all 6 containers will be = 10,200 (1,100 + 1,200 + 1,300 + 2,100 + 2,200 +2,300) kilograms

Now, dividing the total tare weight by the number of containers will give you the average tare.

If the gross weight doesn’t reveal the tare weight, you might need to rely on the calculations.

How? Well, take the gross weight and minus the net weight, and you’ll get the tare weight. But this is just an incomplete explanation of finding the tare weight. Keep in mind that you have to add all the contents present in the container in gross weight.

Tare Weight Calculation with Reference to Example (Step-by-Step)

However, you have to perform 3 steps for getting the correct tare weight.

The above calculations are performed using the standard “Tare Weight” formula, which requires weight subtraction of all the contents available inside the container from “Gross Weight” to get the container weight only.

However, some departments acquire the container weight from the records professionally and as per international shipping standards. Or they simply weigh the empty container before loading goods inside it, and later add net weight together with packaging weight, shelf weight, or any other content that comes with the shipment to obtain gross weight.

Standard Formulas to Find Net Weight, Gross Weight, and Tare Weight

The previous calculations were to help you find the correct net weight, gross weight, and tare weight right “from scratch” (when net weight, gross weight, and tare weight were unknown). Nevertheless, you can use their standard formulas if two out of three values and their computation are already available beforehand.

Standard Net Weight Formula

Standard Gross Weight Formula

Standard Tare Weight Formula

If the above shoe exporting example is again considered to get your desired weight through standard formulas, you might get a different value for Tare Weight. Sometimes, the shelf weight and packaging weight can be deemed as “Tare Weight” and excluded from “Gross Weight.”

For instance,

Net weight vs gross weight are two different ways to measure weight, but both are important in the shipping industry, as net weight defines the product weight, whereas gross weight informs you about the total weight of the cargo along with a container.

Likewise, the tare weight is also essential as it showcases the true weight of the container only. Knowing these weights helps you when it comes to paying taxes and other charges. On the other hand, the cargo ships are never overloaded, which eliminates several dangerous risks to the people and shipment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about gross weight, net weight, and tare weight, answered for your better understanding:

Q1. What are net weight and dr weight?

Net weight is the weight of every matter inside the container or can, including solid, liquid, and gas. In comparison, dr weight refers to solid material weights only, which are inside the container.

Q2. Does net weight need to be exact in the documents?

Yes, the net weight has to be exact in the paperwork. Otherwise, it will affect the gross weight, causing trouble later in the shipment.

Q3. What is net weight ounces?

It is important to understand that items are measured in net weight. While liquid products are measured in fluid ounces. Therefore, the term net weight ounces or NET WT.OZ is a mass measurement to know how heavy the liquid product is.

Q4. What is Verified Gross Weight (VGM)?

The Verified Gross Weight or VGM is the cargo weight that includes bracing weight, dunnage weight, and tare weight of the container. According to SOLAS, the shipper has to mention VGM on the shipping document (bill of lading) before loading the vessel.

Q5. What is the difference between KERB weight and tare weight?

The term “KERB” is specifically used to define a car or vehicle’s weight without travelers or luggage. Contrarily, tare weight is the term used to determine the empty container weight. Both terminologies have the same concept but are utilized to define the weight of two separate objects

Q6. What is the difference between payload and tare weight in shipping?

Payload defines the maximum weight limit of a cargo that a single container can carry. Payload excludes the tare weight. In contrast, tare weight is the weight of an empty container.

Q7. What department is responsible for weighing the shipment?

The shipper includes and sends the net weight and gross weight in the bill of lading or under the shipping instructions to the shipping line.

Q8. What is the meaning difference between cargo and container?

Cargo is a word used to refer to products, which are ready to be transported, whereas a container is an item itself to keep and deliver the products safely from one point to another.

Q9. What is dunnage?

Dunnage is the packing material wrapped around the goods for protection purposes. It can be anything from packing peanuts to bubble wrap.

Q10. What is bracing?

Bracing means using any materials or techniques used to prevent the load from vertical movement. Without accurate bracing, the load can fall over the blocks.

Final Words

We hope this guide to gross weight, net weight, and tare weight can be of help to you. If you find anything confusing after reading this guide, welcome to leave a comment below, we’ll answer your questions in no time.

We are Jingsourcing, a leading sourcing company based in China, dedicated to helping business owners import and wholesale products from China. If you need help in importing from China, don’t hesitate to CONTACT US.

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