What Is Tare Weight in Freight Shipping?

What Is Tare Weight in Freight Shipping?

Tare weight is important in freight shipping. Here, we’ll explain what that is along with gross weight and the differences.

If you're new to freight shipping, you may be wondering what tare weight is.

This weight is important when calculating the total cost of shipping a package. In this blog post, we'll explain what tare weight is, how it's calculated, how it compares to gross weight, and how it's used in freight shipping.

We'll also provide some tips on how to reduce your overall freight weight and save money on shipping costs. Read on!

Tare Weight, Defined

Tare weight, sometimes referred to as unladen weight, is the weight of an empty shipping container, like a tractor-trailer. The tare weight is what's left after the shipment has been removed, and it can vary depending on how you're shipping your items.

The tare weight is what allows shippers to determine the complete cost of shipping the items. To calculate the tare weight of your shipment, you will need to know what kind of commodities are being shipped and therefore what kind of container you'll need to use.

What Is Gross Weight In Freight Shipping?

When shipping goods, gross weight refers to the total weight of all the items in a shipment, including the shipping container. The gross shipping weight is ultimately what determines what you'll need to pay for shipping.

How Is Tare Weight Calculated?

Tare weight is calculated by taking the gross weight, sometimes referred to as the laden weight, and deducting the weight of the shipment itself.

For example, if a tractor-trailer weighs in at a gross weight of 81,255 pounds, and the freight inside is 1,200 pounds of peanuts, then its tare weight would be 81,055 pounds.

Once the weight of the peanuts has been deducted from the gross weight, what you're left with is what your tare weight will be.

What Is Tare Weight vs. Gross Weight?

Tare weight and gross weight are basically the same types of measurement, but there is a distinction between the two.

Tare weight, also known as "tare mass," is what your shipping container weighs when it's empty. Gross weight, on the other hand, is what your package weighs with all of its contents.

Let's look at an example to help clarify this difference: let's say that a 40-foot dry van shipping container weighs 41,000 pounds empty. This means that the tare weight of this container would be what it weighs - 41,000 pounds. In contrast, its gross weight would be what it weighs with a shipment inside – typically more than 42,000 pounds.

How To Reduce Weight in Shipping

While tare weight will remain relatively the same, there are things you can do to reduce your gross weight. One of the most effective methods is simply to remove what's called "non-essential packaging."

Putting items in individual boxes or bags can have a significant impact on what your gross weight will be. To show what this could look like, let's say that you're shipping an item with two pounds of packaging. If you decided to remove the packaging and consolidate what's inside, your gross weight could end up deducting the weight of separate boxes.

By consolidating what's inside your package, you're able to reduce what your shipping container would weigh. This will not only reduce what you pay for shipping, but it might also even allow you to ship the package via a less expensive service than what's typically offered.

Tare Weight FAQs:

Does tare weight include packing materials?

Although it is important to consider what commodities are being shipped and what container you're using, the tare weight does not include any packing materials used.

For example, if a shipping container has a gross weight of 30,000 lbs and the tare weight is 9,000 lbs., this means that around 21,000 lbs worth of goods are being shipped - not including any packing materials.

Does tare weight include fuel?

Tare weight does not include fuel. If you have a shipment that requires diesel but have to pay for it separately from what the shipper is charging, the cost of fuel will be added to what you're already paying.

Can you reduce your tare weight?

While as a shipper, you can't change a tare weight, the freight partners can do what they can to reduce it. For example, purchasing lighter weight vehicles for shipping and removing any extra specs that add weight can help reduce tare weight.

Is There A Maximum Tare or Gross Weight on U.S. Highways?

The maximum tare weight on U.S. highways is what's known as the "Federal Bridge Formula," which states what a truck can weigh when it's empty, according to its size and what has been loaded onto it.

In the United States, the Federal Highway Administration is what sets this limit for all trucks that operate exclusively on U.S highways, and what these trucks weigh is what the United States Department of Transportation has deemed the maximum gross vehicle weight.

A tractor-trailer with a capacity of 80,000 pounds is the maximum gross weight that can legally be carried across a U.S. interstate.

Remember that while this is what federal law states can be used as a maximum for U.S. highways, what your truck weighs also will depend on what your state's laws have to say about it. For example, in California, the maximum gross weight matches the federal law at 80,000 pounds, but offers certain freight exceptions such as cotton during certain months of the year.


While tare weight isn't easily adjusted, it factors into your shipping costs in the end to obtain your gross weight.

For this reason, it's important to use trusted, skilled freight transporters to get accurate cost calculations and ensure your shipments arrive quickly and safely to their destinations.   

At Coastal Cartage, our menu of shipping options allow you to customize your freight delivery for your unique needs, taking the guesswork out of your logistics and allowing you to focus on your business at hand.

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