Freight class or NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) is a shipping industry standard and grouping system developed by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA). It is used for interstate, intrastate, and foreign (Mexico and Canada) commerce movement of cargo.

Transportation companies that use or post in their contracts with shipper’s tariffs including commodity descriptions, classes, rules, packaging specifications, and bills of lading must participate in the NMFC. The rules of NMFC do not apply to transportation companies that are not participants.

How is Freight Class determined?

As defined by the NMFTA “Commodities are grouped into one of 18 classes — from a low of class 50 to a high of class 500—based on an evaluation of four transportation characteristics: density, handling, stowability, and liability. Together, these characteristics establish a commodity’s transportability.”

By analyzing commodities based on the four transportation characteristics and ONLY based on those characteristics, the NMFC provides both carriers and shippers with a standard by which to begin negotiations and greatly simplifies the comparative evaluation of the many thousands of products moving in today’s competitive marketplace.

Cargo Characteristics Explained

Density: An item’s density is determined by the ratio resulting from how much weight (lbs.) per unit of volume (cubic foot) your cargo has. The higher the density, the lower the class and ultimately, the lower the cost. Carriers prefer to move freight that is heavy and doesn’t take up a lot of space since this translates into being able to fit more cargo in the truck.

Stowability: How the cargo can be arranged with other freight in the transport vehicle. This characteristic takes into account hazardous materials that might not be able to be transported along with other hazardous or non-hazardous items, also it takes into consideration cargo with odd or non-uniform shapes that make it difficult to load cargo around them or on top of them.

Handling: This relates to the level of difficulty or ease with which a piece of cargo can be handled as it is loaded and unloaded from terminal to terminal. It pays close attention to the dimensions, fragility, and packaging of the cargo.

Liability: Liability considers the probability of the shipment being damaged or stolen or damaging other adjacent freight; it also considers its perishability of it.

Below is a table with examples illustrating the 18 classes:

Class Name
Weight Range Per Cubic Foot
Class 50Nuts, bolts, steel rods, or dense bagged materials such as flour or concreteOver 50 lbs.Lowest
Class 55Bricks, cement, mortar, hardwood flooring, cloths or rags, magazines, copy paper35 – 50 lbs
Class 60Car accessories & car parts, steel cables, used tires, stone blocks, glass, moldings30 – 35 lbs
Class 65Car parts & accessories, bottled beverages, books in boxes, conveyors, chocolate in boxes, electric cords, tile22.5 – 30 lbs
Class 70Newspapers, wooden pencils, machinery, caskets, unassembled furniture, food items, automobile engines15 – 22.5 lbs
Class 77.5Tires, bathroom fixtures, garments, shirts/pants, snowplows13.5 – 15 lbs
Class 85Crated machinery, transmissions, clutches, doors, CDs/DVDs, motorcycle engine12 – 13.5 lbs
Class 92.5Computers, monitors, refrigerators and freezers, gas-powered generators, cabinets, kiosk or ATMs10.5 – 12 lbs
Class 100Vacuum, boat & car covers, canvas, wine cases, caskets9 – 10.5 lbs
Class 110Cabinets, framed paintings & artwork, table saw, metalworking8 – 9 lbs
Class 125Small household appliances, pictures/posters in boxes, exhibit booths, vending machines7 – 8 lbs
Class 150ATV, jet skis, motorcycles, assembled wooden furniture, workstations6 – 7 lbs
Class 175Clothing, couches, stuffed furniture, metal cabinets5 – 6 lbs
Class 200TVs, aircraft parts, aluminum table, packaged mattresses, snowmobiles4 – 5 lbs
Class 250Bamboo furniture, engine hoods, mattresses and box springs, unassembled couch, plasma TV3 – 4 lbs
Class 300Wood cabinets, tables, chairs, model boats, kayaks/canoes, chassis2 – 3 lbs
Class 400Deer antlers1 – 2 lbs
Class 500 (Low Density or High Value)Bags of gold dust, ping pong ballsLess than 1 lb.Table

Why Rreight Class Accuracy is Crucial to LTL Carriers and Shippers

Freight class only applies to LTL shipments and gives carriers and shippers a common ground for pricing and understanding freight costs. Unlike truckloads, LTL shipments often may contain a variety of products on a single pallet, each with potentially unique characteristics. Freight classification creates a fair, shared standard for pricing that freight.

Classify Freight Right, the First Time!

If freight is improperly classified, it can mean frustrating repricing, quick-turn corrections, and uncomfortable conflicts with the customer. That’s why it’s important to get freight classified right the first time. Moreover, LTL freight specialists need to be able to plan around loads conformed by cargo with different classifications.

Understanding and properly noting freight class is essential in pricing your freight correctly and moving your cargo safely to your destination. At Promptus we have expert staff to guide you with your domestic LTL shipments. Contact us; we’d be happy to assist you! Call us at 1-877-776-6799 or emails us at info@promptus.us.