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Freight Class FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Freight Class?

What does NMFC stand for?

NMFC stands for National Motor Freight Classification®, which is determined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA).

What is the NMFC?

NMFC is a standard that provides a comparison of commodities moving in interstate, intrastate and foreign commerce. Every product or commodity is assigned a National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) code, which corresponds to a unique freight class number when it comes to Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) shipments, which determines shipping rates and fees.

What are the different freight classes and how are they determined?

Commodities can be grouped into 18 classes, ranging from class 50 to class 500 and are evaluated based on 4 transportation characteristics:

1. Density: Certain commodities have predefined freight classes, while others are density-based. Density is calculated by dividing the total cubic feet by the weight in pounds (Lower density leads to higher freight classes.)

2. Handling: The standard pallet size in the U.S. is 48×40 inches. Difficult-to-load items (e.g. heavy, lengthy, protruding freight, etc.) often carry a higher freight class, raising shipping costs.

3. Stowability: While most freight can be loaded using standard equipment, carriers may assign a higher freight class to freight that is challenging to stow, too heavy, fragile, oddly shaped, or hazardous goods.

4. Liability: A higher class may be given to a commodity that is more prone to be stolen, damaged, or cause damage to other freight.

Why is it important to correctly determine your freight class?

Unfortunately, a common practice among businesses and brokers is to deliberately underestimate the freight class in an attempt to secure a lower shipping rate and reduced fees. However, it’s crucial to note that carriers frequently reclassify such freight, leading to delays in your shipments and the potential waste of valuable resources, including your money and your time.

What steps should I follow to ensure I have an accurate freight classification and proper packaging?

Proper freight classification and packaging are important to minimize the potential for product damage during shipping and paying extra.

Click the “Learn More” button below to learn how to accurately classify and package your freight.

What happens if my commodity is reclassified after my product has shipped?

Instead of arguing with the carrier over the interpretations of your commodity and the NMFC class codes, you can calculate the freight density of your product.

How do I calculate my freight density?

  1. Measure the total cubic inches of your shipment (length x width x height). (Note: This includes the pallets and packaging too. Always round up).
  2. Convert that total to cubic feet (divide by 1,728).
  3. Determine the weight of the shipment in pounds.
  4. Divide the total weight by the total cubic feet of the shipment to get the lbs/ cubic feet or density.

Note: If you have several different pieces, complete the calculation steps above for each individual piece. Add the cubic inch measurements for the pieces together to get the grand total, then convert to cubic feet for a grand total before dividing by weight.

How do I know what class to use once I calculate my freight density?

NOTE: The graphic below is only an estimate and only applies to carriers utilizing density as the sole basis for their freight classification.

Please reach out to Gateway Transport so a knowledgeable freight agent can classify your product accurately.

Class NameNotes, ExamplesWeight Range Per Cubic Foot
Class 50 – Clean FreightDurable goods on a standard shrink-wrapped 4X4 pallet. Gravel, sheetrock, common building bricks, flour, and cornmealover 50 pounds
Class 55Bricks, cement, mortar, hardwood flooring35-50 pounds
Class 60Machinery in crates, school crayons in boxes30-35 pounds
Class 65Car accessories & car parts, bottled beverages, books in boxes, wood/cement roofing tile22.5-30 pounds
Class 70Luggage racks, food items, automobile engines, metal casings, car carriers15 to 22.5 pounds
Class 77.5Tires, bathroom fixtures, t-shirts/clothing13.5 to 15 pounds
Class 85Prepared food, cotton or synthetic fiber, bales, rolls, cast iron stoves12-13.5 pounds
Class 92.5Electric toothbrushes, computers (value up to $5/lb), refrigerators10.5-12 pounds
Class 100Prepared food, cotton or synthetic fiber, bales, rolls, cast iron stoves9-10.5 pounds
Class 110Cabinets, framed artwork, table saw8-9 pounds
Class 125Used household goods, boat covers, car covers, canvas, wine cases, caskets7-8 pounds
Class 150Small household appliances, and wooden furniture6-7 pounds
Class 175Clothing, couches stuffed furniture, fish tanks, aquariums5-6 pounds
Class 200Auto sheet metal parts, aircraft parts, aluminum table, packaged mattresses4-5 pounds
Class 250Bamboo furniture, mattress and box spring, plasma TV, computers (value up to $25/lb)3-4 pounds
Class 300Wood cabinets, tables, chairs set-up, model boats, stuffed animals2-3 pounds
Class 400Bags of potato chips, deer antlers1-2 pounds
Class 500 – Low Density or High ValueBags of gold dust, ping pong ballsLess than 1 pound

What else do I need to know about packaging?

The packaging provisions in the NMFC fall into three basic categories:

  • General packaging definitions and specifications.
  • Specifications for packages that have been approved expressly for the transportation of certain commodities.
  • Performance-based packaging criteria.

Ship smart and save with Gateway Transport, Inc.

Our Freight Agents are ready to take your call