What is Freight Class?

A freight class, or National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) tariff, is a standard and grouping system within the freight industry that describes overall transportability. These standards are set in place by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA), a nonprofit membership organization made up of motor carriers.

The freight class system is important to have in place because of the vast amount of daily shipments. Keeping track of and properly accounting for the different truckloads (and what to charge) can get complicated. This system helps to simplify the process and provides a common ground between shippers and carriers. The freight class system also helps to smooth over freight rate negotiations and overall logistics. While this system is mainly used for brokers in the industry, having a general understanding is beneficial in quoting a shipper properly.

What Factors Determine Freight Class?

The NMFC freight class is ultimately determined by the overall transportability. Transportability is determined by evaluating four primary metrics: freight density, ease of handling, liability, and stowability. These factors are valuable information for shippers and the freight carrier alike, especially those with LTL or Less-than-truckload freight. The metrics are such that by considering the loads density, stow-ability, handling, and liability you are able to properly evaluate the freight class. This will help you understand if your load is considered low density by looking at the chart and comparing the ranges.

Types of Freight Class

Here we have included a list of the different NMFC classes and their weight ranges. You will also find a description of items that would commonly fit that class for each NMFC code to help give you a better idea of the different freight classes. You can utilize this table as your metrics for a freight class calculator to better judge pricing for freight shipping cost.

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Understanding Density-Based Freight Class

In today’s world we have seen a change in freight pricing; this used to be based on weight and is now more commonly based on freight density. Freight density is actually the space that an item occupies in relation to its weight. Weight is still a factor, but no longer the complete picture. To come up with the freight density of an item you could use a density calculator or just take the overall weight divided by the size volume not in cubic inches but in cubic feet. The higher the volume density of an item, the lower the assigned class. To the opposite side of that, a higher freight class will be given to items with a lower density.

This has become a common method to determine LTL freight class because it more accurately accounts for the overall load and the space that it takes up,as well as the weight. With that in mind, the end price of the shipment will commonly be based on whichever is greater: the dimensional weight or the actual weight.

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