Ways To Determine Your Freight Class

The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) has made some significant changes to the less than truckload (LTL) classification system, one being the introduction of an 11 tier density breakdown. The density category now has a class 65 for heavier shipments. Packaged commodities, also known as shipments, are grouped into 18 possible classes from class 50 to 500.

Determine Your Freight Class

Policies and guidelines regarding packaging requirements are regulated by the Commodity Classification Standards Board (CCSB). Furthermore, it is the Classification Resource Committee (CRC) that submits proposals to NMFC policies in suggesting changes to cargo information. The NMFC distinguishes between these four transportation measurements:


The density is measured in pounds per cubic foot. To calculate density, you should measure the dimensions of your shipment in inches including the overhangs. Remember to divide the volume by 1728 inches per cubic foot. Find the weight of the shipment using a calibrated scale. Use this formula: Density = Mass/Volume


Handling determines how difficult it is to load or unload the cargo. Shipping instructions are affected by factors like fragile warnings, forklift restrictions, hazardous materials, or the two-person handling label. Hand loaded cargo is classed higher than mechanically lifted ones due to the time-consuming labor.


Stow-ability factors in shipments that have uncommon dimensions as they are difficult to load onto the trains. The cargo must be stacked into the trailer with no extra space to spare or else it counts as lost revenue. The three categories are, stackable/load bearing, oddly shaped, or stowing restricted.


Liability explains what to do in case you receive freights that are damaged, lost or stolen. Fragile and perishable items come with their own requirements in transit. Carriers are concerned with expensive items, damaged goods, or spoiled food items since they are susceptible to liability charges.

The NMFC is used to set the initial prices of LTL transports. Commodities belonging to one of 18 different classes are assigned a specific class number, as stated before, to decide if they are low-class or high-class shipments. This process determines the freight’s rate and carrier liability costs. It also accounts for up to 8,000 commodity descriptions, as the industry standard for carriers.

There are four ways to find out the proper class for your commodity:

  • Buy an NMFC Book from the NMFTA store which costs up to $310.00
  • Buy an account for the NMFC ClassIT system priced at $328.00
  • Buy an interpretation guide from the NMFTA, priced around $30-$450 per block of 25
  • Talk to another LTL carrier for advice related to these types of purchases

The NMFC is responsible for comparing freight shipping in interstate, intrastate, and foreign commerce industries. The NMFC helps simplify negotiations between carriers and shippers to evaluate the movement of goods across America. Lastly, they cover the Bills of Lading for filing government claims. Their standards are particularly detailed, to ensure bulk packages are handled in a safe manner.

Justin Bright – CEO Brighter Logistics

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