LTL Freight Class: Everything You Need to Know | GoShip

LTL Freight Class: Everything You Need to Know

Posted on:
Mar 06, 2019

Less than truckload shipping has become one of the favorite transportation modes among retailers. It is characterized by high capacity and affordable shipping costs. While the general concept of LTL is easy, understanding the freight class may be complex.

What is the LTL freight class?

LTL freight classification is a system created by NMFTA (National Motor Freight Traffic Association) to categorize different types of cargo. This classification relies on several characteristics and pricing differentiation. All commodities are divided into 18 classes, varying from Class 50 to Class 500. A unique NMFC code is attached to each entity. The higher the class, the higher the rate per hundred pounds is.

How to determine your LTL freight class?

Most of the latest online LTL shipping services like GoShip suggest computerized freight class calculators. Once you’ve entered shipment information, you can choose the right option from a list, or we will automatically generate it for you.

Otherwise, you can ask a manufacturer, who would know the product’s freight class in detail. However, this approach doesn’t guarantee precise freight class identification and typically takes longer. Sometimes, it can prevent you from applying for spot shipments, so consider using digital tools for identifying freight class.

Why is LTL freight class important?

Understanding your freight class significantly affects the shipping costs. The higher the freight class is, the more transportations prices increase. To get a precise LTL quote, you have to take and register all the measurements of your cargo thoroughly. Due to the LTL shipping specifics, you’ll share the trailer’s space with several partners whose items might belong to the different freight classes.

The LTL carriers can sometimes re-weigh your boxes or pallets and check how much space they take in a truck. If cargo measurements don’t match carriers’ calculations, they may request additional charges. So, it is better to make all the calculations and use multiple freight class defining tools.

What factors define freight class?

Essentially, there is a set of criteria upon which carriers classify their freight. Primarily, the cargo group depends on the density, dimensions, and other additional characteristics.


The density is the space the item occupies comparatively to its weight. It is an essential measure for determining freight class. Typically, the freight density calculator divides the weight of the item in pounds by its volume in cubic feet. Your product’s volume in cubic feet is length x width x height/1,728, where you measure all dimensions in inches.

Freight density is higher for stackable boxes and lowers for sensitive cargo that requires more packaging materials. Also, density may vary depending on specific freight characteristics, such as breakability or spoilage.


This factor determines how stackable your items are and whether you can locate them using less truck space. If your products are dense enough, you can sometimes refer them to a lower freight class. Thus, you’ll save shipping costs and optimize the delivery process.

Some items, like boxes, are easy to stack and move. However, not all freight can fit the package due to the size, shape, or weight, so stackability is one of the crucial characteristics when classifying your freight shipment.


Most freight is loaded with mechanical equipment and poses no handling difficulties. But some cargo requires special attention due to weight, shape, fragility, or hazardous properties. Therefore, a classification represents the ease of handling or difficulty of loading and carrying the load.

You may apply for additional services based on the freight class recommendations and your items’ nature. Extra services provide a wide range of physical assistance operations to handle your cargo.


Liability is the probability of freight theft, damage, or loss. Perishable goods or hazardous items are classified based on liability and assigned a value per pound, which is a part of the carrier’s liability. Carrier services consider density a vital variable when the classification is based on liability.

Defining the right LTL freight class is crucial for a seamless and smooth shipping experience. The incorrect classification can bring a lot of stress and waste your money and time. Make sure you have double-checked the information about your load before transporting them to avoid any further confusion.

Identifying freight class with GoShip

Our digital platform can assist you with determining the freight class to organize your shipment correctly. We aim to make your transportation affordable to ensure proactive and frequent shipping. At GoShip, we can connect you with numerous LTL carriers that can ship freight of any class. Try using our online free quote tool to start shipping as soon as possible.

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