LTL Freight Class: Everything You Need to Know

Less than truckload shipping has become one of the favorite transportations 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. It is based on several haracteristics and pricing differentiation. All commodities are divided into 18 classes, varying from Class 50 to Class 500, and a unique NMFC code is attached to each commodity. The higher the class, the higher the rate per hundred pounds shipped is.

How to find out 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 just choose the right option from a list or it will be automatically generated for you. Otherwise, you can ask a manufacturer, who would know the product’s freight class in detail. You can view the full list of classifications in the NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) tariff.

What factors define your 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. The density 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.


Some items, like boxes, are easy to stack and move. However, not all freight can fit the box due to the size, shape, or weight, and that’s why stackability is one of the important characteristics when classifying your freight shipment.


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


Liability is the probability of freight theft or damage. 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. When the classification is based on liability, density must also be considered.

Ultimately, defining the right LTL freight class is extremely important 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.

Why is LTL freight class important?

Understanding your freight class directly affects the shipping costs. The higher freight class is, the more transportations prices increase. To get a maximum precise LTL quote, it is recommended to thoroughly take and register all the measurements of your cargo. 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. That is, the LTL carriers can sometimes re-weigh your boxes or pallets and check how much of a space they take in a truck. So, it is better to make all the calculations yourself and use multiple freight class defining tools.

At GoShip, you will be connected 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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