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What Is Freight Class?

Various sized boxes loaded into the back of a truck

Not all LTL freight is created equal. Different commodities are categorized according to freight class, and this will affect your shipping rates. To properly calculate LTL shipping costs, all cargo is categorized into 18 freight classes. This article will go over the basics of freight class, the 18 different freight classes, how freight class is computed, and why it’s important for shipments. 

What is LTL Freight Class? 

LTL Freight class is used to categorize commodities transported through LTL freight shipping. Freight class uses a numeric classification system defined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA). There are 18 different freight classes under National Motor Freight Classification, ranging from Class 50 to Class 500.  

Freight Class  Type of Commodity/Freight  Weight  

per cubic foot 

50  Durable freight that fits on a standard 4’×4′ pallet  50+ lbs. 
55  Bricks, cement, hardwood flooring, construction materials  35–50 lbs. 
60  Car parts and accessories  30–35 lbs. 
65  Car accessories and parts, boxed books, bottled drinks  22.5–30 lbs. 
70  Car accessories and parts, auto engines, food items  15–22.5 lbs. 
77.5  Tires, bathroom fixtures  13.5–15 lbs. 
85  Crated machinery, cast iron stoves  12–13.5 lbs. 
92.5  Computers, monitors, refrigerators  10.5–12 lbs. 
100  Car covers, canvas, boat covers, wine cases, caskets  9–10.5 lbs. 
110  Cabinets, framed art, table saws  8–9 lbs. 
125  Small home appliances  7–8 lbs. 
150  Auto sheet metal, bookcases  6–7 lbs. 
175  Clothing, couches, stuffed furniture  5–6 lbs. 
200  Sheet metal parts, aluminum tables, packaged mattresses, aircraft parts  4–5 lbs. 
250  Mattresses and box springs, plasma TVs, bamboo furniture  3–4 lbs. 
300  Model boats, assembled chairs, tables, wood cabinets  2–3 lbs. 
400  Light fixtures  1–2 lbs. 
500  Ping pong balls  <1 lb. 

Why is Freight Class Important? 

To get an accurate less-than-truckload quote, you will need to find your cargo’s freight class. Remember that in LTL shipping, carriers load and unload cargo multiple times. Different freight will also be transported in the same trailer as your pallets. LTL carriers need an idea of each pallet’s specifics: dimensions, weight, packaging, durability/fragility, and whether or not other items can be stacked on top. The freight class helps carriers determine how efficient moving a particular shipment is. In short, by figuring out how much effort is needed to transport LTL freight, carriers can quote how much your shipment will cost. 

How to Calculate for Freight Class? 

LTL carriers will often reweigh your cargo based on the space it takes in a trailer. Getting your freight class wrong means that you will have to pay up more or less than what you’re anticipating. To get an accurate quote, you first need to determine the correct freight class your commodity falls under. Here’s what you should know: high-density items have a lower freight class. Low-density items have a higher freight class. The lowest freight class (class 50) has the lowest price per pound. Denser items (class 500) are the most expensive. 

NMFC classification is based on four factors:

1. Density

Density is the key factor in determining freight class. Density refers to the weight per cubic foot per piece. In simpler terms, this is the amount of space occupied by an item in relation to its weight. Freight with a higher density falls under a lower freight class because they’re more compact and are easier to ship. Higher density cargo is also cheaper to deliver compared to low-density and bulky cargo. 

2. Stowability

This factor refers to how easily a commodity can be loaded and transported with other goods.  

Factors that make freight difficult to stow include: 

  • Unusual and oddly shaped dimensions 
  • Hazardous goods 
  • Flammable 
  • Perishable 
  • Very heavy 

3. Handling

This refers to any special care or attention needed to transport your cargo. Fragile or hazardous items will fall into a higher freight class and will cost more to ship. Size, shape, and weight also affect the ease of handling. 

4. Liability

Liability covers the likelihood of freight damage, theft, loss, or damage to other loads. If an item is hazardous, combustible, or perishable, it will have a higher liability rating and higher freight class. 

Calculating Freight Class  

Get an Instant Quote with GoShip.com 

As you can see, finding the correct LTL freight class for your shipping is complicated. Getting a single factor wrong can mean huge discrepancies in shipping costs. We recommend going with easy and convenient self-service freight platforms like GoShip.comGoShip.com automatically calculates for your freight class when you get a quote. All you have to do is enter your package and delivery details! 

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