What can we help you with?
< All Topics

Understanding Freight Class for LTL Shipments

What is Freight Class? 

In order to standardize commodity transportability, the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) uses freight class to categorize shipments into one of 18 classes. Each class assigns a number from 50-500 to a commodity. 

Freight class is only applicable during domestic United States shipments and cross border shipments between Canada and the United States. It is typically NOT considered in domestic Canada shipments. 

How is Freight Class determined? 

The NMFC accounts for 4 factors when assigning freight class: DensityStowability, Handling, and Liability. 

DensityDensity is calculated using weight and dimensions of an item. A higher density lowers the freight class, resulting in a lower overall cost. This is because a higher density means the item does not take up as much space in a truck, since it is small and heavy. 

StowabilityStowability determines the shipment’s arrangement relative to others items in the vessel.  This is important to consider with freight that could be hazardous, or has irregular dimensions could result in a higher freight class. 

Handling: Handling refers to the dimensions, fragility and overall difficulty in handling an item. 

LiabilityLiability is the probability of the shipment getting lost or damaged, as well as the possibility of damaging other freight next to it in transit. High value items and freight that is easily damaged will have a higher freight class. 

Why is Freight Class Important? 

It is important to note that the higher the freight class (50-500), the higher the price of the shipment. The shipper is responsible for indicating which freight class their shipment is. It is not the trucking companies responsibility. 

What can happen if I pick the wrong freight class on my truck shipment? 

Based on inspection, the carrier will correct the incorrect freight class and shift the charge accordingly.  

Typically, carriers will only raise your freight class upon inspection, not lower it. This means if you pick a freight class that is too low, you will still be assessed a higher freight class fee—and you’ll likely be assessed an additional freight classification fee for your error. Alternatively, if you pick a freight class that is too high, the carrier will not use a lower freight class and lower your fee.  

As the shipper it is very important that you get the freight class right on every shipment to keep costs down. Using the OpenBorder Shipping service allows shippers the peace of mind in knowing that their assigned freight class is accurate. 

Click here to use the OpenBorder Freight Density/Class Calculator.

Table of Contents