The Importance of Freight Class When Shipping Goods

What You Need to Know About Freight Class

Freight class can tell you a lot about a commodity, including what it’s made of, its weight per cubic foot, what its packing requirements are, and the cost to ship it. Freight classification and NMFC codes were created to standardize the shipping process, but it can still be difficult to class your own commodities. Here’s what you need to know about shipping classifications and freight classes.

What is NMFC?

First, NMFC stands for National Motor Freight Classification. The NMFC is a shipping classification system created by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association. Your Transportation Service Providers use this system to compare commodities being transported. Interstate, intrastate, and international moves are all classified using this standardized system.

How freight class is determined

Simply, a commodity’s freight class describes its “transportability.” To determine the class, four elements are assessed:

  • Density: A measure of weight per cubic foot (check out our post on how to measure freight)
  • Stowability: What is the size and shape of the commodity?
  • Ease of handling: What kind of care is necessary?
  • Liability: Includes the price per pound and if the commodity is susceptible to theft, damage, or perishability.

After these characteristics are evaluated, the commodity will be grouped into one of 18 freight classes (click the link for a handy chart) ranging from 50 (low) to 500 (high).

What are the most common classes?

Here are some examples of commodities that fall under the common freight classes of 60, 70, 85, 92.5, and 100:

  • Class 60 (30-35 pounds per cubic foot) ­– Car parts and accessories, crated machinery, glue, bottled water
  • Class 70 (15-22.5 pounds per cubic foot) – Food items, car parts, and accessories, automobile engines
  • Class 85 (12-13.5 pounds per cubic foot) – Automobiles engines, cast iron stoves, crated machinery
  • Class 92.5 (10.5-12 pounds per cubic foot) – Computers, monitors, refrigerators, ice machines
  • Class 100 (9-10.5 pounds per cubic foot) – Calculators, wine cases, canvas, furniture

Why freight classification is important

Freight classification simplifies and standardizes many elements of the shipping process. A commodity’s freight class determines its packing requirements, ensuring that your goods are well protected and shipped safely. It is also used to calculate shipping cost, which is why it’s important to be able to accurately assess a commodity’s class. Knowing the freight class of your goods will help you get an accurate shipping estimate. If you get the freight class wrong, your shipment will need to be re-classed, which can affect pricing. The shipping classification also provides procedures for interline settlements and the filing and disposition of claims.

Determining freight class can be a complicated process – Approved Freight Forwarders can lessen the burden by doing it for you. Contact us here and we can help you get started with “classing” your freight the right way.

We also offer FAK rates for our Ocean Freight clients! This will cut down on the time spent trying to properly identify your freight class. Request a free consultation and start moving forward toward a better way to ship LCL freight!

Learn About our FAK Rates for Hawaii