What Freight Classes Mean for Your Business

What Freight Classes Mean for Your Business

November 9, 2022

Classifying your freight can be a serious headache. While the freight class system created by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) has played a critical role in the LTL shipping industry, its codes and references quickly become a difficult maze to navigate. How can you get a quick and accurate estimate for freight shipping when you’re not certain of which class it falls under to begin with?

We can start you off fast with an instant quote—all you have to do is provide a few details about your shipment without worrying about your freight class. Our instant quoting tool automatically figures the freight class for your shipment based on the size and weight you provide. After entering the details of your freight, you’ll see your freight class right alongside all your quote options.

If you’re not sure where you’re shipping to or from yet, you can call us to quickly estimate the freight class for your shipment.

How the NMFTA defines freight classes

At a glance, the purpose of the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) system is straightforward. It’s a universal language used to quickly communicate the difficulty of shipping a particular kind of freight. Currently, it includes 18 categories that can fall anywhere from class 50 (the easiest type of freight to ship) to class 500 (the most difficult type of freight to ship). This classification considers density, handling, liability, and stowability with the general expectation that a greater burden on the carrier means greater shipping expenses.

Simplifying freight class with dimensional rating

Traditionally, determining freight class for a shipment involved locating an item’s specific NMFC Number, then referencing long lists which showed the applicable freight class for each item. Some items would fall under a fixed class—meaning that it would stay the same freight class regardless of the item’s size or weight—while other items’ classifications would fluctuate depending on the shipment details like size, weight, and packaging type. Luckily, over time, LTL carriers have become more flexible and now widely accept either exact NMFC numbers and corresponding classes, or dimensional freight class instead.

Understanding how dimensional rating works

Dimensional rating is one of the most convenient methods for determining freight class, especially when compared to traditional NMFC standards, because it uses the length, width, height, and weight of the product to determine freight class. While it favors shippers with denser products (more air in packaging means wasted shipping space), it simplifies the classification process and tends to have fewer freight class calculation errors as a result.

Using the benefits of speed and simplicity through dimensional rating, our online tools can get you accurate information about your freight class and help you optimize your shipments for the best value and performance.