The use of a correct Freight Class and NMFC are 2 very key components in getting the best possible freight rates. By using inaccurate or outdated information, you could be paying too much up front, or subjecting yourself to a nasty rebill after the freight has shipped. Here’s a brief description for both Freight Class and NMFC’s.

NMFC’s and Freight classes are proprietary information and we are forbidden to publish them here. However, we are happy to provide you with that information.


The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) is a standard that provides a comparison of commodities moving in interstate, intrastate, and foreign commerce. It is similar in concept to the groupings or grading systems that serve many other industries. The use of an accurate NMFC also lets the carrier know just what it is they are shipping, without having to open up your boxes/crates and do a physical inspection.

Commodities are grouped into one of 18 freight classes—from a low of class 50, to a high of class 500—based on an evaluation of four transportation characteristics: density, stowability, handling and liability. Together, these characteristics establish a commodity’s “transportability.” Typically, the lower the freight class, the lower the rate for shipping.

Density – The density, also referred to as PCF or Pounds per Cubic Foot is essential in helping to assign a proper freight class. Everything else being equal, the denser an item is, the less it costs to ship.

Stowability – Freight that is odd sized, has loading restrictions, is hazardous, has protrusions or excessive length, etc., are subject to a higher freight class than boxes that are neatly stacked on a standard 48×40 pallet.

Liability – Fragile, high value or other issues of liability are used in determining freight class.

Handling – As with Stowability above, freight that has unusual handling characteristics impacts the way freight class is determined. Commodities that have unusual or challenging handling are more difficult to move and can cost more to ship

When dealing with various commodities, you also need to know more specifically what the item being shipped is. At the time this was written there were 51 different categories just for ‘Chairs’, i.e. Barber, Cafeteria, Dental, Folding, Metal or Wood, and Upholstered are just a few examples of how detailed the information needs to be.

Freight Classes and NMFC’s do change! Global Source Logistics uses the most up-to-date program for accurately searching for the correct information. By using the proper freight class and NMFC, it eliminates the need of rebilling due to reclassification. If you use an incorrect freight class or NMFC, your shipment could be broken apart and inspected or delayed. If you don’t know yours, contact us or go to our NMFC Request Page.

Freight Class

Freight class is typically based on the density of the item(s) being shipped, and is one of the determining factors in getting an accurate freight rate. However, as outlined above, it also relates to the transportability of the freight. Here’s an easy explanation of freight class & density, and how it relates to the rate’s you pay.

If you are a manufacture of nuts & bolts as opposed to socks, a 1500 lbs shipment of nuts & bolts will take up far less space than the socks would and therefore cost less to ship, everything else being equal. Nuts/bolts general ship at a class 50, and socks could be either a class 100 or 150, depending upon the density. Using a chair as an example, folding chairs weigh the same whether they are folded or not, but take up far less space when folded and stacked, and would have a greater density. Same weight, but less space = lower shipping costs.

Another example of freight class is an automobile engine. If the engine is trapped to a pallet, it’s class 85, but safely secured in a crate, it’s class 70. Since it’s less likely to be damaged or cause damage to other freight by being in the crate, the carriers’ liability is less and they pass that savings on to you in the form of a lower freight class. There’s also the possibility they can stack a pallet on top of the crate, thereby maximizing the space in the trailer.

If you are in doubt of the freight class, contact Global Source Logistics and we’ll get the information for you. You don’t want to be surprised by getting a re-bill for using an incorrect freight class, and having additional freight charges.