Understanding Freight Classification

freight classificationEvery piece of freight receives a classification before being loaded onto a common carrier or line haul shipper. These classifications are defined by the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) and range from class 50 to class 500. This sets a universal standard for determining shipping costs. We’ll explain the concept of classifying freight and define the four parameters that determine the correct freight classification.

Freight Class Classification Explained

There is a total of 18 freight classes. Basically, the lower the category number the cheaper the shipment. The class may also determine what type of trailer or truck to expect. Each class lists specific parameters. Class 100, for example, is for freight that includes items like boat and car covers, caskets, and wine cases. The freight must also fall between 9-10.5 pounds per cubic foot.

The 4 Parameters that Determine Freight Class


Divide the freight’s mass by its volume. It’s important that the measured density is accurate. Any part of the freight that even slightly bulges outward can completely throw the calculation off.


Carriers prefer freight that is a perfect square or rectangle. Irregular dimensions create unused spaces in the truck. Empty spaces mean lost revenue, especially for LTL truckload services.

Handling Requirements

Does the freight contain goods that may require special handling? Will it compromise adjacent freight in the event the freight becomes damaged or leaks? Special handling requirements may affect cost.

Liability Exposure

High-valuable items create a higher liability for the carrier. The higher liability requires more insurance. A freight consisting of, say, solid gold bars or electronic equipment, is more likely to attract thieves than a freight containing plastic ware.

We’ll Determine Your Cargo’s Freight Class

Contact Machine Transport if you require freight assistance. We may recommend that you adjust your freight so it fall into a specific classification. Falling into a specific freight class can dramatically reduce your overhead.

Edited by Justin Vorhees

Freight Classification and Shipment

Serving Manufacturing Industries Throughout North America