Defining & Determining Class

A freight class refers to the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) and is the category of freight as defined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA).  The NMKC is a guide used to classify all the commodities shipped and handled by the motor carriers in North American.  The commodities are assigned one of 18 different classes, from a low of 50 to a high of 500, based on their density, stow-ability, handling and liability.  The NMFC also includes rules and packaging requirements for each type of commodity to ensure adequate protection for products moving in the LTL motor carrier service.  The class is vital in determining shipping costs.

When determining a freight class all four transportation characteristics (density, stow-ability, handing and liability) are important, but the biggest factor in determining the class is density.  In general, the denser the commodity is, the lower the freight class.Class Table

To the right is a freight class chart.  The PCF is the pounds per cubic foot.  When the PCF of the item being shipped is greater than the number in the first column of this chart the class will usually be the corresponding number in the second column.

There are online calculators available to help determine freight classes of your freight logistics provider can help you determine the class.  However before you start it is important to know what thing will determine the class of an item.  Below are some steps to help determine the class of your freight.

  • Determine the basic description of your freight –  be able to describe what material the item being shipped is made of
  • Know what kind of container the item will be shipped in – packaging types include pallets, drums, reels, crates, tubes, bundle, etc.
  • Know whether the item you are shipping will need a liftgate
  • Does the package contain hazardous materials
  • Know the packages measurements – length, width and height
  • Know the packages weight – sometime this must be estimated
  • Determine the density of your shipment by calculating the pounds per cubic foot – several calculators can be found online or your logistics provider can help with this

Now you are ready to find an online calculator to determine the freight class of your shipment, or can contact DALKO Resources.


  • Be aware that you may estimate the weight and dimensions of a package, but the carrier will  weigh it after it has been picked up.  If the item falls into a different class than you have specified you may be liable for any extra charges.
  • It is very important to put the full description and the NMFC number on your bill of lading before shipping.  This will help ensure you get charged correctly, avoiding time and cost of getting the shipment re-rated properly.

For more information on freight classification and the National Motor Freight Traffic Association please visit their website at