Today’s blog is part of our Freight 101 series — an introduction to freight classifications. Knowing freight classifications will save you time and money. Freight Classifications are used by shippers and carriers to obtain standardized freight pricing. They are established by the Commodity Classification Standards Board (CCSB), which includes three to seven National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) members. The NMFTA freight classification scheme is published in the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) tariff. It is crucial that shippers determine the correct freight class. Carriers use the NMFC tariff to determine their freight charge. An incorrect freight class = a costly reclassification adjustments.

There are 18 freight classes – ranging from class 50 (lowest cost) to class 500 (highest cost). Freight Class is based on four characteristics:

  • Density –  is determined by your products weight and dimensions. Freight class density is the pounds per cubic foot of your item. The higher the density of an item, the lower the class and cost. CCSB density guidelines assign classification 50 to freight that weighs 50 pounds per cubic foot. CCSB assigns classifications 70, 92.5, 175 and 400 to freight with densities of 15, 10.5, 5, and 1 pound per cubic foot, respectively. Freight less dense than 1 pound per cubic foot is classified as 500. CCSB value guidelines are one factor in carrier liability. Classifications 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, 400 and 500 are worth $1.11, $27.33, $41.04, $54.71, $68.38, $82.04, $109.40 and $136.76, respectively. The CCSB establishes packing rules for safely carrying freight in a motor carrier. Carriers are not required to use National Motor Freight Classification in determining rates, but the CCSB freight classifications explain the methods used to calculate shipping rates.
  • Stowability –  is determined by your products ability to be transported and/or “stowed” with other items. Most freight stows well in trucks, trains and boats, but some articles are regulated by the government or carrier policies. Some items can not be loaded together. Hazardous materials are transported in specific manners. Excessive weight, length or protrusions can make freight impossible to load with other freight. The absence of load-bearing surfaces makes freight impossible to stack. A quantifiable stow-ability classification represents the difficulty in loading and carrying these items.
  • Handling – is determined by the products ability to be handled while loaded/unloaded.  Most freight is loaded with mechanical equipment and poses no handling difficulties, but some freight, due to weight, shape, fragility or hazardous properties, requires special attention. A classification that represents ease or difficulty of loading and carrying the freight is assigned to the items.
  • Liability – is probability of freight theft or damage, or damage to adjacent freight. Perishable cargo or cargo prone to spontaneous combustion or explosion is classified based on liability and assigned a value per pound, which is a fraction of the carrier’s liability. When classification is based on liability, density must also be considered.

These characteristics establish a commodity’s “transportability.” The lower the freight class number the lower the freight charges.  The table below should be used for reference only. Please contact HNM Global Logistics to accurately classify your freight. Our goal is to help you avoid your shipment being re-classed by the carrier. You may also contact the NMFTA directly.

Class NameCostNotes & ExamplesWeight Range Per Cubic Foot
Class 50 – Clean FreightLowest CostFits on standard shrink-wrapped 4×4 pallet, very durable over 50 lbs
Class 55Bricks, cement, mortar, hardwood flooring35 – 50 lbs
Class 60 Car accessories & car parts 30 – 35 lbs
Class 65 Car accessories & car parts, bottled beverages, books in boxes 22.5 – 30 lbs
Class 70 Car accessories & car parts, food items, automobile engines 15 – 22.5 lbs
Class 77.5 Tires, bathroom fixtures 13.5 – 15 lbs
Class 85 Crated machinery, cast iron stoves 12 – 13.5 lbs
Class 92.5 Computers, monitors, refrigerators 10.5 – 12 lbs
Class 100 Boat covers, car covers, canvases, wine cases, caskets 9 – lbs
Class 110 Cabinets, framed artwork, table saw 8 – 9 lbs
Class 125 Small Household appliances 7  -8 lbs
Class 150 Auto sheet metal parts, bookcases 6 – 7  lbs
Class 175 Clothing, couches stuffed furniture5 – 6 lbs
Class 200 Auto sheet metal parts, aircraft parts, aluminum table, packaged mattresses 4 – 5 lbs
Class 250 Bamboo furniture, mattress and box spring, plasma TV 3- 4 lbs
Class 300 Wood cabinets, tables, chairs setup, model boats 2 – 3 lbs
Class 400 Deer antlers 1 – 2 lbs
Class 500 – Low Density or High Value
Highest Cost Bags of gold dust, ping pong balls Less than 1 lb

If you have questions or concerns about your freight class or if you need to quote a shipment, don’t hesitate to contact HNM Global Logistics  for assistance.