Key points:

  • The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) breaks down shipments into 18 different freight classes
  • The higher the class, the higher the cost of shipping. Freight class 50 is the lowest and least expensive, while class 500 is the highest and most expensive
  • Picking the wrong freight class for your shipment can lead to rapidly increasing shipping costs
  • Easyship can help you effortlessly manage shipping classes, start using easy-to-set-up automation to save time and cut costs today

Worried about picking the wrong freight classes for your shipments? This article explores which factors determine freight classes, breaks down examples, and details how to pick the right class for your goods. Plus, find out how you can manage your shipments with Easyship. Start setting up shipping rules in just a few clicks, automatically selecting the best value carrier for each order.

Understanding Freight Shipping Classes

Freight classes are defined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA), a non-profit organization that standardizes the freight transportation industry. The National Motor Freight Classification NMFC uses freight class as a method to analyze the transportability of goods.

Freight shipping classes are broken down into 18 defined categories ranging from 50 to 500. These determine shipping rates, handling fees and insurance costs for each shipment. This is based on four characteristics:

1. Density

The weight and dimensions of the cargo determine freight density. Overall, the higher the density, the lower the class and ultimately the lower the cost. While this may seem counter-intuitive, carriers prefer freight that is heavy and doesn't take up much space. This way, they can carry more freight, filling a container's capacity and ultimately make more money.

Divide the total weight of a shipment by the total cubic feet to calculate the density. Multiply the height, width, and depth of the shipment in inches to calculate the number of cubic inches. Make sure to measure the furthest points, including any parts that stick out.

To work out the density in pounds per cubic foot (PCF), first divide the freight's volume in cubic inches by 1728 to give you the order's volume in cubic feet. Next, divide the weight in pounds by the cubic footage, with the result giving you the density in PCF.

2. Stowability

This rates how a shipment can be arranged with other freight in a container. The key factors at play here are size and shape, as they will impact how easy it is for a carrier to store the freight shipment. Any abnormally shaped objects, fragile or hazardous materials that require special considerations can increase shipping rates.

3. Handling

An item's ease of handling as the freight is loaded and unloaded can impact the National Motor Freight Classification. The key factors here are the dimensions, fragility and packaging. Again, any items that require specific considerations or hard to process can increase shipping costs.

4. Liability

This breaks down the probability of a shipment being damaged, stolen or damaging other freight in transit. Less-than-load (LTL) carriers need to take into consideration how much your order will cost if lost or damaged. The higher the risk, including the potential to damage other freight, the higher the freight class can be.

Related post: Your Guide To Freight Shipping


Freight Class Chart

The freight class chart is a table that breaks down the different classes, their ranges, and the corresponding rates. Different commodities have a different combination of the four factors broken down above, which the NMFC codes list categorizes into 18 classes from 50 to 500. The list below breaks down the density of sample goods that are found in each class, from the lowest cost to the highest:

Class Name

Example Product

Weight Range Per Cubic Foot


Class 50 – Clean Freight


Over 50 lbs.


Class 55


35 – 50 lbs

Class 60

Car accessories & car parts

30 – 35 lbs

Class 65

Bottled beverages

22.5 – 30 lbs

Class 70


15 – 22.5 lbs

Class 77.5


13.5 – 15 lbs.

Class 85


12 – 13.5 lbs

Class 92.5


10.5 – 12 lbs

Class 100


9 – 10.5 lbs

Class 110

Framed paintings & artwork

8 – 9 lbs

Class 125

Vending machines

7 – 8 lbs

Class 150


6 – 7 lbs

Class 175


5 – 6 lbs

Class 200

Aircraft parts

4 – 5 lbs

Class 250

Plasma TV

3 – 4 lbs

Class 300

Wood tables & chairs

2 – 3 lbs

Class 400

Deer antlers

1 – 2 lbs

Class 500 (Low Density or High Value)

Bags of gold dust

Less than 1 lb.


Choosing the Right Freight Shipping Class

Picking the right shipping class for your products depends on several key factors broken down above. You need to measure and weigh your shipments accurately to ensure you are not getting overcharged.

The density and dimensions of the product will be crucial in determining the class. Selecting the wrong one can result in increased shipping costs or even damaging the freight. For example, if you are shipping a large package that weighs less than 50 lbs. It can be classified as class 100 rather than 85, which will increase costs.

While factors such as the product type, end customer's destination, delivery deadlines and shipping budget will influence your choice of shipping method. For shipping truckload LTL freight the density based on dead weight, divided by cubic feet is crucial. This will be used to work out the shipment's PCF for freight class calculators, resulting in the class number.

How to Manage Freight Shipping Classes

Managing freight shipping classes can be essential for your online store. It can have a huge impact on shipping costs, delivery timelines, and ultimately customer satisfaction. To manage shipping classes, Easyship can help you effortlessly set up shipping rules based on a range of shipment characteristics like weight, length, product type, speed, and destination.

Our tech will automatically select the best-value courier based on your preferences, helping you hack shipping in just a few clicks. By following the tips broken down in this post, you can optimize your shipping process. Start reducing shipping costs for your online store without the hassle of complex calculations.

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