Understanding Freight Classes

Understanding Freight Classes

Understanding freight class can go a long way in making sure you can accurately anticipate the shipment costs for transporting your goods. If you can determine freight class, you can more easily understand how a carrier views your shipment in terms of resources and cost. However, despite the importance of freight class, we often encounter many business owners who are new to the world of freight shipment and are unfamiliar with the term. In today’s article, we’ll give more background on the term and explain how to determine freight class.

What is Freight Class?

Freight classification is a standard that allows for the easy comparison of commodities that are being moved in commerce. Freight classification is determined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association, which publishes the National Motor Freight Classification® (NMFC®). Freight classes are designed to standardize shipment costs and are frequently used in LTL (less than truckload) shipping. There are 18 shipment classes ranging from 50 to 500, and the lower the class, the lower the shipment cost.

What Determines Freight Class?

There are four characteristics that determine freight class:


Density measures how much space an object occupies in relation to its weight. Determining how much room per pound your freight fills (pounds per cubic foot) is essential because freight that has a higher density and is more compact is less expensive to ship.


The value of a commodity affects its liability. If a good has a higher likelihood of theft or damage, or if it could possibly cause damage to surrounding freight, it is said to have a higher liability. Music equipment is more valuable and fragile, and would therefore have a higher liability rating than, for example, t-shirts.


Stowability refers to how easily your freight can be transported with other cargo. Freight that is packaged in boxes or crates is easier to pack inside a trailer or shipment container than items that are oddly shaped or packaged loosely. As a result, they would have a lower freight class and a resulting lower cost of shipment. Similarly, freight that is hazardous or flammable and has regulations that forbid it from being transported alongside certain other materials would also have a higher freight class.

Ease of Handling

The level of care is another factor used to determine freight class. The higher the level of care needed to handle a commodity during shipment, the higher the freight class, and the cost of shipment.

Comet Delivery Services

At Comet Delivery Services, we know how to determine freight class. Our team of experts has the resources in place to help you determine freight class for your commodities and select the most cost-effective means of transport for you. To learn more about freight class, and further explore our suite of transportation solutions, contact us today!

Call our 24 hour hotline: 1-888-266-3833 and find out how Comet can serve you and your customers.

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