National Motor Freight Classification: A Basic Understanding
Learn how to use the NMFC code to determine the basic freight class of your shipments. Freight class is determined by density, freight stowability, ease of handling and liability. Use this information from R+L Carriers to assign the correct classification.
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - National Motor Freight Classification: A Basic Understanding
A Basic Understanding of Freight Classes
What is NMFC?
The NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) is a professional standard that provides a
comparison of Commodities moving interstate and through foreign trade.
All carriers are bound by this freight classification.
Commodities are grouped into one of 18 different classes.
The NMFC ranks the freight classifications from:
Low - Class 50 to High, Class 500
What Determines Freight Class?
NMFC Freight classifications are based on four characteristics:
• Density: The weight per cubic foot or space occupied. (Length, width, height)
• Freight Stowability: Excessive length or width. How does it fit with other freight in the trailers?
• Ease of Handling: Palletized or united. Does it take special equipment to handle? Are there special
• Liability: Value per pound. Susceptibility to theft and damage.
*The NMFC classification numbers assigned to the goods is critical to freight carriers when determining the tariffs,
which in turn establishes the cost, charged to the customer.
1. Measure the Length, Width and Height of each pallet in inches (be sure to include the wooden pallet in your
2. Use the Free Density Calculator from R+L Carriers
3. Properly describe the commodity:
• What is the product?
• What is the product made of or used for?
• How is it packaged?
Your NMFC classification number determines how your
freight is rated with a quote for transportation. By
calculating the density and providing an accurate
description in advance, reclassification and additional
charges can be avoided.
Most freight fits well in trucks and other forms of commercial transportation; however some commodities are
regulated by the government and/or carrier policies and cannot be loaded together.
For example: Hazardous materials are transported in specific manners regulated by the NMFC and other
Excessive weight, length or height can make freight not possible
to load in the truck with other freight.
Most freight is loaded with some sort of power-driven commercial equipment which makes handling easier,
but some freight, because of weight, form, vulnerability or hazardous properties, requires specialized
attention. A classification that represents simplicity or complexity of loading and carrying the freight is
assigned to the items.
For example, light bulbs, while light weight, are easily damaged so loading and unloading becomes complex.
Liability is the 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.
When classification is based on liability, density must also be considered.
★ NOI -Not Otherwise Indexed- A specific
item is correct unless it is indexed in
another category or NMFC number.
Questions and Answers
Where can I find the NMFC Freight Classifications?
Visit NMFTA.org for a complete list
What information should I have to get a freight quote?
Address where the product is being picked up and where the product is being transported to.
Dimensions (Length, Width, Height)
What information needs to be on the BOL (Bill of Lading) regarding the NMFC Classifications?
Each line on the BOL should reference its corresponding NMFC code and class.
How do I refer back to my quote with the transportation company?
Note your quote number on the BOL and reference it when you call.
Getting The Right Freight Code
We’re here to help. For questions about freight class and to get a quote call
R+L Carriers at 1-800-543-5589
Get a Rate Quote Here