What is freight class? It’s a standardized shipping industry pricing classification. 

Freight class is based on: ease of handling, value, weight, length, height, density, and liability. 

Developed by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFT), freight class is something that is used for interstate, intrastate, and general commerce movement of LTL shipments. The usage allows for standardized prices across all carriers and businesses for easy and productive freight negotiations. 

But why do LTL freight shippers care about freight classifications? Not only does it affect shipping rates and fees, it also determines the tariffs that they have to pay for transporting freight. Quoting an accurate freight class from the start saves time and money that may be spent on correcting mistakes. 

What determines freight class? 

There are a number of elements that go into where a shipment falls on the list of freight classifications. The main parts are: commodity density, handling, stowability, and libabily.  

  • Commodity density: Some products are density based, which is calculated by total cubic feet divided by total weight. Lower density = higher freight class. 
  • Handling: All freight goes through many checkpoints in the shipping process, and freight that may be more difficult to load or carry will be categorized as a higher freight class. 
  • Stowability: If packaged correctly, most freight will be easy to stow in containers, but some items are regulated by the government, and can’t be placed with different items. Freight that is too heavy, weirdly shaped, or overall harder to load will be placed in a higher freight class. 
  • Liability: If the freight in question has a higher possibility of being stolen, damaged, or causing damage to its surrounding freight, the higher the liabilities are, so the higher the freight class. Examples include: perishable cargo, or combustible cargo. 

How do you calculate freight class? 

In order to calculate freight class, you have to measure the length, width and height of your freight in inches (don’t forget the packaging). Multiply the three measurements to get the size of your freight in cubic inches. Then, convert the number to cubic feet by dividing the result by 1,728 (the number of cubic inches in a cubic foot). After, divide the weight of your freight (in pounds) by the total cubic feet, and that will give you the density of your freight. 

What Are the Possible Freight Classes? 

In general, the lower the density of a package, the higher the freight class. Lower classifications are reserved for easily handled, dense, and sturdy freight. Freight that is susceptible to damage or theft will be placed higher in the rankings. 

There are 18 total possible classifications for LTL freight, and they are:

Freight ClassCostWeight Range (per cubic foot)
50LowestOver 50 pounds
55 35 - 50
60 30 - 35
65 22.5 - 30
70 15 - 22.5
77.5 13.5 - 15
85 12 - 13.5
92.5 10.5 - 12
100 9 - 10.5
110 8 - 9
125 7 - 8
150 6 - 7
175 5 - 6
200 4 - 5
250 3 - 4
300 2 - 3
400 1 - 2
500HighestLess than 1 pound

Why is freight class important? 

It helps carriers decide the best way to organize freight in a container. When an LTL carrier has a combination of various goods to load up, having freight classifications can help them handle shipments properly. With the help of accurate freight classes, carriers can fit shipments into their containers better, like by placing sturdy, stackable freight on the bottom. 

SFI is the solution! 

Having the proper knowledge when it comes to classifying your freight is important. But if you don’t want to worry about the details and logistics, SFI can help you! If you’re in need of a freight forwarding agent, talk to SFI today, and we will take care of all of your shipping needs. Email us at info@sfi.com or call us at (909) 594-3400.