Lifted Logic Web Design in Kansas City clock location phone send chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up facebook linkedin instagram google plus pinterest twitter youtube checkbox checkbox-checked radio radio-selected left-arrow right-arrow triangle play plus minus

Mastering NMFC Codes and Freight Class

Industry Insights / June 25, 2024


Understanding NMFC codes and freight class is key for accurate classification and cost reduction on shipments. This blog explains what these concepts are to provide you with practical tips and tools to streamline your shipping processes and save money.

Understanding NMFC Codes

NMFC codes, or National Motor Freight Classification codes, are standardized codes developed by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) to classify commodities for shipping. These codes ensure that goods are classified uniformly, which helps in determining shipping costs and handling requirements.

Key Factors Determining NMFC Codes

NMFC codes are determined based on four key factors:

  • Density: This measures how much space a shipment occupies relative to its weight. High-density items are generally more favorable for shipping.
    Example: A pallet of bricks is denser than a pallet of ping-pong balls, making it cheaper to ship.
  • Handling: This factor considers the ease or difficulty of handling the shipment. Items that are easy to handle are assigned a lower NMFC code.
    Example: A box of nuts and bolts is easier to handle compared to a large, fragile chandelier.
    Stowability: This assesses how easily items can be stored in a carrier’s vehicle. Uniformly shaped items that stack easily are more favorable.
    Example: Stacked boxes versus a rolled-up carpet.
    Liability: This includes the risk of damage, theft, or other liabilities. High-risk items have higher NMFC codes.
    Example: Hazardous materials versus non-hazardous materials.

How to Determine Your NMFC Code

To determine your NMFC code:

  1. Measure the dimensions and weight of your item.
  2. Calculate the density (weight divided by cubic feet).
  3. Use an NMFC code lookup tool like ClassIT® to find the corresponding code.
  4. Cross-reference with similar items to ensure accuracy.

What is Freight Class?

Freight class is a standardized classification system used to determine shipping costs based on NMFC codes. It ranges from Class 50 to Class 500, with lower classes being cheaper to ship.

Criteria for Determining Freight Class

Freight class is determined using the same four factors as NMFC codes:

  • Density: Lower density generally means a higher freight class.
  • Handling: More difficult handling results in a higher class.
  • Stowability: Poor stowability leads to a higher class.
  • Liability: Higher risk items are placed in higher classes.

How to Calculate Your Freight Class

To calculate your freight class:

  1. Measure and weigh your shipment.
  2. Use a density calculator to determine its density.
  3. Refer to a freight class chart to find the class that matches your shipment’s density.

Benefits of Accurate Classification

Accurate NMFC and freight class classification offers several benefits:

  • Cost Savings: Avoid overpaying for shipping by ensuring your items are correctly classified.
  • Efficiency: Streamline your shipping process and reduce delays.
  • Avoidance of Reclassification Issues: Prevent additional charges and delays from misclassification.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

  • Incorrect Measurements: Always measure dimensions and weight accurately.
  • Not Using Updated Codes: NMFC codes are updated regularly; always use the latest version.
  • Ignoring Special Handling Requirements: Factor in any special handling needs to avoid surprises.

Practical Tools and Resources

Use these tools and resources to help with your classification:

  • NMFC Code Lookup Tool: Access the ClassIT® tool for accurate NMFC codes.
  • Density Calculators: Available online to help you calculate freight density.
  • Freight Class Charts: Use this chart to determine your freight class based on density.


Understanding and accurately applying NMFC codes and freight class is essential for efficient and cost-effective shipping. By following this guide, you can streamline your shipping processes, reduce costs, and avoid common pitfalls. For more information and support, feel free to contact us.