Freight Classification can be a tricky thing. There are thousands of item numbers to choose from and once you find one that looks right, you have to determine if there are packaging requirements, density requirements or some other hidden note that you didn’t spot. In total, there are 18 classes to choose from ranging from 50 (lowest) to 500 (highest).
Let us break it down for you. The NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) classifications provide a standard way to analyze commodities. The class assigned to each product is based on four factors common in transportation: density, stowability, handling and liability. Evaluating products in the marketplace and assigning classifications to them makes it easier for shippers and carriers to negotiate rates.
Classification aims to separate distinct items like hardwood flooring (class 50) from hairdryers (class 100), while at the same time combining items with the same general characteristics, like shoes (class 150), for example, into one classification. This makes communication about the product much easier for both shippers and carriers. So instead of having to worry about what kind of shoes, what brand name or size you are shipping you just look for shoes. Easy, right?
Enough with other examples, you just need help finding the right class for your product! Not a problem – there are a variety of resources available to you. You could always start by calling us and we can assist you. If you’re the do-it-yourself type, you can check out the product list at NMFTA.org where you can buy a book or a subscription to their online product called ClassIT. Or, if you only have a few items, you can pay a small one-time fee and the National Motor Freight Transportation Association (NMFTA) will tell you the proper NMFC to use.
If you’re going to venture out on your own and try to find the right freight class for your product here are 3 helpful tips:
- Use density as a starting point. Learn to calculate freight density to determine your classification range. You can find more
- Read the notes. Many items have notes that explain the specifics requirements for that class.
- There is only one correct item number for your product. If you get stuck, ask for help.
That’s enough about freight classification for now. More to come later so keep checking in with us. Happy shipping!