LTL freight classification can be very confusing with costly repercussions. It is crucial to your bottom line to understand the NMFC codes.

If you misclass your delivery, you are subject to:

  • Reclassification fees
  • Higher shipping costs
  • Potentially damaged freight due to mishandling.
  • Incorrect freight quotes

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The National Motor Freight Traffic Association, INC. (NMFTA) publishes the National Motor Freight Classification® (NMFC), which is a voluntary standard that helps customers and carriers communicate about freight. Having a common language is useful when carriers create freight quotes and determine the stackability of shipments in LTL (less than truckload).  We have some additional information about this here.
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Unfortunately, the NMFTA does not post its freight class list online. Their publication can be purchased on their website, or you can rely on your own 
TMS system or a 3PL to correctly classify your freight. The NMFTA supplies a list of shippers that participate in their standards program.

How Do NMFC Codes work?

NMFTA is class-based. It starts with what's in the box or on a pallet.

The NMFTA defines a class as a way “to establish a commodity’s transportability.”

Each commodity or type of product is assigned an NMFC and corresponding class for LTL shipments. There are 18 classes, from a low class of 50 on up to a class of 500. The higher the number generally indicates a more expensive freight.

The NMFTA determines class by considering four specific aspects to the freight: Density, Stowability, Handling, and Liability. 

  • Density - Calculation of the amount of space the freight takes up on a trailer in relation to its weight.
  • Stowability - Extremely heavy, hazardous, or large freight impedes ease of stowing, which can raise costs and therefore leads to a higher classification.
  • Ease of Handling - If the freight has special handling requirements, it can be classified higher.
  • Liability - Fragile or perishable freight that requires a specific temperature during transport is assigned a higher class.

As mentioned, ensuring the proper classification is essential. Carrier inspections occur during freight transit. If a discrepancy is found between the listed class on the bill of lading and what the actual freight is, a reclassification can occur with costly fees applied.

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Additionally, the codes are frequently re-categorized. That can impact the classifications, so it is advised to regularly check the NMFTA's website for updates to make sure your classification is still accurate.  

Shipping freight is already incredibly expensive, and your relationships with your carriers are precious. You want to get it right when your freight first takes off. Avoid costly classification errors and protect your freight from mishandling due to incorrect LTL stacking and stowing.

We here at FreightPOP provide a feature to manage and help auto-populate freight codes and commodities on your BOLs. You can manage your entire supply chain using our industry-leading TMS. (See a breakdown of our other features here).

For a free demo on freight classification automation and more, click below and let us help!

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