When requesting rates and booking less-than-truckload (LTL) services, the shipper is responsible for providing the carrier with the correct freight class. Entering the correct freight class ensures you receive an accurate quote for the goods you are shipping. Getting it wrong can result in significant and unexpected charges, and if your shipment is damaged or lost in transit, an incorrect freight class can affect the compensation the carrier owes you.
How to Determine Freight Class
There are two ways to determine the right freight class for your shipment.
The safest way is by using the National Motor Freight Classification™ (NMFC™) standards published by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA). TheNMFTA publishes a list of freight class designations for commonly shipped items. To use the NMFC list, you’ll need to become a member of the NMFTA, and you can do that here.
If you don’t have access to the NMFC list or don’t want to subscribe, you can estimateyour freight class based on the density of your shipment (how much your shipment weighs per cubic foot). To do this you can use the freight class density table.
If you would like additional assistance, please contact a Koho shipping advisor via email at email@example.com or by dialing +1-888-990-KOHO (5646).
Frequently asked questions
What is freight class?
Put simply, freight class is a reference number that tells an LTL carrier and its load planners about the attributes of the commodity you are shipping and how the carrier needs to calculate the price it will offer you for transporting it.
There are 18 freight classes on a scale from 50 (least expensive) up to 500 (most expensive).
Why is freight class important?
Declaring the correct freight class ensures that you as a shipper get the best rate and that you are making an apples-to-apples comparison when choosing the carrier, service and rate that is right for you and your business.
In addition, providing the carrier with the correct freight class helps you avoid:
1. Paying too much because you “play it safe” and overdeclare the freight class
2. Incurring unexpected costs resulting from underdeclaring the freight class
Don’t I just pay the LTL carrier based on the actual weight of the shipment?
Weight is important, but it is not the only factor used to determine the amount you pay. It’s true that your freight bill will be based on a rate per pound of actual weight, but through the freight class system, the carrier will adjust the rate for each item in your shipment based on:
Is freight class an industry standard? Do all carriers require it?
The National Motor Freight Classification™ (NMFC™) is an industry standard many carriers subscribe to and use for pricing and planning LTL shipments. The NMFC reference guide provides the freight class and item number for many commodities but not all.
If the commodity you are shipping is not listed within the NMFC standards, the density of the item will determine the freight class. See the freight class density table on page 3.
How do I calculate the density of an item?
The density of a shipment is simply its volume in cubic feet divided by its gross weight in pounds.
The volume of a pallet with dimensions 48 inches long x 48 inches wide x 48 inches high = 48" x 48" x 48" / 1,728 = 64 cubic feet. (note that 1,728 is the number of cubic inches in a cubic foot)
If the actual gross weight of the pallet is 400 pounds, the density of the pallet is 400 pounds / 64 cubic feet = 6.25 pounds per cubic foot.
When and how do I use density to determine freight class?
For items not listed within the NMFC commodity list, use the table below to map the density of the item to the applicable freight class.
Freight Density (pounds per cubic foot)
Less than 1
1 but less than 2
2 but less than 4
4 but less than 6
6 but less than 8
8 but less than 10
10 but less than 12
12 but less than 15
15 but less than 22.5
22.5 but less than 30
30 or greater
Who is responsible for determining the freight class for a shipment?
The shipper is responsible for providing the carrier with the freight class both when requesting a quote and at the time of booking a shipment.
Most carriers demand that shippers reference the National Motor Freight Classification™ (NMFC™), which is a tariff book published by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA). Some commodities are preassigned a freight class. The freight class of other commodities is determined by density or a combination of commodity and density.
A shipment containing multiple items (commodities) may have multiple freight classes. If you have multiple items, please contact a Koho shipping advisor via firstname.lastname@example.org or by dialing +1-888-990-KOHO (5646).
What happens to my costs if I declare the wrong freight class?
The charges for your shipment may be higher than you expect based on the original quote. In some cases, the difference can be significant.
Trucking companies do spot checks on shipments and impose additional charges on shipments that underdeclare the freight class. Carriers are investing in technologies that enable them to perform these checks in a few seconds. As a result, the percentage of shipments getting checked is increasing and will eventually reach 100%. If the check reveals that the freight class has been incorrectly declared, the carrier will charge a reclassification fee in addition to the difference in freight charges. You can avoid these costs by informing the carrier of the correct freight class at the time of quotation and when booking the shipment.
Furthermore, in the event that your shipment is damaged or lost, an incorrect freight class can affect the compensation the carrier owes you. This is one of the reasons Koho recommends all-risk insurance for all shipments.
How can I determine the freight class for my LTL shipment?
Shippers use the National Motor Freight Classification™ (NMFC™) reference guide when determining the freight class for an item they are shipping for the first time. For items not listed within the NMFC, use the freight class density table to map the density of the item to the applicable freight class.
Use the Product Book functionality in the Koho app to store your product details and associated freight class for use in future shipments.
Freight class is important when shipping LTL. If you require additional assistance, please contact a Koho shipping advisor via email@example.com or by dialing +1-888-990-KOHO (5646).