Sep 30, 2020 by Alliance Relocation

Freight Class Codes and Custom Packaging

Freight class helps determine the rate of shipping freight

Any item that is transported by an LTL truck, it will be assigned a freight class that is listed on the Bill of Lading. Determining that freight class can be a challenge. There are 18 different freight classes known as National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC). The purpose of a freight class is to provide uniformity with weight, density, and other factors.

The classes range from 50 to 500; with lower freight classes assigned to heavy items. Therefore, the higher freight class of 500 covers a shipment weighing less than a pound; but likely of high value.

Here is an overview of freight classes, and how they work in shipping.

In the shipping industry, freight class helps determine the rate of shipping freight by creating a common standard in pricing.

Freight class is based on:

  • Weight or volume
  • Freight handling
  • Resilience
  • Liability

The shipper is responsible for ensuring the assigned freight class is correct. Assigning an incorrect freight class may result in additional expenses. Accuracy is crucial to completing documentation, and shortcuts can cause significant problems.

Freight Class Codes

The NMFC sets the codes for shippers and carriers to use to compare, negotiate, and standardize freight pricing. According to the agency, the four areas that are used to determine the classification establishes what is known as the transportability, or ease of handling, of a commodity. The goal is to simplify the endless amount of goods that are transported daily.

The codes cover freight moving intrastate, interstate, and internationally. In addition, the NMFC establishes minimum requirements related to packaging so the shipment is able to be safely transported via LTL. The rules governing classification and packaging based on commodities are also outlined, along with how claims are to be handled, ticketing and the Bill of Lading.

The codes begin at Class 50, assigned to freight weighing over 50 pounds and fitting a standard pallet. In the trucking industry, shipments assigned Class 50 are generally what is known as clean freight.

Class 50 requirements:

  • 50 pounds or more
  • Must be shipped on a pallet
  • All items must neatly fit on a pallet
  • Not subject to breaking

While the guidelines for this freight class are straightforward, shippers must still be careful using it. Some unscrupulous dealers will assign it to obtain lower shipping costs. Freight density and other characteristics are used to calculate freight classification.

Finding the Right Freight Class

The four factors used to determine freight class are:

  • Density: space an item requires on the truck and along with weight
  • Storability: how well items can be stores based on size, weight or if contains hazardous materials
  • Handling: freight requiring special handling could be assigned a higher class
  • Liability: perishable or easily damaged freight is designated in higher freight class.
  • Commercial Shipping Crates

Step by Step Instructions for Calculating Freight Density:

  • Determine the length, width and height of your freight in inches (Including packaging).
  • Multiply these three metrics to calculate the size of your freight in cubic inches.
  • To convert to cubic feet, divide this by 1,728 (the number of cubic inches in a cubic foot).
  • Then, divide the weight of your freight (in pounds) by the total cubic feet.
  • This will give you the density of your freight.
  • L x W x H = inches3 # inches3 / 1,728 = feet3weight in lbs./ feet3 = density


It’s beneficial to partner with Alliance Relocation Services because we care enough to know precisely what it is you’re shipping. Awareness of the exact commodity could inform packaging decisions, which help influence freight classification.

In some cases, smart packaging could mean a lower, and therefore more cost-effective, freight class. Such changes may even be more appropriate/protective for your cargo, thus saving you from potential damages, and in turn, costs.

Here are several questions to ask when considering cargo packaging:

  • Is it as dense and compact as possible?
  • Is it durable?
  • Can it be easily handled?
  • Is everything adequately protected?
  • Does this packaging benefit storability?
  • Is this the best pallet size for this shipment?
  • Are these the best types/strengths of boxes for each commodity group?

Once the freight class is established for a shipment, Alliance Relocation Services ensures the shipment will be protected during transit. We specialize in easy-to-use wooden crates, reusable custom crates, and ISPM-15 certified wooden crates for international shipping. Contact us today for the best in custom crates and professional service.

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