Falvey Shippers Updates

What is Freight Class?

Posted: Nov 18, 2020 10:45:00 AM

Shippers and carriers use freight class to determine standard shipping rates for specific kinds of cargo. Cargo pieces have different transportation characteristics, such as size and liability, which can affect their shipping rates. Because not all products are the same, it’s important to price each load of cargo accordingly. 

Before diving into freight class, though, we must first understand less-than-truckload (LTL), which refers to when a business only uses a portion of the truckload space rather than filling an entire truck-load (TL). Taking advantage of LTL allows businesses to save money on their shipping costs by not paying for unnecessary space.

The Purpose of Freight Class 

Developed by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association, the National Motor Freight Classification (NMPC), or freight class, provides a system for evaluating and pricing products that share cargo space with other products. Because products will differ in their weight, liability, and ease of handling, freight class offers a way to determine their transportability and calculate their associated shipping rates and fees. 

Freight Class Characteristics

To calculate a product’s transportability, freight class assesses these four elements:

  • Liability: This refers to the likelihood of the freight being stolen or damaged. It also takes into account whether the freight may damage other cargo within close proximity. Is the freight flammable, combustible, or perishable? The higher the liability, the higher the associated costs. 
  • Ease of Handling: Does the freight require special care when loading or unloading? While machines usually have no problem transporting freight, it may incur higher fees if the cargo is especially awkward, heavy, hazardous, or fragile. 
  • Stowability: This determines how difficult it is to store the freight. For example, some government regulations may prohibit certain freight, such as hazardous materials, from being stored with other products. Meanwhile, cargo that is exceptionally large or heavy may not store well with other cargo. If the freight requires special storage instructions, it may cost more to ship. 
  • Density: This metric considers the amount of space the freight takes up in relation to its weight. The freight classes range from products weighing less than one pound per cubic feet to those weighing more than 50 pounds per cubic feet. 

Freight Classes

The above factors determine which class the cargo belongs to. There are 18 classifications, ranging from the lowest, class 55, to the highest, class 500. The lower the density, the higher the class. For example, gold dust would fall in the highest class, 500, while something much denser, like steel roots, would fall in the lowest class of 50. 

Here is the complete chart of freight classes:





Class 50 – Clean Freight

Lowest Cost

Fits on standard shrink-wrapped 4X4 pallet, very durable

over 50 lbs

Class 55


Bricks, cement, mortar, hardwood flooring

35-50 pounds

Class 60


Car accessories & car parts

30-35 pounds

Class 65


Car accessories & car parts, bottled beverages, books in boxes

22.5-30 pounds

Class 70


Car accessories & car parts, food items, automobile engines

15 to 22.5 pounds

Class 77.5


Tires, bathroom fixtures

13.5 to 15 pounds

Class 85


Crated machinery, cast iron stoves

12-13.5 pounds

Class 92.5


Computers, monitors, refrigerators

10.5-12 pounds

Class 100


boat covers, car covers, canvas, wine cases, caskets

9-10.5 pounds

Class 110


cabinets, framed artwork, table saw

8-9 pounds

Class 125


Small Household appliances

7-8 pounds

Class 150


Auto sheet metal parts, bookcases,

6-7 pounds

Class 175


Clothing, couches stuffed furniture

5-6 pounds

Class 200


Auto sheet metal parts, aircraft parts, aluminum table, packaged mattresses,

4-5 pounds

Class 250


Bamboo furniture, mattress and box spring, plasma TV

3-4 pounds

Class 300


wood cabinets, tables, chairs setup, model boats

2-3 pounds

Class 400


Deer antlers

1-2 pounds

Class 500 – Low Density or High Value

Highest Cost

Bags of gold dust, ping pong balls

Less than 1 lbs.

(Source: PluginHive)

Freight Class & Carrier’s Liability

Freight class helps determine shipping rates and fees, which then plays into how much you’ll pay to insure your shipment. For LTL shipments, freight class, packaging, commodity type, and other conditions are factored in to determine the liability coverage. In other words, while it’s not the only consideration, freight class is often a leading indicator of what type of coverage your shipment requires.

Many businesses rely solely on carrier’s liability insurance, which is generally established on a dollars per pound basis. But by its nature, carrier’s liability is limited and rarely covers the full value of your shipment. In fact, there’s a big difference between carrier’s liability and all-risk insurance.

For full protection, it’s important to invest in door-to-door shipping insurance. To learn about your options and how you can get customized coverage for your business, check out Falvey Shippers.


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