What are NMFC Codes and Why are They Important?

National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) Codes were created by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association to classify all commodities into distinct classes, guaranteeing fair measures and standardized pricing. There are currently 18 different classes between 50 and 500. Below, we detail the criteria for each class and why it is imperative that the NMFC Codes are followed to the T.


How classification works

Freight classifications are based on four characteristics: density, freight stowability, ease of handling, and liability.

  • Density is the weight per cubic foot of a product. In other words, it is how much space freight takes up relative to how much it weighs.
  • Stowability is how easy a product is to load and fit with other products. The less stowable freight is, the higher classification, and therefore the higher cost.
  • Ease of handling accounts for special requirements, such as when a product is fragile or hazardous.
  • Liability addresses the value of the product, if it is perishable or needs a specific temperature during transport, or if it is susceptible to theft or damage.


The classes

Below is an outline of the 18 classes created by the NMFC. Of course, these only take into account weight classifications, and should not be used as an exact guideline to the proper freight class; rather, this is to provide a general idea of the class system. Again, the weight classifications are per cubic foot.

  • Class 50: over 50 pounds
  • Class 55: from 35 to 50 pounds
  • Class 60: from 30 to 35 pounds
  • Class 65: from 22.5 to 30 pounds
  • Class 70: from 15 to 22.5 pounds
  • Class 77.5: from 13.5 to 15 pounds
  • Class 85: from 12 to 13.5 pounds
  • Class 92.5: from 10.5 to 12 pounds
  • Class 100: from 9 to 10.5 pounds
  • Class 110: from 8 to 9 pounds
  • Class 125: from 7 to 8 pounds
  • Class 150: from 6 to 7 pounds
  • Class 175: from 5 to 6 pounds
  • Class 200: from 4 to 5 pounds
  • Class 250: from 3 to 4 pounds
  • Class 300: from 3 to 2 pounds
  • Class 400: from 1 to 2 pounds
  • Class 500: less than 1 pound


Why it’s important to pay attention to the codes

Incorrectly classified shipments will face expensive adjustments in the future, including reclassification fees, raised shipping costs, and the cost of damaged freight from improper handling. It can also mislead executives as to whether an LTL logistics and transportation company will remain (or become) profitable. Many distributors actually base their business off of what types of freight they will ship, so whether or not a distributor will do business with a company depends on accurate classification.

However, monetary motivations aren’t the only reason to stay up to code. An incorrect freight class can lead to inefficiency or dangerous situations. It is best for everyone involved that NMFC codes are held to the highest priority to ensure accuracy, and therefore safety and efficiency.

The NMFTA has the publication available for purchase on their website, so you can be sure you have full compliance with the codes. They also supply a list of various shippers that are part of their standards program to help you make an informed decision on a distributor. Your company should be clear on NMFC codes before engaging in any freight transportation.

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