How to Determine Freight Class for Truck Shipping

All items that move by ground in the United States are subject to regulations administrated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Commonly know as the DOT, this agency regulates safe ground commerce by enforcing guidelines for trucking companies that handle freight. The NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) breaks down all shippable items in categories into which all freight must be properly classified prior to being shipped. To the surprise of many first-time shippers, each classification code affects the cost of transportation. In order to avoid confusion and possible fines for infractions, it is imperative to properly classify freight.

Determine what item is going to be shipped. Make a list of items to be shipped if there are more than one. Describe in great detail what the item is made of, its purpose, its value and its condition. Weigh and measure the dimensions of all packages being shipped. MNFC classification codes are extremely detailed, so any additional details, such as types of packaging, is helpful.

Contact a local LTL carrier. An LTL (less than truckload) carrier is a trucking company that consolidates various customers’ orders to fill trucks. Contacting a local LTL carrier is easiest by calling during business hours, but is also possible in many case online.

Give a description of the item to ship, along with all additional information, to LTL carrier. List all items that follow under different classification numbers, so that an accurate price can be quoted. The trucking company will help you classify the items by looking up the freight in the MNFC classification manual.

Calculate the density of the freight. Density is calculated by dividing pounds by cubic feet. Classifications are determined not only by classification number, but by density.