Freight Classes

Freight Classes - The NMFC

When it comes to getting your products to your customer (or to the showroom floor), one of the first things you need to consider is how your product is defined by the trucking industry.

In the world of interstate shipping, different types of products -- from chemicals to machine parts to toaster ovens -- are defined according to their makeup. Each product definition is called a classification. The class of your freight plays a prominent role in calculating how much your carrier will charge you for transporting it.

But how are freight classes determined? The many definitions or classes of freight are catalogued in the National Motor Freight Classification tariff, commonly referred to as the NMFC.

The NMFC is a publication for motor carriers containing rules, descriptions, and ratings of all commodities moving in commerce. The publication is used to classify freight for freight bill rating purposes.

Besides defining the classes of shipping commodities, the NMFC also assigns item numbers to each type of commodity. The item number is related not only to the commodity itself, but to its packaging, the material from which the commodity is made, and other considerations. Item numbers are associated with rates as well as commodity classifications.

With page after page of item numbers, commodity descriptions, and freight classes, the NMFC is an excellent reference book for the transportation professional. It describes not only shippers' responsibilities, but many of the responsibilities of carriers as well. Some of what the NMFC contains includes:


  • A list of carriers who participate in the NMFC
  • Descriptions of each item/commodity
  • Rules specifically for shippers
  • Packaging requirements
  • Rules for freight loss and damage claims