National Motor Freight Classification: NMFC codes explained

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Understanding NMFC freight codes

To establish fair measures and standardize freight pricing, the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) created a freight classification system for all types of commodities. This structure, featuring well-defined classes, is the National Motor Freight Classification system, commonly referred to as NMFC.

Commodities are grouped into 18 freight classes between 50 and 500. NMFC codes specifically relate to unique commodities within each of the 18 freight classes. Shippers and carriers commonly use these freight classifications as a common standard when setting shipping rates.

Characteristics of NMFC freight classifications

NMFC codes are based on four characteristics:

  • Freight density
  • Freight stowability
  • Ease of handling
  • Liability

The role density plays in establishing freight class

Of the four freight class factors affecting NMFC codes, density is the most critical. Density measures how much space an item takes up relative to its weight. The higher the density, the less space an item takes up—meaning it can be shipped more efficiently. Accordingly, items with high density, such as steel and machinery, typically have lower NMFC freight classes than items with low density, such as furniture and appliances.

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If you're unsure of your NMFC code, use our freight density calculator & class chart to get an idea of which classification is recommended for your freight.

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Warehouse worker calculating freight class using dimensionalizer

NMFC codes FAQ

What's the difference between NMFC code and freight classes?

Freight class primarily looks at density and the groupings of 18 freight classes between 50–500. NMFC codes get much more specific and take all factors that impact efficiency of the shipping process into account, assigning a number based on the specific commodity being shipped. For example, an electronic speaker and cellphone may have the same freight class, but separate NMFC codes.

How do I find the full NMFC code list?

The NMFC database is not publicly available, but our guided freight rate calculator will automatically help classify your shipment according to the dimensions and weights entered.

Is NMFC freight class required on the BOL?

Yes. NMFC freight class is typically required while completing the bill of lading. NMFC codes help provide carriers with an understanding how difficult it will be to move a particular commodity. Respectively, they are just as important to shippers to ensure an accurate quote from the carrier.

What does a low NMFC code number indicate?

For the most part, the lower the NMFC class number, the lower the freight density—which can indicate a lower freight rate.

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*NMFC codes are subject to change without notice.

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