What Goes Into Determining Freight Class?

Cardboard boxesWhen shipping goods, you may have seen the term Freight Class used. If you are not a regular users of LTL freight services, you may have been confused by the term or wonder what it might be. Here is an explanation of freight class, how it is used and what is used in determining freight class.

So What Is Freight Class?

At its core, freight class is just a classification system. It groups together like things and assigns them a number so that people who are doing the shipping understand how hard or easy it is to transport your goods.

Freight class is a number between 50 and 500. The standards for the number are set by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association. This association is based in the United States. However, their standard is used for most freight bills of lading in North America. This system is used primarily for LTL (Less than Truck Load) shipping, but may come up in other types of shipment. There are four primary attributes that are used to determine the Freight Class:

  • Density
  • Handling
  • Stowability
  • Liability


This is probably one of the simplest things to figure out. Just like with any other object, the density is a measure of a unit’s weight over the size of the container. You can figure out the density simply by taking the weight of the package then dividing that by the cubic meters of the pallet. Just measure the length, width and height of the package and multiply them together. Take that number and divide the weight by it. That will give you the density of the package.


This one is a bit more difficult to nail down. Stowability is a measure of just how easy it is to fit into a truck alongside of other items. This means that a standard square pallet of a moderate height is going to be much more stowable than say an irregularly shaped crate that is storing some custom art object. This also takes into account packages that may have hazardous materials in them. Remember, if you are moving items that are classified as hazardous materials, they cannot be moved alongside non-hazardous materials. This makes them less stowable.


This is a measure of how much risk there is with the shipment being damaged or stolen. Other things to keep in mind are the potential of the shipment to damage other materials around it.


The final category is a measure of just how much care is going to need to be taken by the shipping company to move the package. The more fragile the shipment is, the higher the handling value.

These four categories all figure in to the freight class. Keep in mind, the lower the freight class number, the cheaper it is going to be to ship your goods.

Contact Cratex Group today for their help in industrial packing or custom crating of your goods. A custom crate might just reduce that freight class!