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Understanding Your NMFC Code

April 26, 2022 by FreightCenter
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In LTL shipping, you will hear about NMFC codes and freight class. Getting your NMFC code and freight class right is vital for any small business shipper. Minor errors could lead to costly billing adjustments and frustration. Understanding this component of freight shipping will help you optimize your supply chain, control freight spending, and allow you to spend more time running your business. One of the first steps any LTL shipper can take is to learn about NMFC codes, what they are, and why it’s so essential when shipping LTL freight.

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What Is an NMFC Code?

LTL shipments are assigned a National Motor Freight Classification code, or NMFC code, to balance shipping costs against trailer space. NMFC codes help carriers determine the cost of shipping freight. The NMFC code is a plan by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) to ensure that customers get a fair price when shipping by standardizing the freight shipping process. Freight can be sorted into 18 freight classes based on ease of transport, ranging from low (class 50) to high (class 500).

Determining your NMFC code

Determining your NMFC code is also a matter of safety. While incorrectly classified freight can lead to a dangerous situation concerning weight distribution or incompatible freight types. Not to mention incorrectly classified freight will lead to costly billing adjustments.

Use the Correct NMFC Code

Each item that you ship receives a specific NMFC code. The code is five to six digits. Similar things may start with the same three digits. For example, codes beginning with 183 suggest a type of tobacco product. Knowing the NMFC code throughout the shipping process notifies each handler on how to handle the freight and what mode of transportation you’ll need. Hazmat shipments have an NMFC area that is specifically for possibly dangerous cargo.

What Determines Freight Class?

Of course, a shipment’s NMFC code relies on the item’s freight class, which is crucial in determining shipping rates. In general, four main factors determine a shipment’s freight class – to remember these factors, we use a little acronym known as SLED.

SLED stands for:

Stowability refers to an item’s compatibility with other items on the trailer. It determines whether the freight is stackable and what type of freight is shipped. While anything perishable, flammable, or hazardous requires special consideration.

Liability—Liability refers to freight value and accounts for the probability of freight damage, causing damage, or being stolen—the greater the risk, the greater the freight class.

Understanding Your NMFC Code

Ease of handling—How much care is needed to ship your freight? The difficulty or ease required to ship your goods will affect the freight class.

Density—Pounds per cubic foot or density refers to the amount of space needed for an item. Smaller, denser items are usually cheaper to ship. One hundred pounds of feathers and one hundred pounds of bricks may weigh the same, but one hundred pounds of feathers will take up way more room because they are less dense. Density is why carriers don’t always determine shipping costs by weight.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that some commodities may not have an NMFC code, referred to as NOI (Not Otherwise Indicated). Check out the FreightCenter density calculator to help you figure out density.

Your NMFC code and freight class go hand in hand. As before, misclassified freight can result in costly billing adjustments that you could avoid.

We’re NMFC Experts

NMFC codes are an essential part of the LTL industry. We’ve developed some handy tools, like the freight class lookup tool that provides a glance at common shipping items, their freight class, and NMFC codes. Don’t guess at your NMFC code or try to figure out freight class on your own –FreightCenter can help.

Get a free quote today or call 8007167608 and start shipping!

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