The National Motor Freight Classification is a standard that compares commodities moving in interstate, intrastate and foreign commerce based on the transportation characteristics of the commodity, including the item's density, handling, stow-ability and liability. A commodity's transportability rating is based on how it grades on each of these categories. Graded commodities fall into one of 18 freight classes ranging from class 50 to class 500, with 500 being ideal transportability.
Freight class is used as one of the factors to determine shipping costs. Typically, the lower the freight class, the lower the shipping cost is. Usually, the most significant aspect of the freight class is the density of the item. The higher an item's density, the lower its transportability, meaning that its cost is higher.
The National Motor Freight Classification grading system provided by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association provides both parties in shipping transactions the ability to base negotiations off of defined standards. In order to participate in the National Motor Freight Classification, transportation companies must either become a member of the National Motor Freight Traffic Association or complete a license agreement and pay an annual fee.
As members of the National Motor Freight Traffic Association, transportation companies can use and reference the provisions of the National Motor Freight Classification in their contracts and rate schedules. The provisions of the National Motor Freight Classification only apply to transportation companies that use or reference the National Motor Freight Classification.