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How LTL Freight Classification is Determined

December 29, 2017
5 min read
Less Than Truckload
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Want to save money on your company’s shipping? The first thing you need to understand is LTL freight class. Less than truckload, or LTL as it’s commonly called, is a shipment that doesn’t fill a full truckload in a 48 to 43-foot trailer. There are many benefits to LTL shipping, as we’ve previously discussed on our blog, but before you’re able to take advantage of the savings, you’ll need to know what and how to determine LTL freight class.

What is a Less Than Truckload Freight Class?

Freight class is just one of the many factors that determine the LTL shipping rate you’ll pay to get your precious cargo from Point A to Point B. The classes are defined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) and are published each year through the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC).

How LTL Freight Classification is Determined

The LTL freight classification system was designed to make it easier for customers to get fair and accurate pricing quotes when negotiating with multiple carriers, warehouses, and logistics companies. LTL freight class is based on a variety of factors:


The overall size of your LTL shipment based on the longest length, width, and height. When determining dimensions, be sure to include added length from protrusions and bulky areas.


This is calculated by dividing the total weight of the shipment (in lbs.) by the total volume (ft3). To get ft3, multiply length by width, then divide by 1728 in3.

Value & Liability

If the package has a high value, is an item likely to be at high risk from theft, or is highly perishable, it may increase in freight class because it will be more difficult to move during the shipping process.

Stow-ability & Handling

This factor depends on the ease of stowing for the staff shipping your items. While many companies use heavy machinery to load items, breakable shipments or those of excessive weight will not be easy to maneuver. In that same way, hazardous materials or shipments that cannot be moved with machinery because of shape or weight will also incur a higher freight class.

By utilizing the factors above, a determination can be made regarding your freight shipment classification. Work with your carrier or 3PL to understand how your products are classified and why. In some cases, you may assume your product will be more or less expensive to ship, but it may not be accurate. For example, a load of concrete, while heavy, may be less expensive to ship than boxes of clothes. The clothing is ranked higher even though it weighs less than the cement.

How to negotiate a discount on LTL shipping

One of the best ways to get a steep discount on LTL freight shipping is to work with a third-party logistics company. Amware is conveniently headquartered in Cleveland, OH – which is centrally located within 500 miles of over 80% of the American population. Our team can help you create a comprehensive logistics plan so you can save money on your LTL, full truckload (FTL), and parcel shipping. In addition to negotiating affordable shipping contracts, our team can also help you find the best warehousing and distribution centers for your goods, whether you’re shipping foreign or domestic.

Contact our team today to learn more about LTL freight shipping, or download a free 30-day trial of Amrate, our cutting-edge LTL software.

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