Shipment Class & Weight

Shipping costs are based on the shipment's characteristics. For example, how much space does it take up and how much does it weigh? How easily can it be handled and stowed? And what's the value of the shipment and what liabilities are associated with it?

To equitably assign rates to any one shipment, most carriers refer to the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC).

Don’t see your question here? Send us an email and we’ll be happy to help.



Q. What are the classifications?

A: The NMFC is a pricing tool developed by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA). The classifications establish groupings for virtually all commodities moving in interstate and intrastate transport. This gives both carriers and shippers a standard when agreeing on shipping prices.


Q: What basic shipping characteristics are used to determine classifications?

A: NMFC groups all commodities into 18 classes (50 through 500) according to their “transportability.” The four main characteristics used to evaluate the commodities include:

  1. Density
  2. Stowability
  3. Ease or difficulty in handling
  4. Liability

Q. Why is a class required?

A: The NMFC does not set prices or specify rates, revenues or charges. But it does establish standard categories for pricing, which allows shippers and carriers to negotiate price based on standard shipping considerations. It also provides uniform rules, packaging provisions and Bill of Lading formats. Correct classification enables Estes to offer you the best possible service and the most accurate rates.


Q: How can I classify my shipment?

A: If you're not already familiar with the NMFC categories, simply call our Traffic Department at (804) 353-1900 and press 2269. Be sure to identify each commodity and its classification on your Bill of Lading to ensure that your shipment is properly rated. Please note that some classifications also require the shipper to declare the value and/or the density on the Bill of Lading. Call our Traffic Department if you're unsure if this information is necessary.

To learn more about classification and how to subscribe to the NMFC tariff publication, go to the NMFTA website.


Q: Why was my shipment re-classed if I have shipped it using this class before?

A: Under the National Motor Freight Carrier Administration (NMFCA), the carrier is granted the right to inspect any shipment to ensure that it is properly classified. A shipment may have been misclassified in the past, but that does not mean the shipment can continue to be misclassed going forward.


Q: Why was my shipment reweighed?

A: We reweigh a high percentage of our daily shipments as a normal part of our dock operations. This is done to ensure that weights are correct since shipment weight directly affects how much product we can load onto a trailer without creating an overload based on federal regulations. Overweight units affect the public safety and increase wear and tear on our highway system. In addition, industry freight rates are based off of shipment weight and product class.

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