What does freight class mean in exports?

Freight class is a measurement of cargo that enables measurement of standard prices across freight carriers and businesses. Learn more about it in the blog.
What does freight class mean in exports
Freight is any cargo moved from one location to another and does not qualify for parcel or courier shipping. Unlike packages that get delivered to home through couriers, which are smaller in size, freights are relatively heavier and bigger. In international trade, freight cargo is an important part of the logistics process.

What is freight class?

Freight class is a measurement of cargo that enables measurement of standard prices across freight carriers and businesses. This is useful when collaborating with different service providers like carriers, storage providers, brokers and consolidators and allows everyone in the freight industry to offer similar pricing. The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) has compiled a classification system used across the freight industry1.

Why is freight class important?

Classifying freight helps carriers and handlers pick the most appropriate way to handle, sort, and move goods during transit from warehouse to vehicle. This can be helpful when carriers carry a mix of different types of goods – rice, fragile glass, and electronics. Knowing how to sort them based on assigned freight classes helps ensure there is no damage or cross-contamination. Carriers and handlers will also know if the freight is stackable and, if so, how high. This also helps in optimizing shipping costs and minimizing delays and disruptions2.

Step-by-step guide to calculating freight class

Exporters must determine the exact dimensions of their cargo – height, length, and width in inches. This measurement is inclusive of the packaging. Once these three measurements have been taken, multiply them to get the size of your freight in cubic inches4.

Factors that determine freight class

There are 18 freight classes that are categorized based on weight, size (dimensions), density, storage capacity, handling ability, value, and risk of liability. These classes are numbered from 50s to 500. The higher the freight class, the more expensive it is to handle and higher the chance of damage.


This freight class is based on the space any goods consumes in relation to its weight. Classification 50 is assigned to freight that weighs 50 pounds (22.6796 KG) per cubic foot. The CCSB (Commodity Classification Standards Board) has assigned 70,92.5,176 and 400 to freight that has densities of 15,10.5,5 and 1 pound per cubic foot. Any freight that is less dense than 1 pound per cubic foot goes into the 500 classifications.

Ease of handling

Different kinds of cargo need to be handled differently to ensure that the chances of damage are reduced. Rice bags, for example, cannot be lifted with hooks. Carriers cannot stack heavy goods on top of vegetables. The ease of handling goods determines the class it goes into – the harder it is to handle, the higher the freight class and the costlier it is.


Cargo that is of a high value, easily perishable or dangerous is more susceptible to damage and theft and may even have a higher chance of damaging other cargo. The more liability an item of cargo comes with, the higher the freight class and cost.


Some types of freight cannot be stowed with other cargo; this could be because they are not allowed to be carried together as per law, they may be of an odd shape, and they may be easily damaged or cause cross-contamination. The less stowable a piece of cargo is, the higher the freight class and the cost.

Examples of freight class

Here are a few examples of cargo that may be classified into the following freight class codes7:

Freight class code

Type of freight

Durable freight that fits on a standard 4' × 4' pallet
Bricks, cement, hardwood flooring, construction materials
Car accessories, car parts
Car accessories and parts, boxed books, bottled drinks
Car accessories and parts, auto engines, food items
Tires, bathroom fixtures
Computers, monitors, refrigerators

List of freight classes

There are 18 classifications for LTL freight ranging from low, 50, to high, 500. Easily handled, dense, sturdy freight will be tagged with a low classification. Freight that is particularly susceptible to damage or theft will be ranked higher.

A good rule of thumb to follow is: The lower the density, the higher the freight class.


Weight range (per cubic foot)

Class 55
Over 50 pounds
Class 60
30–35 pounds
Class 65
22.5–30 pounds
Class 70
15–22.5 pounds
Class 77.5
13.5–15 pounds
Class 85
12–13.5 pounds

How do 3PLs use freight class to lower shipping costs?

There are three licenses issued by the Rubber Board: dealer’s license, processor’s license and manufacturer's license. These can be applied online on the official website.

Bumping density

This is when logistics providers declare a weight higher than the actual weight to qualify for lower freight classifications.


Choosing strategic packaging by knowing what is shipped may also help reduce costs by obtaining a lower freight classification. This could be by way of using more protection while packing, reducing the chance of damage, which ultimately makes handling easier and, thus, freight classifications lower.

Low released value

This is a way of understating the value of cargo to qualify for lower liability and, thus, lower freight classes.

Most e-commerce companies today strive for efficient delivery. Quick and accurate delivery is one of the top requirement criteria for customers. By offering significant infrastructure, resources, and an execution team, a 3PL provider can guarantee risk-free and on-time deliveries. With e-commerce programs and the logistics support provided by them, selling not just in India but internationally has become simple and hassle-free.

Easy e-commerce exports with Amazon
Global Selling

Amazon Global Selling is an e-commerce exports program that enables sellers to reach over 300 million international customers shopping on Amazon marketplaces in the US, UK, Australia, UAE, Singapore, and more. Apart from Amazon inventory management system and FBA, you can also use other international tools and programs – Exports Compliance Dashboard, simple listing and A+ content – that make your exporting from India easy and seamless.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an NMFC code?
The NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) code is a method of classifying goods into groups. This allows transport companies to evaluate the goods easily and determine the costs and methods they need to employ10.
What are the most common freight classes?
The most commonly transported goods belong to the following freight classes:
· Class 60 (30–35 pounds per cubic foot) – Car parts and accessories, crated machinery, glue, bottled water
· Class 70 (15–22.5 pounds per cubic foot) – Food items, car parts and accessories, automobile engines
· Class 85 (12–13.5 pounds per cubic foot) – Automobiles engines, cast iron stoves, crated machinery
· Class 92.5 (10.5–12 pounds per cubic foot) – Computers, monitors, refrigerators, ice machines
· Class 100 (9–10.5 pounds per cubic foot) – Calculators, wine cases, canvas, furniture
What is Freight Class 70?
Freight class 70 usually includes food items, car parts, engines, and furniture that requires assembly and machinery. The weight assigned for this class is 15.22.5 lbs. Freight class 70 is one of the classes on the NMFC code list that ranges from 50–500. Common commodities and materials for freight class 70 can include food items, car parts and engines, unassembled furniture, and machinery.
Published on February 24, 2023.


Sell across the world with Amazon Global Selling

Ready to start exporting from India?
Want to learn about Amazon Global Selling?
Disclaimer: Whilst Amazon Seller Services Private Limited ("Amazon") has used reasonable endeavours in compiling the information provided, Amazon provides no assurance as to its accuracy, completeness or usefulness or that such information is error-free. In certain cases, the blog is provided by a third-party seller and is made available on an "as-is" basis. Amazon hereby disclaims any and all liability and assumes no responsibility whatsoever for consequences resulting from use of such information. Information provided may be changed or updated at any time, without any prior notice. You agree to use the information, at your own risk and expressly waive any and all claims, rights of action and/or remedies (under law or otherwise) that you may have against Amazon arising out of or in connection with the use of such information. Any copying, redistribution or republication of the information, or any portion thereof, without prior written consent of Amazon is strictly prohibited.

*Map not to scale. The map has been used for design and representational purpose only, it does not depict the geographical boundaries of the country. These do not conform to the external boundaries of India recognized by the Survey of India.