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How Do I Find My NMFC Code: Classifying With Confidence

Resources > How Do I Find My NMFC Code: Classifying With Confidence
NMFC codes can be difficult to find. With our help, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to find the right one for the commodities you want to transport.
Steps For Finding NMFC Codes   |   How NMFC Codes Affect Price   |   NMFC Code Search Tips   |   Our Services
Published: October 4, 2023
Last Modified: October 4, 2023
Author: Jacob Lee

‘How do I find my NMFC code?’ is a question many shippers ask when trying to navigate the complexities of freight classification. Not having the correct number can lead to shipping delays, unexpected costs, and even refusal of your shipment by carriers. This makes it essential to have the right code for a smooth and cost-effective shipping experience.

The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) says shippers can find their NMFC number by following four simple steps. These include:

  1. Consulting NMFTA resources
  2. Assessing the details of a shipment
  3. Calculating cargo density
  4. Selecting the correct class

Shippers should complete each step very carefully to prevent mistakes.

We’ll show you how to find your NMFC code and how each one can affect the overall cost of a shipment.   

How do I find my NMFC code can be difficult when freight is already in a container like the one depicted

How Do I Find My NMFC Code: A Step-By-Step Guide

The steps to find the correct NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) numbers for the commodities in a shipment are fairly short. With enough time and research, shippers will locate the right five to six-digit code for their products. 

1. Check with NMFTA

Companies should start looking for their NMFC numbers by consulting the NMFTA. This is the governing body that oversees these codes. They have an extensive directory of NMFC numbers, ensuring you’re on the right track from the get-go. 

Other useful resources the NMFTA offers include: 

  • Expert assistance
  • Training materials
  • Updates and changes on classifications

With the help of NMFTA resources, shippers will have the materials they need to find their NMFC numbers. 

2. Consider All Details of the Freight

The next step for shippers is to consider the details regarding their load. Once this is done, they’ll need to select the NMFC code that best fits the kind of freight they want to transport. 

Shippers should consider the following details about their cargo:

  • Fragility
  • Weight
  • Perishablility
  • Packaging 
  • Special handling requirements

All of these variables can play a factor in determining the right NMFC code. Different commodities can have similar numbers, which makes it easy for shippers to confuse products. Therefore, each code should be carefully compared to the commodity being transported. 

3. Calculate the Density of the Cargo

Density plays a vital role in determining the NMFC code. To find out the density of their cargo, shippers will need a few key pieces of information about their freight.

This includes:

  • Weight 
  • Length
  • Width
  • Height

Businesses can get the weight of their commodity by putting it on a scale. Shippers should include the weight of their packaging in this measurement as well. Next, business will need to determine the height, length, and width of their freight in inches. 

Once this has been done, they’ll need to multiply these dimensions together. The product of this calculation will then be divided by 1,728, which is the amount of cubic inches in a cubic foot. This amount will be the volume of the commodity. 

Shippers will then divide the weight and volume of the item. The resulting quotient is the density of their goods. A shipper can use a freight calculator to compute these measurements. It’s important to complete the math carefully. One number that’s slightly off could lead shippers to an incorrect NMFC code. 

See our article on freight density for more information on how it impacts shipping strategy.

4. Select the Correct Class Based On Density

After getting the density, shippers can pick the correct freight class for their shipment. The NMFTA classification system has various ranges. Classes go as low as 50 (least expensive), all the way to 500 (most expensive) at the highest. 

Generally, the lower the density, the higher the class and vice versa. It’s a good idea for shippers to check their work against information provided by the NMFTA. They provide lists that match item densities with the correct freight classes. Consulting this information will help shippers determine if they picked the right one. 

Our article on LTL freight class vs NMFC will show you the difference between these two terms and how they impact the shipping industry.

A palletized shipment in the back of a trailer

How Do NMFC Codes Affect Price?

There are four factors that determine how NFMC codes will impact the shipping price of certain commodities. 

These include:

  • Density
  • Handling needs
  • Stowability
  • Liability

Denser items, being more compact, often attract lower shipping rates. NMFC numbers for bulkier cargo that take up more space are more costly to transport. 

Handling requirements vary for different commodities. Goods that are harder to load or unload come with higher shipping expenses. The same is true for NMFC coded items that require special accommodations during transit. For example, perishable goods have to be kept in a temperature controlled environment. 

The stowability of freight refers to how easy or hard it is to load and transport cargo with other commodities. Businesses who ship items that are difficult to store with other loads are likely to spend more on transport costs. Goods that are easily stowed are much less expensive to ship.

Every kind of cargo carries some degree of liability during transit. Risky items that have a higher chance of being stolen, damaged, or could harm other types of freight have higher liability. As a result, shipping these goods can be quite costly. 

Dry van trailers and forklifts carrying palletized freight in a warehouse

Tips To Follow When Using NMFC Codes

Not including NMFC codes or using the wrong one for a load of freight can lead to dire consequences for shippers. Fortunately, following a few simple tips and good practices will ensure the right number is always given. 

Shippers should do the following when dealing with NMFC codes:

  • Stay updated on changes
  • Keep records of shipments
  • Package goods wisely
  • Consider palletizing items
  • Include NMFC codes on the BOL

Using these tips will make finding and using NMFC codes for each commodity easier to do. 

Stay Updated on NMFC Changes

NMFC codes are subject to updates and revisions. Typically, changes will occur during one of the NMFTA’s special sessions they hold three times a year. 

Reasons for these changes can include:

  • New products and categories
  • Re-evaluation of existing codes
  • Feedback and industry insights

If shippers don’t keep up with these updates, it’s possible they might end up using the wrong NMFC code after revisions have been made. 

A few ways shippers can keep track of NMFC changes include:

  • Attending NMFTA’s public sessions
  • Subscribing to updates
  • Engaging with industry forums
  • Reviewing codes regularly

By using these methods, shippers will stay in the know regarding any NMFC changes that occur. 

Keep Records of Shipments

Maintaining detailed records of shipments isn’t just a good suggestion—it’s an industry best practice. In regard to NMFC codes, keeping a log of all loads can be helpful for a variety of reasons. 

This includes:

  • Resolving disputes
  • Efficiency in repeat shipments

In case of disagreements with carriers or customers, having records on shipment NMFC codes will support a business’ case. Keeping a log will also help operational efficiency. For shippers that frequently transport the same type of cargo, old records will help them find the correct NMFC code for future shipments. 

Package Goods Wisely

The type of packaging used for commodities can have an effect NMFC codes. When measuring the weight of an item, shippers have to add in the weight of the box or other materials that will be used. 

The packaging used for a commodity will influence the density, and as a result, the NMFC code. Large and heavy materials can also make goods less stowable. This can make shipping cargo more expensive if packing material is unnecessarily heavy or large.

Packaging goods is also important for the safety of the commodity. We’ve included some data that shows why it’s essential. 

Freight Claims by Cause In the U.S.

YearInadequate packagingImproper PackagingVehicle AccidentWeatherOther

Provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

With the right packaging, you can save money on transport costs and prevent unnecessary damage to shipments of cargo. 

Consider Palletizing 

Pallets are a great way to provide a stable and safe foundation for goods during transit. These platforms also offer a few advantages in the context of NMFC codes. 

These include:

  • Reduced damage
  • Efficient loading and unloading
  • Optimized storage

The chances of cargo being damaged during transit is reduced since these platforms provide a stable foundation. Since liability is less when pallets are used, shippers will gain access to an NMFC number that can reduce their costs. 

Handling is a factor that can determine which NMFC codes are used for a commodity. By palletizing, goods are easier to load and unload. As a result, shippers could end up using a number that lowers their shipping expenses. 

Pallets travel very easily with other forms of cargo. This increases the stowability of the freight, which gives shippers access to more beneficial NMFC codes.

If you don’t want to use a pallet, then read our article on non-palletized freight. This is a great option when you’re shipping only a small amount of cargo. 

Include NMFC Codes On the BOL

The Bill of Lading (BOL) is a contract between the shipper and the carrier. It outlines the specifics of the cargo being transported. One crucial detail that’s often overlooked is the inclusion of NMFC codes on this document.

Providing these numbers lets carriers know what they’re transporting. This allows them to handle and load the cargo accordingly. Providing the NMFC code on the BOL also ensures the carrier won’t reclassify the freight. If a carrier does change this number without the shipper’s knowledge, it could result in higher transport expenses.

A BOL isn’t the only paperwork you’ll need when shipping. Read our article on the documents required for domestic shipping.  

Learn How To Find NMFC Codes with USA Truckload Shipping

Understanding the process for determining   NMFC codes can be a serious challenge. At USA Truckload, we have a team of logistics experts that will help you find the right number for your freight. All you have to do is schedule a consultation with one of our shipping professionals. You can also access some of our other services.

These include:

  • Truckload Shipping: A solution tailored for your bulk shipping needs, ensuring timely and secure delivery.
  • Drayage: Facilitating quick and efficient transport of goods over short distances, seamlessly connecting different transportation modes.
  • Expedited Freight: For those urgent shipments, we offer a swift, reliable, and time-bound service that prioritizes your cargo.

If you’re ready to use our services, then fill out your RFP today. Our team can also be reached at (866) 353-7178 if you have any questions or concerns. 

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