Man and woman unloading boxed LTL freight from a van

What freight classes are, and how less than truckload carriers use them.


Freight classes are a numeric system used by LTL (less than truckload) carriers to categorize a piece of cargo. It is based on the density, stow-ability, handling requirements, and liability of the LTL freight. Or its “transportability”. The class is printed on the bill of lading. This tells the carrier the level of care required to handle the cargo.

  • Density – The space a piece of freight takes up in relation to its weight.
  • Stowability – How well a piece of freight can be shipped with other freight on the trailer.
  • Handling requirements – The level of difficulty and method required to handle a piece of freight.
  • Liability – How valuable and prone to damage a piece of freight is.

There are 18 freight classes; class 50 through class 500. Generally, as classes get higher, they become less “transportable” and more expensive to ship. This is because the LTL freight carrier must take more time and effort to handle the cargo properly.

Please know that freight classes ONLY apply to LTL (Less Than Truckload) shipments.

How do I determine my freight class? 

There are free tools available online to estimate your freight class. However, know these only offer estimates. It is a good idea to reach out to us with the specifics of your cargo so we can confirm what class it should be. This will help you avoid costly fees that the freight carrier will apply if the class is wrong. There are many variables that can affect your class. The more we know about what you are shipping, the more accurately we will be able to determine your class.

What if my freight is unique or extra fragile?

There are exceptions and unique situations that can arise which will affect the LTL class. For example, very special commodities may have their own class. To be sure, it is best to reach out to the professionals at New Light who will gladly help you out.