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Echo Presents an Essential Guide to NMFC Updates

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National Motor Freight Classifications, or NMFC codes, are an industry-wide standard for simplifying the process of balancing different commodities and calculating shipping costs. This numerical system organizes commodities into one of 18 different freight classes, from a low class of 50 to a high of 500 based on four characteristics:

  • Density: Density, the space an item occupies based on its weight, is determined by dividing the item’s weight by its volume. The denser your freight, the less it will cost per pound to ship.
  • Liability: Liability depends on the likelihood of freight being damaged or targeted for theft. Commodities considered highly valuable, perishable, or combustible receive a higher class.
  • Stowability: If freight is difficult to pack with other items in a trailer, its classification may be raised. Also, items under specific regulation may not be allowed to ship with other items.
  • Handling: If loading or unloading freight requires special equipment due to weight, shape, fragility, or contents, it can be assigned a higher class.

These classifications are created and managed by the Freight Classification Development Council (FCDC) and impact all LTL shippers and carriers. A few times a year, the FCDC makes important changes and classification adjustments. The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) publishes these changes in its existing classification catalog.

In December 2023, numerous classification changes went into effect:

  • Foodstuffs
    • Notes 73262 and 73263 are amended for clarification
    • New Note item 73264 is established to clarify the application of item 73260
    • New Note item 74096 is established to clarify the application of item 74095
  • Requirements for Fiberboard IBCs
    • The requirements are standardized by updating the specifications in Item 280, Sec. 3
    • Numerous numbered packages are cancelled with no further application, and their references are removed from the articles section of the NMFC
    • Several Notes are also canceled as having no further application
  • Wallboard group
    • All items subject to the Wallboard Group are canceled with reference to new item 193700, with classes predicated on greatest dimension and density
    • New Note item 70966 is established to provide additional packaging requirements
    • Item 70961 is canceled with no further application
  • Floor or wall covering and related articles
    • Item 70960 is canceled with reference to new Item 70965 with classes predicated on packaging and density
    • New Note item 70966 is established to provide additional packaging requirements
    • Note item 70961 is canceled with no further application
  • Boilers, furnaces, stoves, and related articles
    • Item 26520 is canceled with reference to new item 26510, with classes predicated on packaging and density
    • Items 26521 and 26522 are canceled with reference to new Notes, items 26511 and 26512, respectively
    • Subject to item 25400, items 26600 and 26620 are canceled with reference to new item 26630, naming “Incinerators, garbage, offal or rubbish, NOI,” at class 70
  • Barrels
    • All of the items subject to the barrels group are canceled with reference to new item 59500, with classes predicated on the FCDC’s standard 11-subprovision density scale
    • Notes, items 21742, 21782 and 21841 are canceled as having no further application, as is the generic heading, item 21700
    • Item 174611 is canceled with no further application
  • Washers, gaskets, or packing devices, forms or shapes
    • All of the items subject to the washers; gaskets; or packing devices, forms or shapes, other than packaging generic heading are canceled with reference to the full-scale, density-based provisions of item 194120
    • The generic heading, item 194000, is canceled with no further application
    • The indentation of item 194120 is adjusted accordingly
  • Grain or grain products
    • All items in the grain products group are canceled with reference to item 89230
    • Item 89490 is canceled with reference to item 89230 and to provisions otherwise applicable
    • The “viz.” listing in item 89230 is amended accordingly
    • Note 89314 is canceled with no further application
  • Burial case
    • Items 38805, 38808, 38890, 38900, 38910, 38920, 38930, 38935, 38940, 38963, 38970, 39030, 39040 and 39050 are canceled with reference to new item 41660, with classes predicated on a density break at 4 pcf
    • As modified, the description of item 41660 reads, “Caskets or Coffins, NOI; Boxes, Containers or Trays, burial, cremation or body transfer, NOI; or Grave Vaults, NOI”
    • Packages 170 and 2222 are canceled with no further application
  • Dental, hospital, medical, or surgical supply
    • Items 56536, 79265 and 80520 are canceled with reference to item 79250, with classes predicated on density breaks at 4 and 7 pcf
    • New Notes, items 79251, 79252, 79253 and 79254 are established to clarify the application of the new item
    • Notes, items 80521 and 80522 are canceled with no further application
    • As modified, reference to item 170 is added to the new item
  • Safes or safe or vault parts, fire or burglar proof
    • Items 172260, 172280, 172300, 172320 and 172340 are canceled with reference to new item 172350, naming “Safes or Vaults, or Parts thereof,” with classes predicated on a single density break at 15 pcf
    • The generic heading, item 172240, and Note, item 172282 are canceled with no further application
  • Furniture
    • Subject to item 79000 (i.e. Hammocks), items 92350 and 178565 are canceled with reference to item 79300, and the “viz.” listing in item 79300 is amended to name “Hammocks, NOI”
    • Note, item 92352 is cancelled as having no further application
  • Hazardous Materials
    • Item 540, Sec. 4 is amended to ensure compliance with the hazardous materials regulations in 49 CFR
    • As modified, previously removed language is maintained
  • Definition of or specification for crates
    • Item 245 is updated to provide clearer construction requirements for standard wood crates, requirements for metal crates, and updated specifications for wire-bound crates
  • Packing or packaging – general  
    • The FCDC voted to withdraw this proposal and continue research
    • The current provisions will continue to apply
  • Various
    • Notes, items 103301, 132461, 188962, 188964 and 190132 are canceled as having no further application
    • The reference to “loose” is also removed from sub 1 of item 189540
  • Amendments to various notes
    • The language of the Notes shown is amended to require the products to be “…protected by packing forms or other packaging materials so as to withstand the normal rigors of the less-than-truckload environment.”
  • Paper or paperboard
    • Item 154555 is canceled with reference to item 156600

Considering these many changes, staying informed is essential for navigating freight classification and avoiding unnecessary charges. Count on a logistics expert and trusted transportation management partner like Echo to help steer you through NMFC codes and freight regulations so every shipment arrives safely, securely, and on time.

Contact an Echo representative today at 800-354-7993 or info@echo.com or request a quote for a shipment.

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