When you’re moving long distance, there is a never-ending list of questions to answer and things to consider as you plan the big move. How much should you budget? What will you bring with you? How will you get to your new home? How will your stuff get to your new home?
What you may not think about—or even realize that you need to be thinking about at all—is freight class.
Freight class typically applies to commercial shipments, but depending on how you decide to transport your household goods, it may also apply to your long distance household move.
In this post, we’ll unpack freight class so it’s as easy as possible for those moving long distance to understand, including:
- LTL freight vs. moving companies
- What is freight class?
- Factors that determine freight class
- Does freight class matter for household moves?
Let’s jump in.
LTL Freight vs. Moving Companies
Before we dig into whether freight class matters for household moves, it helps to understand the difference between LTL freight service as opposed to a traditional moving service.
LTL freight is typically used for transporting commercial goods, but in some cases, it can be the perfect choice for shipping household goods as part of a move.
Shipping companies may offer both full-truckload (FTL) and less-than-truckload (LTL) services, but they will typically use LTL services to ship household goods like boxes and furniture because these items usually don’t take up a whole trucks’ worth of space. With LTL freight, your items will share space on the truck with other items traveling in the same direction, and the truck may be loaded multiple times throughout the journey. This is why packing is especially important if you’re shipping furniture or boxes via LTL freight—and it’s also why LTL freight shipping costs are typically lower than a full (or dedicated) moving truck.
TSI TIP: Some shipping companies, including TSI, will ship furniture using what is commonly referred to as “white glove” shipping services. White glove services include preparation of the furniture, indoor pickup and delivery, and limited liability coverage (with value-based insurance available). Boxes can be shipped through white glove service as well, but if you only have a few boxes to ship and you don’t need assistance with packing, flat rate box-and-ship services may be a better option.
Moving companies, on the other hand, typically use dedicated trucks that will carry just your items. They also offer indoor pickup and delivery, and can also take care of packing and even unpacking and assembly for an added fee if needed. Moving services like these are similar to white glove services offered by shipping companies like TSI, but can be more expensive.
Now that you understand the difference between LTL freight and professional movers, let’s take a closer look at freight class.
What is Freight Class?
Freight class is a standardized structure for classifying less-than-container load freight shipments based on certain characteristics. Developed by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association, there are 18 common freight classes into which all freight shipments fall.
Typically, lighter and easier-to-handle items will have a lower freight class, while heavier, high-value, or potentially dangerous cargo will have a higher freight class. Generally speaking, the higher the freight class, the higher the shipping costs.
Every item that is shipped via less-than-truckload (LTL) freight requires freight classification, including household goods. LTL shipments also need an National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) code, but this is not the same thing as freight class. Freight class refers to a category of items, while NMFC codes relate to specific commodities within a freight class.
Factors That Determine Freight Class
There are four factors that determine a shipment’s freight class:
- Density: The amount of space an item occupies relative to its weight, measured in pounds per cubic foot (PCF). The higher the PCF, the lower the freight class. This means that smaller, heavier items will have a lower freight class than bulky, light cargo.
- Ease of handling: Based on shape, fragility, and other hazards. The easier your cargo is to load, unload, and carry, the lower the freight class.
- Stowability: Some freight can’t be loaded together due to legal regulations or carrier policies. As a result, hazardous materials and oddly-shaped items (especially those that can’t be stacked within boxes or crates) will have a higher freight class.
- Liability: Valuable, perishable, and dangerous cargo is at greater risk of being stolen, as well as of being damaged by or causing damage to other items. Higher liability generally means a higher freight class, and higher shipping costs.
Does Freight Class Matter for Household Moves?
So, does freight class actually matter for household moves? It depends.
If you are moving locally or using a professional long distance moving company, freight class likely won’t matter.
If you are using LTL shipping to transport furniture and boxed household goods, then freight class will matter. However, the best shipping companies will know how to classify your household goods so that you—the end customer—likely won’t have to worry too much about freight class, reclassification, or higher fees, as long as you provide your shipper with an accurate list of what you are transporting.
When it comes to classifying household goods, things can be a bit murky. The definition of “household goods” is fairly vague, and can refer to anything from utensils to appliances to furniture. While freight class will ultimately depend on the four factors noted above, here are some classifications for common household goods:
|Bamboo furniture, mattress and box spring, or televisions||250|
|Clothing, couches, and stuffed furniture||175|
|Cabinets and framed art||110|
|Computers, monitors, and fridges||92.5|
Freight class may not be the first thing you think about when you’re planning a long distance move, if it even crosses your mind at all.
In most circumstances, you likely won’t have to worry too much about freight class, especially if you’re moving locally, using professional long distance movers, or you’re working with an experienced LTL shipping company like TSI.
Freight class does matter if you’re shipping boxed items and furniture through an LTL or ground freight shipper, so in this case, it’s always best to work with an experienced shipping company that can help you determine freight class so you can avoid any costly reclassification fees.
TSI specializes in transporting household goods and managing long distance small moves. We can help you organize your entire move or shipment and we’ll oversee the process from start to finish, whether you’re shipping a single piano, an antique table and chairs, or an entire 3-bedroom home’s worth of boxes and furniture.
Moving long distance?
TSI specializes in long distance moves, including managing freight class.