Interpreting the Classifications for Your Various Product SKUs? NMFTA Can Help With That!

NMFTA - July 14, 2023

Many shippers and 3PLs who see the value of our NMFC classification system face a challenge we recognize well: Some of them deal with a very large number of products, and they struggle to find the time or capacity to work out the classifications for all of them.

NMFTA can help you with that.

Our staff is available on a per-hour basis to help shippers and 3PLs determine the proper classification for their products. All they have to do is send us the SKUs they want classified, along with a link to the product so our team can see what we’re classifying, and we’ll review the information and send back the classification.

It’s that simple!

One advantage of using the NMFTA team to help with classifications is that we have such a good understanding of how the system works – especially when it comes to streamlining categories.

“Take bicycles, for example, not electric bicycles,” said NMFTA’s Classification Manager Jeff Cooper who oversees interpretations. “Someone might ask what model it is, or what color, or whether it has a bell to ring. No matter the model, color, or accessories, if someone provides us 50 SKUs and they’re all bicycles, we compress that as much as we can and let them know how many hours it will take for one of our interpreters to classify the freight.”

The per-hour cost is $173, with the shipper or 3PL paying for the first hour up front and the rest upon completion.

As always, the classification is based on four factors – density, handling, stowability and liability. The class that is assigned to the applicable provision has already been reviewed before it was assigned to the NMFC. The interpreter provides the NMFC item per NMFC RULE Item 420 Sec. (5). This rule states, “in determining the applicable classification provision, a specific description takes precedence over a more general description provided the article or material being classified is actually embraced within the terms of the specific description, including any generic heading, subheading(s) and Note reference(s).”

Once done, the shippers and 3PLs are free to provide the classification information to their carriers.

And while NMFTA interpreters are focused on the products themselves, not the SKUs, the SKUs are critically important for shippers or 3PLs to keep things straight. Once NMFTA finishes the job, Cooper said, NMFTA sends back an Excel spreadsheet with the information, and the customer can then add that information to its system. At that point, users will be able to add the correct NMFC classification alongside the SKU in their system.

“If we send back information for, say, plastic rings, then when they pull up the SKU number for plastic rings it will tell them the NMFC item assigned to it,” he added.

To be clear: NMFTA is not able to assign single classifications by SKUs, at least for now. It has to be done product-by-product. But once done, the classifications can be used over the long term to save time in shipping, and to make sure carriers have the correct information for pricing and handling each product.

If your company sees value in getting this kind of help from NMFTA, contact Jeff Cooper at (703) 838-1869 or e-mail

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The National Motor Freight Traffic Association promotes, advances, and improves the welfare and interests of the motor carrier industry and less than truckload carriers operating in commerce, both domestically and/or internationally.

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