What are Standard Freight Carrier Alpha Codes

Posted On 15th February 2015

The Standard Carrier Alpha Code (or SCAC) is a highly recognized four-letter code used to uniquely identify transportation companies. The code was developed by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association in the 1960s as a way of digitizing the industry. In fact, there are carriers who are not allowed to operate without maintaining a valid SCAC.

Standard Freight Carrier Alpha Codes are recognized by government agencies, other commercial shippers as well as carriers. In fact, it can be impossible for a transportation company to do business without these codes. The codes are used by different industries for different purposes.

For instance, in the petroleum industry, these standard freight carrier alpha codes are integrated into their software programs in order to facilitate quick and efficient processing of transfer orders, inventory management, and issuing of pipeline tickets. Commercial shipping companies use these codes to manage their payment systems.

There are different types of SCACs; each is reserved for a special group. You can easily identify the type of transportation company you are dealing with by looking at the code. Freight containers are allocated codes that end with “U” whereas privately owned railroad cards are allocated codes that end with “X”. Codes that end with “Z” are usually given to truck chassis and trailers.

It’s important to note that not all motor carriers require the SCAC code. The government has yet to enact any regulations that require SCAC documentation. However, since you will need the SCAC when doing business with commercial shippers and government agencies, it is important to register for one. The United States Customs and Border Protection has authorized the use of these codes for some of their systems such as the Automated Manifest (AMS) and Automated Commercial Environment (ACE).

Once you register for the SCAC, you will need to renew your registration annually. NMFTA will send a renewal notice at least 30 days before the due date to the transportation company. Application fees will vary, but it is usually around $68.00.

You can apply for or renew the standard freight carrier alpha code online. NMFA also accepts credit cards or fax payments. You will not be penalized for failing to renew your code. The code will just be canceled and given to another company if you do not renew.

To get a list of the valid standard carrier alpha codes, you can visit a directory published by the National Freight Traffic Association Inc. on their site. You are likely to get current information because the directory is updated on a quarterly basis and then reissued annually.

If you have any questions about Standard Freight Carrier Alpha Codes or want to learn more about how to obtain an LTL freight quote from some of the top shipping companies in the United States, contact FreightRun today.