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June 15, 2023

Unlocking the Importance of SCAC Code: Everything You Need to Know

Why do you need the standard carrier Alpha code? Why is it so important? The answer to this is very simple. The SCAC code is essential for you if you are a motor carrier or a transport company in the USA. If you want to move cargo in and out of the country, you are going to need the standard Alpha code. Also, it is used to track containers and motor vehicles that carry out commercial operations across state borders.

Defining The SCAC Code

You must have seen your Standard Carrier Alpha Code already. You probably did not pay attention to this unique two to four-letter coding/code that can be easily found on any of your shipping documents, bills of lading, and receipts.

The US government Agencies use and need the Standard Carrier Alpha Code to monitor carriers all across the country. Customs And Border Protection also need this code for the same purpose.

For example, if the Food And Drug Administration along with the Customs and Border Protection wants to track a vehicle that carries consumer goods or any other commodity that needs to be checked for contamination and other compliance standards, this code will prove to be useful. This is not all. Commercial shippers use the Standard Carrier Alpha Code to facilitate freight bill audits and payment systems.

Find out if you need the Standard Carrier Alpha Code or not by connecting with your third-party administrator or DOT compliance facilitator. The DOT compliance manager who has been assigned to your company should be able to give you a lot more clarity on this.

You must also remember that these codes can change without any notice. You can choose a third-party administrator and they will keep you updated regarding your SCAC formalities.

Let’s Have A Look At The SCAC Codes Of Popular International Carriers

Carrier Name / Abbreviation Carrier Name  SCAC Code
CMA CGM Compagnie Maritime d’Affrètement Compagnie Générale Maritime CMDU 
COSCO COSCO Container Lines COSU 
Emirates Emirates Shipping Line ESPU
Evergreen Evergreen Line EGLV
Hamburg Süd Hamburg Süd SUDU
Hapag Lloyd Hapag Lloyd Container Line HLCU 
K+N Kuehne + Nagel International AG KHNN
Maersk  Maersk Line MAEU 
Matson Matson Inc MATS
MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company  MSCU 
OOCL Orient Overseas Container Line OOLU
PIL Pacific International Lines PCIU
ZIM ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd ZIMU

Getting Your SCAC Code In No Time

The NMFTA which is the national motor freight traffic Association assigns a Standard Carrier Alpha Code to you. The system that the NMFTA follows has become completely digitized over the past few years. It is very easy for you to apply for your SCAC code online and get it delivered in real-time. But remember that there are a few exceptions. Containers that are used outside of North America will not be able to apply for this code. Also, if you operate intermodal chassis and trailers, or any non-railroad-owned rail cars, the SCAC will not be issued to you. You just have to log into the system and you will get access to the database of the various codes that are applicable. Locating active and inactive codes is also very easy using this database.

Helping You Automate Your Operations

The transportation industry has benefited a lot from the latest digitization of the entire SCAC code system. Now you will notice that your shipping documents get registered electronically. The computerized communication system which is also known as the electronic data interchange has made this possible. It is a computer-to-computer exchange of documents that happens between various stakeholders. It is the paperless transfer of critical business documents and information. The records that you can share using the electronic data interchange include the following:

  • Purchase orders
  • Advance ship notices
  • Bills of lading
  • Invoices
  • Customs documents
  • Inventory documents
  • Shipping status documents
  • Payment documents

4 Incredible Benefits Of Using Modern-Day Electronic Data Interchange For Container Operators

  • The EDI system allows you to reduce your costs and avoid any probable errors in your documents
  • As a freight forwarder or carrier, it becomes very easy for you to save more time when you are trying to update your customers on their shipments
  • Communicating with all stakeholders regarding the status of the container is digitized and fast
  • You can also get a clearer picture of where each one of your containers is in real-time

All this is made possible using your SCAC code only.

Does Your SCAC Code Expire?

That’s a very important question and it should be answered. Yes, it can expire. The trick is to automate the renewal of your code and the entire payment process as well. Your code can get lapsed which means that it is going to interfere with your ability to perform your business operations seamlessly. You can also ask your third-party administrator to remind you of the renewal every time it is due. This will make sure that your code is made available to you instantly in real time.

Multiple SCAC Code – This Is Possible As Well

If as per your business requirements, you need to maintain multiple SCAC codes, you can do that. You will have to get in touch with your third-party administrator or DOT compliance facilitator to understand how that is possible and all other critical things about SCAC in due time. As a freight forwarder, you are going to need this code to ship any of your containers to or through the US. If you work as a freight forwarder and a transport company as well, whether you qualify for multiple SCAC codes or not can be better explained to you only by your DOT compliance group.

Let’s Understand A Few SCAC Assignment Policies Laid Down By The Government And Federal Bodies

  1. Your Standard Carrier Alpha Code will be assigned to you based on the letters used in the name of your company. For example, if your business name begins with the letter B, your code will also begin with the letter B.
  2. It happens when a company has both a legal name and a trade name. The code is assigned to them based only on their trade name. The legal name is not shown on the certificate.
  3. You are allowed to apply for one SCAC code for each mode of operation that you perform. Just like you can hold an MC number in addition to an FF number, you can hold more than one SCAC code as well.
  4. Remember that if your company name does not match the records with the FMCSA or if any of your numbers which can be your USDOT, MC, MX, or FF are inactive, you must make the necessary changes before you apply for your SCAC code.

And To Remind You Once Again

It is always better to connect with your DOT compliance provider or third party administrator for these tasks and to find out more about SCAC and how it impacts your business. It is a part of your DOT compliance and if you fail to uphold it on time, it is only going to damage your reputation in the transport industry.

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