The SCAC Code is essential for any carrier or transport company wanting to move cargo in and out of the US. In this blog, you’ll find out why the SCAC code is so useful, as well as how to get one. 

The SCAC code is used as an identification number for carriers moving goods through the United States. Without this code, you won’t be able to pass Customs and Border Control. The SCAC code also helps to automate your operations by registering all of your shipping documents in one place online. So you can track the whereabouts of your containers hassle-free. 

Looking to track containers without a SCAC code? No problem! Welcome to Container Control, where you can monitor containers in real-time, receive ETAs and streamline your container operations all in one place.

Interested to learn more? Get started by signing up for a free demo with one of our friendly experts today. Tracking container journeys from start to finish and increasing the efficiency of your operations is just a banner click away.

Track containers with SCAC code

What is a SCAC Code?

The Standard Carrier Alpha Code (or SCAC Code) is a unique two to four-letter code used to identify vessel operating common carriers (VOCC) in computer systems and shipping documents. This includes your freight bills, bills of lading, packing lists, and purchase orders

SCAC Code was developed in the 1960s by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) to computerize information and records. With the help of SCAC code you and your stakeholders don’t have to courier documents back-and-forth. If your computer system is optimized to use SCAC codes, you can access them with just a click.

Now that your documents are available quickly and easily, you can track your shipments at every stage of the journey. This makes keeping up-to-date with the whereabouts of containers so seamless that SCAC codes have become mandatory in the US. Today, the SCAC code is used to monitor transportation companies across road, rail, and sea.

What is a SCAC code?

Who needs a SCAC Code? 

The SCAC code is primarily used by the US government agencies, including the Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The code helps Customs to monitor carriers entering and exiting the country, as well as access important information about them. Thus, all carriers crossing the US border need a SCAC code to identify themselves correctly. 

In fact, the SCAC code is required by all transportation companies doing business with US government agencies. Let’s understand this using an example. 

Let’s say you import coconut milk to the US. To get your coconut milk across the border, you have to provide your carrier’s SCAC code to the US authorities. In this case, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CBP. 

The FDA will track the shipment to inspect coconut milk for contamination, bioterrorism, and public health emergencies. The CBP will use your SCAC code to clear the shipment from Customs. 

Many commercial shippers also use the SCAC code for freight bill audits and payment systems. This code is used in the automobile, petroleum, forestry, railroad and ocean container industries, among others.

SCAC groups for specific purposes

Certain groups of SCACs denote specific types of companies. 

  • Codes ending with ‘X’ indicate privately owned railroad cars.
  • Codes ending with ‘Z’ indicate truck chassis and trailers used in intermodal service.

SCAC Code list: How to check code for your carrier

SCAC codes for carriers are easily available online. Let’s take a look at the SCAC codes for some of the biggest international carriers now.

Carrier Name / Abbreviation Carrier Name  SCAC Code
CMA CGM Compagnie Maritime d’Affrètement Compagnie Generale 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

NOTE: SCAC codes may be subject to change without notice. To check for the up-to-date code of your carrier, you can enquire with the carrier directly or subscribe to the SCAC online data product by NMFTA.

Now that we have an idea of what a SCAC code is, let’s find out how it’s used in the shipping industry. 

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SCAC 2.0: How to get SCAC Code digitally in no time

Each SCAC code is assigned by the NMFTA. Whilst NMFTA have operated a manual system for decades, this has recently become completely digitized. The new digital system allows carriers to apply, reapply and manage their codes online in real-time.

There are a few exceptions. The NMFTA doesn’t provide codes for freight containers also used outside of North America, intermodal chassis and trailers, or non-railroad owned rail cars.

Once you log into the system, you’ll have access to the entire database of SCAC codes, which is updated in near-real time. You can also search by SCAC code, and view active and inactive codes in a matter of seconds.

For freight containers also operating outside North America

If your containers also operate outside the region, you should contact the Bureau International des Containers (BIC) in France.

How SCAC Codes automate your container operations

We mentioned earlier that the SCAC code computerized the transportation industry. One of the ways in which it brought about this change was by registering shipping documents electronically, as opposed to using paper. So how does this work?

It’s facilitated by a computerized communication system called Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). EDI is a computer-to-computer exchange of business documents between partners and stakeholders. It allows for the paperless transfer of important business information.

You can share all kinds of documents via EDI. Here are a couple of examples:

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

How does EDI simplify container operations?

When you use an EDI system, you’re able to reduce costs and avoid errors by replacing post and email with digitized versions of documents which are easy to access at any time. This helps to improve efficiency, foster trust and strengthen the relationships between business partners. 

Whether you’re a freight forwarder or carrier you’ll know that updating customers on their shipments is extremely time-consuming. What’s the container release status? Any changes to the ETA? And so the questions continue raining down on you.

Now, let’s imagine that you no longer have the stress of hundreds of phone calls and emails ticking in asking for updates. Instead, you can communicate to all stakeholders quickly and easily with just the click of a button. Convenience at it’s best!

What if we told you it’s possible to make this your reality, by using our Container Control platform? With Container Control, get a clear overview of all of the containers you’re moving, plus monitor their journeys in near-real time. 

Want to learn more? Click on the banner below to schedule your free demo now. You’ll get a sneak peek of Container Control and all of it’s useful features. Plus, learn how to keep track of your containers and streamline your container operations effortlessly today.

Track your containers

How to track your shipments without a SCAC Code

Don’t know the SCAC code but still want to track your shipments and manage updates? No problem. With Container Control, you don’t need a SCAC code to streamline your operations.

On our easy-to-use platform it’s possible to see which containers have been picked up, where they were taken, and when – simply log in and check anytime, from anywhere! This is because data is obtained straight from depots in near real-time. With full access to the status of your containers, you can reduce depot costs and demurrage and detention charges once and for all.

You can also find information like ETAs, point of discharge, free days, and per diems here. With complete transparency, you can monitor updates for every single container at any level of release. Use ETAs to keep customers in the loop, preempt potential issues and avoid disputes.

Container Control has other important features besides monitoring containers. With the booking manager keep track of all your bookings in one place. Plus, assign containers based on release references  – convenience at its best!

Learn how to simplify your container operations with Container xChange

Giving and receiving updates on shipments manually is almost a full-time job. A full-time job that you have to take care of alongside all your other admin. 

Luckily, Container Control is here to lighten your load. Interested to become a member on Container xChange and start tracking containers in near-real time? You’ll never have to worry about the whereabouts of your equipment again! So you can always be one step ahead.

Automating your container logistics will save you time and money. Plus just think of all those satisfied customers receiving regular, accurate updates on their shipments. So what are you waiting for? Get started monitoring your containers and streamlining your shipping operations right away by clicking below now.

Is a SCAC Code mandatory?

The SCAC Code is mandatory for all transportation companies and carriers entering and operating within the US. This is a 2 to 4-digit code essential in identifying carriers and transport companies entering and exiting the United States.

How do I find my SCAC Code?

You can get your SCAC Code by applying for it on the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA)’s website. The process is completely digitized, and allows carriers to apply, reapply and manage their codes online in real-time.

What is a SCAC Code?

The SCAC code, or Standard Carrier Alpha Code is a unique 2 to 4-letter code used to identify both carriers and transportation companies. The SCAC code of your carrier service registers your shipping documents using a computer system. So all of your freight bills, bills of lading, packing lists and purchase orders are digitized for easy access.