What is the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA)

The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) represents interstate, intrastate, and international motor carriers. NMFTA is a nonprofit voluntary membership organization. Since 1956, the NMFTA has served the interests of the motor carrier industry, specifically less-than-truckload carriers. 

The NMFTA is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, and helps set industry standards in commodity packaging and transport.

BREAKING DOWN National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA)

NMFTA is the publisher of the national motor freight classification (NMFC), which provides a comparison of all commodities shipped. The scale classifies products and groups them into one of eighteen classes. The designation has a basis on the density, handling, stability, and liability associated with any particular commodity. Used by both carriers and shippers, the NMFC is the standard for shipping negotiations.

The NMFC guidelines provide minimum packaging requirements to protect the particular goods and ensure the products can withstand the less-than-truckload environment. The publication contains the Uniform Straight Bill of Lading and a variety of rules regulating the packaging of commodities. Also included are procedures for the filing and disposition of claims and systems governing interline settlements.

Any transportation company that references the national motor freight classification (NMFC) in its contracts or rates is required to be a National Motor Freight Traffic Association participant or member. NMFTA membership involves the payment of an annual fee and the completion of a licensing agreement. The Association has an online version of the publication, called ClassIT, which provides additional features such as multiple search parameters, user- and company-defined synonyms, and package and shipment density calculators.

The NMFTA and the Standard Carrier Alpha Code

Since the 1960s, the NMFTA has created and managed a unique set of identifiers for transportation companies, called the Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC). The SCAC assigns two to four letter codes to each shipping company. 

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the United Nations EDIFACT system, and the Surface Transportation Board (STB) recognize the shipping standard. Also, The SCAC coding is mandatory when doing business with all U.S. government agencies and most commercial shippers. SCAC reserves specific codes for particular purposes. As an example, all freight containers’ codes end with the letter “U,” all privately owned railroad cars end with “X,” and "Z" identifies truck chassis and trailers used in intermodal service.

The NMFTA and the Standard Point Location Code

NMFTA further assigns a unique code to major geographic locations in North America which are involved with shipping and receiving goods. This location coding is the Standard Point Location Code (SPLC™). The classification is similar to the codes assigned to airports so individuals can quickly identify destinations. Each identifier is nine digits long and defines the region, state, province or territory, as well as county and area within the county.