A Standard Carrier Alpha Code is a two- to four-letter code that identifies particular transportation companies. It is used to monitor the transportation industry and standardize data associated with different carriers.
The SCAC code system was developed in the mid 1960s by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association to computerize information about transportation companies and cargo trafficking. These codes maintain and monitor the operations of motor, rail and sea transport services. All companies operating within the United States, whether through import or export, have SCAC codes for looking up and tracking. Companies handling a multitude of freight types use this system, including companies that handle petroleum, chemicals and commercial products. Government agencies also utilize this coding system; for example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration uses SCAC codes for tracking imported foods.
Specific letters within the SCAC system are reserved to denote certain parameters. For example, codes ending with the letter U are used to identify freight containers. The Directory of Standard Carrier Alpha Codes has a complete list of SCAC codes; the directory is available from the NMFTA and is updated quarterly and reissued annually. Directories for SCAC codes are also available online or by contacting the Data Distribution Service.