North America bills of lading standardized

The National Classification Committee of the National Motor Freight Traffic Association has voted to add the North American standard bill of lading (BOL) to the national motor freight classification (NMFC).

According to the association information, this standardized BOL has been a long time in coming. Although the industry has long accepted the principle that a uniform BOL would save shippers and carriers time and money, developing provisions that would be acceptable in the United States, Mexico, and Canada has been a difficult and time-consuming process.

The NMFC is known as the industry standard by carriers and shippers alike for the classification of goods for transportation in North America. In addition to the uniform BOL, the NMFC is also recognized as a standard for rules, packaging specifications, and other provisions that are used by shippers as well as carriers in North America. It provides both carriers and shippers with a point of departure by which to begin pricing negotiations, and it greatly simplifies the comparative evaluation of the transportability's of the many thousands of products moving in interstate, intrastate, and foreign commerce, according to the information.

In order to facilitate this comparison, commodities are grouped into one of 18 classes ranging from a low of class 50, to a high of class 500 -- based on an evaluation of four transportation characteristics: density, stowability, handling, and liability. The price for shipping goods is determined either collectively or independently by each carrier based on their own formulas, including distance, route, quantity as well as the class of the involved freight.

The NMFC is published in both a book from and as ClassIT, an online subscription service. For more information, click here.

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