North American standard bill of lading added to National Motor Freight Classification

by Canadian Shipper

Alexandria, VA — The National Classification Committee (NCC) has voted to add the North American Standard Bill of Lading to the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC).

The North American Standard Bill Lading has been a long time in coming. Although the industry has long accepted the principle that a uniform North American Bill of Lading would save shippers and carriers time and money, developing provisions that would be acceptable in all three countries has been a difficult and time-consuming process.

For example, the NABOL Committee was obliged to develop a standard for liability that would address the irreconcilability among the liability limitations within the United States, Canada and Mexico. Ultimately, this problem was addressed through the application of the laws of the country where the shipment originates. NABOL is not meant to change the substantive law of any country but, rather, to reflect it.

After 13 years of research, discussion, and negotiations, the NABOL Committee of the National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade decided to submit a proposal to the NCC for publication of the standardized international Bill of Lading they had developed. And in its May 2006 meeting the NCC accepted this proposed bill of lading form for publication as a convenient reference in the National Motor Freight Classification 100-AG.

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 Bill of Lading, 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.

The NMFC provides both carriers and shippers with a point of departure by which to begin pricing negotiations, and it simplifies the comparative evaluation of the transportability’s of the many thousands of products moving in interstate, intrastate and foreign commerce. 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 NCC and the National Motor Freight Traffic Association, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, develop and publish the NMFC in both a book form and as ClassIT, an online subscription service.

For more information go to or call 703-838-1810.

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