DPI's knowledge center 

Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC)

What is an NVOCC?

In the U.S. ocean trade lane, a Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC):

 - holds itself out to the public as a company that
 - provides transportation for cargo between the US and a foreign country by water 
 - for compensation 
 - without operating the vessel by which the transportation is provided.  

An NVOCC is a shipper in relationship with the underlying ocean carrier transporting the cargo and assumes responsibility for paying ocean freight and related charges. 

Read on to learn more about NVOCC Key Points and Obligations. 
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 Quick Law Links :  
U.S. Shipping Act: 46 U.S. Code § 40102(17) 
FMC Regulations: 46 CFR 515.2(k), (m)(2)

  NVOCC Key Points

When am I operating as an NVOCC? This is the most common question that we hear at DPI. 

You are generally operating as an NVOCC in the U.S. ocean trade lane in the following scenarios.: 

  When you re-sell full-container load (FCL) or less-than container load (LCL) ocean freight at a markup or profit, you are acting as an NVOCC.

   When you issue your own House Bill of Lading or other shipping documents in the name of your company, you are acting as an NVOCC.

  When you allow shipments to move under Service Contracts signed by your company whether you issue your House Bill of Lading or not, you are acting as an NVOCC.  

  When you are listed as Shipper on an ocean Bill of Lading for cargo that you do not own, you are acting as an NVOCC.

 NVOCC Obligations

NVOCCs must comply with the U.S. Shipping Act and U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) regulations. Here are a few key regulatory obligations to keep in mind.:
  NVOCCs must maintain an FMC license or registration (applicable to NVOCCs outside the US).  

   NVOCCs must maintain an NVOCC Bond in the amount of US$ 75,000 for licensed NVOCCs and US$ 150,000 for registered NVOCCs. 
 All surcharge or assessorial amounts applicable to an NRA are fixed once the first shipment is received by the NVOCC for transportation.


 An amendment and new shipper customer agreement to the amended NRA is required before applying updates to surcharges and assessorial.

  NVOCCs must publish and maintain an FMC Tariff containing all rules and terms applicable to their ocean freight rates. 

  NVOCCs must document their selling rates for ocean freight in an FMC Tariff, Negotiated Rate Arrangement, or NVOCC Service Arrangement

  Why become an NVOCC?  

Many companies obtain a Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) license or register as an NVOCC in order to: 

 - re-sell ocean freight rates for transportation between the US and foreign countries at a markup or profit, 

 - enter into Service Contracts with Vessel-Operating Common Carriers (VOCCs), also commonly referred to as Ocean Carriers, 

 - issue Bills of Lading or other shipping documents in their own company's name, and 
 
 - signify to clients and vendors that their company is a certified ocean transportation service provider recognized by the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission and listed on the FMC's official list of NVOCCs.  

The flexibility to set their own price for ocean freight rates instead of negotiating a forwarding fee and the ability to negotiate lower freight rates via Service Contracts with Ocean Carriers are often driving factors for companies to obtain the FMC NVOCC license or registration.   

Many NVOCCs offer other international logistics services to their clients such as air, trucking, or final-leg delivery.
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How can DPI help?

Since 1975, DPI has helped thousands of NVOCCs comply with U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) regulations. 

Our expert staff is ready to assist companies seeking to offer freight services as NVOCCs. We offer members the following NVOCC-specific services: 

- FMC License Application Handling,
- FMC Registration Handling,
- FMC Tariff Publication - Rules,
- Selling Rate Compliance, and
- NVOCC Bond Assistance.

We also provide expert assistance with FMC audits, regulatory consultation, and online training programs. 

Read on for more info. 
What we offer

   FMC License Application Handling

DPI has assisted hundreds of companies successfully apply for and obtain NVOCC licenses from the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC).

The application process includes detailed reporting of your company's organizational structure and management. Our experts are familiar with all aspects of the required reporting. and will assist you in preparing the needed documentation.

Once your application is prepared, we will handle submission and follow through with the FMC's Licensing Bureau. Most applications handled by DPI are approved by FMC within 60 days.

For this service, we bill an hourly rate of US $60. Most applications require 12 hours of staff time. Please be advised that an application fee of US $250 must be submitted to the FMC with each new application.
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Write your awesome label here.

   FMC Registration Handling

NVOCCs outside of the US that ship to or from the US must register with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). They must also advise the FMC of a legal agent for service of process in the US.

DPI can help prepare your registration application and serve as your company's legal agent for service of process here in the US.

While the FMC registration process is fairly straightforward, before you may begin NVOCC operations you must provide FMC with proof of your NVOCC bond and publish an FMC tariff that includes your House Bill of Lading terms.

With DPI's assistance you can be sure that all is in order for your company to begin NVOCC operations as soon as your registration is processed. We charge US $150 for registration handling. 

Read on for information about DPI's FMC Tariff publication and NVOCC bonding services. 

   FMC Tariff Publication - Rules 

NVOCCs must publish and maintain a tariff listing all charges, classifications, rules, and practices applicable to their U.S. ocean freight services. U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) tariff regulations require that tariffs meet detailed  formatting, record-keeping, and access requirements.  

DPI has published 
thousands of tariffs for clients all over the world. When you publish your tariff with DPI, we ensure more than just basic compliance with FMC tariff regulations. Our multilingual staff will recommend cost-effective tariff filing strategies and will be available to answer all your FMC-related questions.

Our secure online cloud database provides 24/7 access to your FMC tariff and makes requesting updates easy and efficient. 

For new NVOCCs, we will publish a tariff that provides all FMC required rules, the full text of your House Bill of Lading, and commonly used commercial regulations. If you have an existing tariff and would like to switch to our services, we can also assist.  

Our fees for initial tariff rules publication and annual tariff data base maintenance fee are very reasonable. We charge nominal filing fees per new or revised filing. For our full price list, click here
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Write your awesome label here.

   Selling Rate Compliance

U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) regulations require that all NVOCCs document their ocean freight selling rates. There are three options for this documentation:

a) FMC tariff rate filing,
b) Negotiated Rate Arrangements (NRAs), or
c) NVOCC Service Arrangement (NSAs)

FMC's tariff regulations require specific and time-sensitive rate documentation to ensure that rates are provided to shippers in a clear and timely manner. 

DPI offers compliance assistance for all three option - tariff rate filing, NRAs, and NSAs. Many of our NVOCC clients find that tariff rate filing is the most efficient option. Our staff are happy to review the three options with you and advise the most cost-effective compliance method for your organization.

Review our Knowledge Center for more information on NRAs and NSAs or contact us for more information today.

   NVOCC Bond

U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) regulations require that all NVOCCs maintain an NVOCC Bond. NVOCCs must also provide the FMC with proof of their NVOCC bond before they may commence NVOCC operations. 

Licensed NVOCCs must maintain a bond in the amount of US$ 75,000. Registered NVOCCs must maintain a bond in the amount of US$ 150,000. 

DPI is happy to recommend insurance agents and sureties qualified to handle your NVOCC bonding requirements.

Our staff will work with you and your bond agent to expedite all paperwork required to obtain speedy approval, so that you may begin operating as an NVOCC as soon as possible. 
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The annual fee for NRAMS is US$ 396 – this provides unlimited use for one User ID, with no transaction fees. DPI Members who qualify can begin using NRAMS very quickly. If your company's tariff is maintained at www.dpiusa.com you qualify. DPI already provides public access to your FMC tariff rules free of charge – this has been a standard part of our FMC tariff publishing services since May 1999. You will only need to add the NRA rule to your existing tariff, and agree to the terms and fees for NRAMS. Click on the button below or contact your DPI Account Representative to request the authorization agreement for NRAMS. We will send it to you promptly along with additional details that explain how NRAMS will provide you with a paperless solution for NRA management.

The FMC provides a web page that summarizes the NRA requirements and the steps an NVOCC must take in order to use NRAs. See our NRA Management System Information Sheet for a summary of NRAs and NRAMS.

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