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Qualifying Individual (QI)

What is a Qualifying Individual (QI)?

In the U.S. ocean trades Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers (NVOCCs) and Ocean Freight Forwarders (OFFs) based in the U.S. must obtain a license from the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC).

In order to obtain these licenses, entities must have a Qualifying Individual (QI). A QI is an individual that: 
 
 - has at least three (3) years of experience working in the U.S. in the U.S. ocean trade lanes handling shipments for an FMC-licensed NVOCC, OFF, or Vessel-Operating Common Carrier (VOCC),  

- has the necessary character to render ocean transportation intermediary services, 

 - can provide three (3) professional references that have first-hand knowledge of the QIs experience working in the U.S. in the U.S. ocean trade lanes,

 - serves as an official company officer, and

 - remains employed as a company officer in the U.S. while the FMC license is held. 

NVOCCs outside the US that register with the FMC are not required to employ a Qualifying Individual (QI). 

Read on to learn more about QI Key Points and Obligations. 
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 Quick Law Links :  
U.S. Shipping Act: 46 U.S.C. § 40901
FMC Regulations: 46 C.F.R. § 515.11

   QI Key Points

Considering becoming or hiring a Qualifying Individual (QI)? Here are some key points to keep in mind.:

   COMPANY OWNERSHIP
A QI does not need to be a company shareholder. 

   COMPANY OFFICER
A QI must be an official company officer employed by the FMC-license applicant and listed in the applicant's corporate legal records. 

   BACKGROUND CHECK

The FMC will conduct a thorough review of the QI's background for bankruptcies, outstanding debts, legal matters, and prior violations of U.S. shipping laws. 

  QI REPLACEMENT
If a QI is no longer employed by the FMC-licensed entity, a replacement QI must be found and a license amendment application submitted to the FMC within 30 days.

  RELATED ENTITY REPORTING
The QI and the FMC-license applicant must provide the FMC with a complete list of companies that they have any ownership interest in. 

 QI Obligations

Qualifying Individuals (QIs) have a few obligations to keep in mind.: 

   NO PRE-LICENSE BUSINESS
QIs and FMC-license applicants may not start doing business as an Ocean Freight Forwarder (OFF) or Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) prior to obtaining an FMC license. 

   FMC CONTACT
The QI serves as the primary contact for FMC inquires and should be ready to respond promptly to any FMC enquiries received. Failure to respond timely may result in license revocation. 

   READ REGULATIONS 
The QI must certify that he or she has read the U.S. Shipping Act and related FMC regulations and will abide by them.  

   ONE TO ONE
A QI may not serve as the Qualifying Individual and / or an employee of two different entities at the same time. 

  PENALTY OF PERJURY
The FMC License Application is signed under penalty of perjury. If a QI misrepresents their background or experience, the FMC-licensed entity may lose their license
 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.

  Why become a Qualifying Individual (QI)? 

There are a few reasons why you may want to become a Qualifying Individual (QI).:  

1 - to obtain an Ocean Freight Forwarder (OFF) Licensee from the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), 

2 - to obtain a Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) License from the FMC, 

3 - to help your company keep an OFF or NVOCC FMC License in the event of a QI's departure or termination, or

4 - to enhance your resume by indicating to potential employers that you have successfully passed FMC's background review and may quickly be approved as a QI for another company. 

Read on to learn how DPI can help you become an FMC-approved Qualifying Individual. 
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How can DPI help?

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

Our expert staff is ready to assist companies seeking to obtain an FMC Licenses as an Ocean Freight Forwarder (OFF) or Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC). We offer members the following services: 

FMC License Handling for NVOCCs,
- FMC License Handling for OFFs, and
- FMC License Renewal and Update Reporting. 

Read on for more info. 


What we offer

   FMC License Application Handling - NVOCC

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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   FMC License Application Handling - OFF

DPI has assisted hundreds of companies successfully apply for and obtain Ocean Freight Forwarder (OFF) 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.

   FMC License Renewal & Update Reporting

All FMC License holders must report any changes to their Qualifying Individual, contact information, and organizational structure within 30 days to the FMC. This includes branch offices, changes to corporate officers, and additional related entities. 

The FMC also requires all license holders to complete an online license renewal process every three years. 

DPI regularly assist with update reporting and renewal processing. Our experts are familiar with all aspects of the update and renewal processes and will assist you in preparing the needed documentation.

For this service, we bill an hourly rate of US $60. Most update and renewal applications are completed in 1-2 hours. Replacement QI applications generally require 12 hours . 
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