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The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) voted 3-1 last week to approve a final rule which will relieve US-based licensed Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers (NVOCCs) from the requirement to publish a tariff containing all of its rates charged for cargo shipments.  As noted here, this decision was expected sometime this year.  The press release announcing the decision can be found here.  The FMC believes the rule will reduce regulatory burdens on the industry and will result in cost savings to shippers.  There are over 3,000 licensed NVOCCs in the United States.  The final rule will be published in the Federal Register this week and eligible NVOCCs may take advantage of the new rule 45 days after publication.  The rule contains several conditions NVOCCs must meet before being relieved of rate publication requirements.

First, only NVOCCs who enter into a negotiated rate arrangement with their customers will be exempt from publishing rates in tariffs.  Other conditions include:

  • NVOCCs must continue to publish a rules tariff which contains terms and conditions governing shipments;
  • NVOCCs must provide free access to the rules tariff to the public;
  • Rates charged must be agreed to and memorialized in writing by the date cargo is received for shipment; and
  • NVOCCs must retain documentation of the agreed rate for a period of five years, and must make that documentation available promptly to the Commission upon request.

At present, the rule only applies to US-based licensed NVOCCs but the Commission left open the possibility that the exemption could be extended to foreign-based unlicensed NVOCCs.