Overhaul of OTI Regulations Includes License Renewal, Definition Changes
Ocean transportation intermediaries will see a number of changes in their business from a regulatory overhaul slated to take effect Dec. 9. After nearly two years of work, the Federal Maritime Commission published Nov. 5 a final rule amending its OTI regulations in an effort to adapt to changing industry conditions, improve regulatory effectiveness, improve transparency, streamline processes and reduce regulatory burdens.
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg attorney Peggy Chaplin Louie, who has worked on FMC issues for many years, states that the revised regulations incorporate some OTI licensing practices that the FMC has been engaged in for some time, particularly with respect to evaluating the qualifications for an OTI’s qualifying individual. However, she added, the rule contains a number of significant changes as well, including the following.
- OTI licenses will be issued for three years and renewals must be filed electronically. The requirement to renew existing OTI licenses will be phased in over a three-year period beginning Dec. 9, 2016.
- Unincorporated branch offices do not have to be bonded for $10,000, but all incorporated entities do have to be licensed and bonded.
- All OTI license applications and registration forms must be made electronically unless the FMC issues a waiver.
- Each licensed OTI will have a single online location where the status of its compliance with FMC regulations can be quickly verified.
- An expedited hearing process for license denials, revocations and suspensions will be established.
- Foreign registered OTIs must use only FMC-licensed OTIs to provide OTI services in the U.S.
In addition, definitions of several terms have been eliminated from the OTI regulations as no longer necessary; e.g., “ocean freight brokers,” “brokerage” and “small shipment.” The definitions for “freight forwarding services” and “non-vessel common carrier services” are being expanded to cover preparation of documents used to transport cargo, whether or not they are equivalent to ocean bills of lading.
For more information on the scope of the FMC’s final rule and what it will mean for your business, please contact Peggy Chaplin Louie at (202) 730-4975.