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FMC Seeks Ways to Increase Usefulness of Tariff Publication Exemption for NVOCCs

Monday, December 26, 2011
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Federal Maritime Commission is requesting comments no later than March 26, 2012, on ways to make the tariff filing exemption provided to licensed non-vessel-operating common carriers more useful, including its possible extension to non-licensed foreign-based NVOCCs.

Effective April 18, 2011, the FMC removed from its regulations the requirement that licensed NVOCCs publish in tariffs the rates they charge for cargo shipments. Under this rule licensed NVOCCs who enter into negotiated rate arrangements with their customers will be exempted from the tariff rate publication requirement if they meet certain conditions. These include continuing to publish rules tariffs containing contractual terms and conditions governing shipments and providing those rules to the public free of charge, ensuring that the rates they charge are agreed to and memorialized in writing by the date cargo is received for shipment, and retaining documentation confirming the agreed rate and terms for five years and making that documentation available promptly to the FMC upon request. Such NVOCCs are also exempt from regulatory requirements regarding time volume rates, 30 days’ notice of tariff rate increases, carrier refunds due to a tariff error and adherence to published tariff rates.

NVOCCs have now been able to use NRAs for more than six months. The FMC is therefore inviting comments and information from all members of the interested public, including ocean common carriers, ocean transportation intermediaries, exporters and beneficial cargo owners, on ways to make the exemption more useful. The FMC states that comments that are specific and provide supporting data are most helpful.

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