On July 18, 2013, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) published a final rule that expands the tariff publication exemption to cover foreign-based unlicensed non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOCCs) that enter into Negotiated Rate Arrangements (NRAs) with their customers. The final rule also requires all foreign-based unlicensed NVOCCs to register with the FMC.

Generally, NVOCCs must publish their common carrier rates in a tariff, but licensed NVOCCs1 are exempted from this requirement when they comply with the rules governing NRAs (see 46 CFR Part 532). The final rule expands this exemption to foreign-based unlicensed NVOCCs in light of the new registration requirement in the rule.

Previously, there was no registration requirement or process for registering foreign-based unlicensed NVOCCs. Because the FMC did not have any data on these NVOCCs, it was concerned that expanding the tariff rate publication exemption may have a detrimental impact on commerce. Thus, the final rule requires all foreign-based unlicensed NVOCCs to register with the FMC before providing NVOCC services in the U.S. foreign trade. In addition, it requires registrations to be renewed every three years. The registration requirement will apply regardless of whether a foreign-based NVOCC chooses to enter into NRAs with its customers.

The final rule is effective as of July 18, 2013, but the FMC established a compliance date of October 17, 2013 for enforcement purposes.