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Updated: Nov 1, 2023

Operating as an intermediary between shippers and ocean carriers can be a lucrative business. Companies providing shipping and logistics services to importers and exporters but do not operate their own ships are called Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers (NVOCCs). While there is no exact number because there is no central database, it is estimated that there are a significant number of unlicensed NVOCCs operating in the U.S. Atlantic Pacific Tariffs Inc. (AP Tariffs) joins hands with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission in encouraging NVOCCs to get licensed. Here are the top 5 reasons why it is better to become a licensed NVOCC: 1. An FMC license provides credibility and legitimacy to the business. This can be important when dealing with customers, partners, and other stakeholders who may require proof of compliance. 2. Licensed NVOCCs typically receive better rates from ocean carriers, which is crucial for success in this highly competitive industry. 3. Licensed NVOCCs have access to certain legal protections because they can issue their own bills of lading, which comes in handy in the event of disputes or claims. 4. The FMC has the authority to impose fines and penalties on unlicensed NVOCCs. Not knowing you violated a rule can get you fined as much as $14,149 per occurrence! 5. The FMC can issue cease and desist orders on unlicensed NVOCCs and this can disrupt business operations and damage the company's reputation. In summary, being a licensed NVOCC provides a range of advantages over being an unlicensed NVOCC, including credibility, flexibility in negotiating rates, legal protections, and enhanced reputation. AP Tariffs will help you get your license so you can have more opportunities for your business! Email us today at or schedule a 15-minute meeting here!

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

Many Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers (NVOCCs) find the process to get a license from the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission a complex and time-consuming task.

Worry no more because Atlantic Pacific Tariffs Inc. (AP Tariffs) will help make your licensing experience much easier!

Here are 7 simple steps to obtain an NVOCC license:

1. Have a valid business license for your company.

2. Obtain a bond or other form of financial responsibility as proof of their ability to pay for any damages that may occur during the shipment of goods.

3. Register with the FMC by submitting an application and paying a fee.

4. Submit evidence of financial responsibility

5. Designate an agent for service of process who can accept legal documents on the company's behalf. 6. Obtain additional licenses and certifications based on the types of services offered. 7. Maintain compliance -- (very important!) Did you know that not knowing and willful violation of the Shipping act can get you fined at most $14,149 per occurrence?

Becoming a licensed NVOCC requires a significant investment of time and resources, but it is necessary in order to operate legally and effectively in the industry.

Email us at so we can help you obtain your license now!

Set a 15-minute Zoom-based consultation with our FMC compliance experts here.

Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carriers (NVOCCs) and Ocean Freight Forwarders (OFFs) must meet compliance obligations before they can do business with Common Carriers, including Vessel-Operating Common Carriers (VOCCs).

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) reminded Common Carriers to verify that NVOCCs and OFFs are fully compliant with all applicable regulatory and statutory requirements before accepting or transporting cargo for their accounts. This includes meticulous checks regarding licensing, registration, tariffs, and financial responsibility. Failure to adhere to these obligations may result in serious consequences, including fines and penalties.

To ensure fair and responsible practices, VOCCs are also urged to verify the compliance status of NVOCCs before entering into any Service Contract with them. The FMC directs industry players to refer to specific guidelines provided in 46 C.F.R. § 530.6 for a comprehensive understanding.

Additionally, the FMC strongly prohibits NVOCCs from knowingly and willfully engaging in an NVOCC Service Arrangement with another NVOCC that does not meet all the necessary statutory and regulatory requirements. Violations of this prohibition, as stated in 46 C.F.R. § 531.6(c), will be taken seriously.

The FMC maintains comprehensive lists of licensed NVOCCs and OFFs, including foreign-based unlicensed NVOCCs that have registered, along with records of each NVOCC's tariff location. This information serves to facilitate compliance and ensure transparency within the sector.

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