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Carriers Have 30 Days to File New Service Contracts

Vessel operating common carriers, non-vessel-operating common carriers, and shippers are allowed to file initial service contracts with the Federal Maritime Commission up to 30 days after the agreement’s effective date.

This extended relief remains effective until June 1, 2021, and is intended to provide continued flexibility through the service contracting season which generally takes place annually between March and June.

The FMC has voted to initiate a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that will, if ultimately approved, make permanent the current temporary exemption.

Current FMC regulations require ocean carriers to file initial service contracts with the FMC before they are permitted to receive and move cargo under the terms of that contract. Service contract amendments may be filed up to 30 days after the commercial effective date of the amendment.

The FMC granted temporary regulatory relief that allowed ocean carriers to file initial service contracts up to 30 days after contract terms had been agreed to, to address COVID-related impacts to the supply chain.

Once the NPRM is in final form, and assuming a favorable interim Commission vote, then ocean container industry stakeholders will have the opportunity to share their views through a public comment period. The Commission will consider all public comments before voting on final regulatory actions.

“The health of the Nation’s economy requires a high performing supply chain system. Each of us should applaud the hard work and selflessness of those individuals who have kept essential goods flowing throughout this pandemic. Extending this relief on service contract filing deadlines through the upcoming negotiating season assures that carriers and shippers are able to continue to do business without running afoul of the law,” said Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye.

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