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About the Federal Maritime Commission

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is the independent federal agency responsible for regulating the U.S. international ocean transportation system for the benefit of U.S. exporters, importers, and the U.S. consumer.

The mission of the FMC is:

To foster a fair, efficient and reliable international ocean transportation system and to protect the public from unfair and deceptive practices.

The FMC ensures competitive and efficient ocean transportation services for the shipping public by:

  • Reviewing and monitoring agreements among ocean common carriers and marine terminal operators (MTOs) serving the U.S. foreign oceanborne trades to ensure that they do not cause substantial increases in transportation costs or decreases in transportation services
  • Maintaining and reviewing confidentially filed service contracts and Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) Service Arrangements to guard against detrimental effects to shipping
  • Providing a forum for exporters, importers, and other members of the shipping public to obtain relief from ocean shipping practices or disputes that impede the flow of commerce
  • Ensuring common carriers’ tariff rates and charges are published in private, automated tariff systems and electronically available
  • Monitoring rates, charges, and rules of government-owned or –controlled carriers to ensure they are just and reasonable
  • Taking action to address unfavorable conditions caused by foreign government or business practices in U.S. foreign shipping trades

The FMC protects the public from financial harm, and contributes to the integrity and security of the U.S. supply chain and transportation system by:

  • Helping resolve disputes involving shipment of cargo, personal or household goods, or disputes between cruise vessel operators and passengers
  • Investigating and ruling on complaints regarding rates, charges, classifications, and practices of common carriers, MTOs, and Ocean Transportation Intermediaries (OTIs), that violate the Shipping Act
  • Licensing shipping companies with appropriate character and adequate financial responsibility
  • Identifying and holding regulated entities accountable for mislabeling cargo shipped to or from the United States
  • Ensuring that cruise lines maintain financial responsibility to pay claims for personal injury or death, and to reimburse passengers when their cruise fails to sail

The principal statutes administered by the Commission, now codified in Title 46 of the U.S. Code at sections 40101 through 44106, are:

  • The Shipping Act of 1984, as amended by the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998
  • The Foreign Shipping Practices Act of 1988
  • Section 19 of the Merchant Marine Act, 1920
  • Sections 2 and 3 of Pub. L. No. 89-777, 80 stat.1350