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Negotiated Rate Arrangement Exemption

Guidance for NVOCCs on How to Use Negotiated Rate Arrangements

Licensed Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carriers (NVOCCs) and Foreign-based Registered NVOCCs can take advantage of an exemption from the tariff rate publication requirements of the Shipping Act and the FMC’s regulations if they use a negotiated rate arrangement (NRA). To do so, an NVOCC must meet the conditions described below. 46 C.F.R. part 532 and 78 Fed. Reg. 42886 (Jul. 18, 2013).

What are NRAs?

NRAs are written and binding arrangements between a shipper and an licensed NVOCC to provide specific transportation service for a stated cargo quantity, from origin to destination, on and after a stated date or within a defined time frame. If an NVOCC uses NRAs and meets the conditions below, it need not publish that rate in the tariff it makes available to the public.

What Steps Must I Take to Use NRAs?

Follow these five steps to use NRAs that comply with the FMC’s rule:

  1. Available to NVOCCs only: The NRA rule currently applies only to NVOCCs.
     
  2. Post notice in tariff: An NVOCC wishing to use NRAs must post a prominent notice in its tariffs.
     
  3. End all tariff access charges: An NVOCC wishing to use NRAs must also provide the public with free electronic access to its tariffs that contain the rules governing shipments. Unless specifically exempted, all Commission rules for tariffs, including requirements to provide historical data, access date capability, and current tariff location information in Form FMC-1, continue to apply.
     
  4. Agree to an NRA in writing before receiving the cargo: An NVOCC and its shipper customer must agree to the NRA and memorialize it in writing before the relevant cargo is received by the NVOCC or its agent (including the originating carrier in the case of through transportation). An email or other written electronic communication is acceptable if it shows assent of both the NVOCC and the shipper.
     
  5. Keep your NRA documentation on file for 5 years: An NVOCC must retain documentation of the agreed rate for a period of five years, and must make that documentation available promptly to the Commission upon request. Failure to keep or timely produce original NRAs and associated records and written communications will disqualify an NVOCC from the exemption and may result in a Commission finding of violations of the Shipping Act.