How to Apply for an OTI License

U.S.-based companies or sole proprietors operating as Ocean Freight Forwarders (OFF) or Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carriers (NVOCCs) are required to obtain a license from the FMC. Non-U.S.-based NVOCCs are not required, but may apply for a FMC-issued license.

Application Process for U.S.–based NVOCCs and OFFs:

  1. Appoint a qualifying individual:
    • A qualifying individual must have at least three years of demonstrable OTI experience and, depending on the business form, be an officer of the applicant's corporation, the sole proprietor, or a partner in a partnership.
    • The qualifying individual’s experience must have been gained in the United States.
  2. Submit electronically or print out and complete Form FMC-18: Application for a License as an Ocean Transportation Intermediary.
  3. Submit Form FMC-18 and the required license application fee.

Application Process for Non-U.S.–based NVOCCs that Chooses to be Licensed:

  1. Appoint a qualifying individual
    • A qualifying individual must have at least three years of demonstrable OTI experience and, depending on the business form, be an officer of the applicant's corporation, the sole proprietor, or a partner in a partnership.
    • The qualifying individual may have gained experience outside the U.S.
  2. Submit electronically or print out and complete Form FMC-18: Application for a License as an Ocean Transportation Intermediary.
  3. Submit Form FMC-18 and the required license application fee.
  4. A non-U.S.-based NVOCC must establish a presence in the United States such as an unincorporated branch office.

Changes to Your Information
Form FMC-18 must be filed if any of the following changes:

  • Change in qualifying individual
  • Name
  • Address
  • Business structure change
  • Additions or removals of trade names
  • Other changes to information reported on the original Form FMC-18

Submiting Proof of Financial Responsibility
Here are the three methods of submitting proof of financial responsibility (46 CFR Part 515 Subpart C) based on type of OTI:

    Licensed, U.S.-based NVOCCs and OFFs are required to submit proof of financial responsibility (most likely in the form of a surety bond), in the amount of $50,000 (for an ocean freight forwarder license) or $75,000 (for NVOCC license). For each unincorporated branch office in the United States performing OTI services, the OTI is required to increase its bond by $10,000 and provide the FMC with the addresses of those branch offices.

    Licensed, Non-U.S.-based NVOCCs are required to submit proof of financial responsibility in the amount of 75,000, plus $10,000 for each unincorporated branch office in the United States other than the one used to establish its presence.

    Non-U.S.-based NVOCCs, unless licensed, are required to submit proof of financial responsibility in the amount of $150,000; and are required to use a licensed OTI for any OTI services performed on its behalf in the United States.

 

Contact Information

Licensing and Proof of Financial Responsibility

Phone: 202-523-5787

Fax: 202-566-001

E-mail: bcl@fmc.gov

 

Forms & Applications

Automated Application for a License as an Ocean Transportation Intermediary (FMC-18)

Application for a License as an Ocean Transportation Intermediary (FMC-18)

Ocean Transportation Intermediary Bond (FMC-48

Optional Rider for Additional NVOCC Financial Responsibility (FMC-48A)

NVOCC Service Arrangement Registration (FMC-78)

Ocean Transportation Intermediary Group Bond Form (FMC-69)

Optional Rider for Additional NVOCC Financial Responsibility for Group Bonds (FMC-69A)