OTI Bond Program
Ocean Transportation Intermediary (OTI) ocean freight forwarders and non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOCCs) are required to submit acceptable proof of financial responsibility to the Commission. Although OTIs may submit surety bonds, guaranties or insurance as proof of financial responsibility, to date all such proof has been in the form of surety bonds.
Ocean freight forwarders are required to submit proof of financial responsibility in the amount of $50,000 plus $10,000 for each unincorporated branch office in the United States performing ocean freight forwarder services.
U.S.-based NVOCCs and 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 performing NVOCC services. Unlicensed non-U.S. based NVOCCs are required to submit proof of financial responsibility in the amount of $150,000.
Bonds must be underwritten by a surety company acceptable to the U.S. Department of Treasury and listed on their Listing of Approved Sureties (Department Circular 570). Bonds underwritten for individual OTIs must be submitted on Form FMC-48. The bond should be numbered by the surety and marked to indicate whether it is an NVOCC or ocean freight forwarder bond. The exact legal name, including trade name(s) should be entered as principal and the bond amount and effective date of the bond. The bond must be signed by both the OTI and the surety, and a current power of attorney attached giving permission to the surety representative to sign the bond. A group of OTIs may file Form FMC-69. Members are added and cancelled from Form FMC-69 by schedules filed to the bond.
NVOCCs wishing to serve in the U.S.-China trade may file Optional Rider for Additional NVOCC Financial Responsibility, to meet the Chinese government's financial responsibility requirements. This rider adds an additional $21,000 to the NVOCC bond. The rider amount is available to pay fines and penalties for activities in the U.S.-China trades imposed by the Chinese government. This rider is accepted as a convenience to U.S. NVOCCs and any questions about the NVOCC requirements of the Chinese government should be directed to that government. The Optional Rider for Additional NVOCC Financial Responsibility is filed by rider to Form 48 or Form FMC-69. If the underlying bond is cancelled, the rider is cancelled with the bond. The rider may be cancelled independent of the bond.
Bonds may be cancelled by either the surety or the OTI. The effective date of the cancellation is thirty days after receipt of the notice of cancellation. Licensed OTIs cannot maintain a license without active acceptable proof of financial responsibility, so if a bond is cancelled, the license will be revoked thirty days after receipt of the notice of cancellation by the Commission. An Order of Revocation is issued to the licensee and notice appears in the Federal Register. The OTI's name is removed from the list of active OTI's on the Commission's website. If the OTI is a NVOCC, its name is removed from the Commission's Form FMC-1 list. If a bond is cancelled for an unlicensed non-U.S. based NVOCC, there is no license to revoke, but the NVOCC's name is removed from the Commission's Form FMC-1 listing and OTI List. Inactive OTIs are prohibited from performing OTI services in the United States trades and may face substantial penalties should they perform such services.
At times the surety will issue a recession of the cancellation or the Commission will receive replacement coverage for the cancelled bond shortly after cancellation and revocation. If there has been no lapse in coverage and a reasonably short period of time has elapsed, the Commission generally will reissue the license and issue a Notice of Reissuance or a Recession of Revocation. If the entity has been removed from the Form FMC-1 List, a new FMC-1 will need to be filed.