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Commission Seeking Comments on Co-Loading Definition and Tariff Access Fees

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A newly released Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) issued by the Federal Maritime Commission solicits public comment on whether carrier tariffs should be available free of charge and if the definition of co-loading should be changed to apply only to less than container loads.

The NPRM on Carrier Automated Tariffs (Docket No. 21-03) proposes a total of six major changes to Commission rules that are intended to ease requirements for engaging in commerce while increasing the transparency of business transactions.

The proposed change to tariff publication rules would require ocean carriers to post their tariffs free of charge on their websites.  Seven of the ten leading ocean carriers serving the United States already provide this service and the Commission believes that requiring universal free tariff publication would benefit the trade by providing more information to shippers on pricing when considering service options.

The Commission is proposing changing its regulations to change the definition of co-loading to apply only to less than container loads.  The change is intended to align Commission regulations with current industry practices.  The Commission is also proposing that documentation accompanying full container load shipments be annotated with the names of all non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs) associated with the cargo the container is carrying.

Three proposed changes would allow NVOCCs to cross-reference certain aspects of other carriers’ terms in their tariffs; clarify the ability of NVOCCs to reflect increases in certain charges passed through by other entities without notice; make other miscellaneous updates and clarifications to 46 Code of Federal Regulations Part 520.

The Commission issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on April 8, 2021, on these proposed changes. This document and the comments received can also be found in Docket No. 21-03.