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Apply for or make changes to a License or Request a Foreign Registration

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 may obtain a registration or license from the FMC.

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 applicant’s business structure, be an officer of the applicant’s corporation, the sole proprietor of a sole proprietorship, the manager or member in (respectively) a manager-managed or member-managed LLC, or a partner in a partnership.
    • The qualifying individual’s experience must have been gained in the United States.
  2. Submit electronically Form FMC-18: Application for a License as an Ocean Transportation Intermediary. It is recommended you complete the Paper Worksheet prior to the electronic application.
  3. After all Parts of the application have been completed and the application has been submitted, you must submit the required license application fee. It is recommended the application fee be paid by credit card using the online Pay For Services

Non-U.S.–based NVOCCs – Registration Option:

  1. Submit Form FMC-65: Foreign-based Unlicensed NVOCC Registration via email to otibonds@fmc.gov.
  2. Submit Form FMC-1: Carrier Tariff Registration – most registered NVOCCs use the services of a tariff publisher to assist with the submission of Form FMC-1. A list of tariff publishers can be supplied upon request. For questions regarding the Form FMC-1 please email FMC1@fmc.gov.
  3. Instruct your surety company to submit Form FMC-48: Ocean Transportation Intermediary Bond via email to bcl@fmc.gov and otibonds@fmc.gov.  See below for more information on Proof of Financial responsibility.

Non-U.S.–based NVOCCs – License Option:

  1. A non-U.S.-based NVOCC must establish a presence in the United States by opening and maintaining an unincorporated branch office that is resident in the U.S. and is qualified by the Secretary of State office (or equivalent) in the state/territory in which the company is located.
  2. Appoint a qualifying individual
    • A qualifying individual must have at least three years of demonstrable OTI experience in the U.S. trades that can be confirmed by the FMC and, be an officer of the company.
  3. Submit electronically Form FMC-18: Application for a License as an Ocean Transportation Intermediary. It is recommended you complete the Paper Worksheet prior to the electronic application.
  4. After all Parts of the application have been completed and the application has been submitted, you must submit the required license application fee. It is recommended the application fee be paid by credit card using the online Pay For Services

Reporting Changes to an existing License or Foreign Registration

Within 30 days of the change, Licensed or Registered NVOCCs and ocean freight forwarders must report changes to any information that was provided on their most recent application.  [§515.19(f) & §515.20] These changes should be sent to oti@fmc.gov. Commission staff will acknowledge receipt and advise if any further action is required.  It is important that a current email address is maintained on file with the Commission

Changes to Your Information

Form FMC-18 must be filed for any changes to a licensee:

  • Qualifying Individual (QI)
  • Company Name, including additions or removals of trade names
  • Business structure change (such as a conversion from a corporation to an LLC)
  • Addition of NVOCC or Ocean Freight Forwarding authority

Other changes to information reported on the original Form FMC-18 may be reported by an officer of the company via email to oti@fmc.gov.  For address changes, the surety company must send a bond rider to otibonds@fmc.gov.

Form FMC-65 must be filed by a non-U.S.-based-registered NVOCC if any information reported on the original Form FMC-65 has changed.

Submitting 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).

Licensed, Non-U.S.-based NVOCCs are required to submit proof of financial responsibility in the amount of $75,000.  A rider to the bond should list the qualifying branch address in the United States.

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

Contact Information

Licensing, Registration and/or Proof of Financial Responsibility

Phone: 202-523-5843

E-mail: oti@fmc.gov