Federal Maritime Commission

Seal of the Federal Maritime Commission

The United States Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is an independent federal agency based in Washington, D.C. that is responsible for the regulation of oceanborne international transportation of the U.S.[1] It is chaired by Michael A. Khouri.[2]


The FMC was established as an independent regulatory agency by Reorganization Plan No. 7, effective August 12, 1961. Prior to that time, the United States Federal Maritime Board was responsible for both the regulation of ocean commerce and the promotion of the United States Merchant Marine. Under the reorganization plan, the shipping laws of the U.S. were separated into two categories, regulatory and promotional. The newly created FMC was charged with the administration of the regulatory provisions of the shipping laws, while the promotional role was vested in the Maritime Administration (now part of the U.S. Department of Transportation).[3]

The passage of the Shipping Act of 1984 brought about a major deregulatory change in the regulatory regime facing shipping companies operating in the U.S. foreign commerce. The subsequent passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998, with its further deregulatory amendments and modifications to the Shipping Act of 1984, represented another pro-market shift in shipping regulation. The principle statutes or statutory provisions administered by the Commission are: the Shipping Act of 1984, the Foreign Shipping Practices Act of 1988, section 19 of the Merchant Marine Act, 1920, and Public Law 89-777.

Most of these statutes were amended by the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) of 1998,[4] which took effect on May 1, 1999.[5]



List of commissioners:[6]

Bureaus and officesEdit

List of bureaus and offices:[7]

  • Office of Equal Employment Opportunity
  • Office of the Inspector General
  • Office of the Administrative Law Judges
  • Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services
  • Office of the General Counsel
  • Office of The Secretary
  • Office of the Managing Director
    • Office of Budget and Finance
    • Office of Human Resources
    • Office of Information Technology
    • Office of Management Services
  • Bureau of Enforcement
  • Bureau of Certification and Licensing
  • Bureau of Trade Analysis
  • Area Representatives

Regulations of the FMCEdit

Regulations of the FMC are found at 46 C.F.R. Chapter IV.

Regulations concerning Ocean Transport Intermediaries.Edit


The FMC regulations regulate the activities of Ocean Transport Intermediaries (OTIs) in the US. The FMC regulations define OTI to include two classes of logistics service providers: (1) ocean freight forwarders and (2) non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs).[8]

The FMC regulations define "ocean freight forwarder" as a person that (i) in the United States, dispatches shipments from the United States via a common carrier and books or otherwise arranges space for those shipments on behalf of shippers and (ii) processes the documentation or performs related activities incident to those shipments.[9]

The FMC regulations define "NVOCC" as a common carrier that does not operate the vessels by which the ocean transportation is provided, and is a shipper in its relationship with an ocean common carrier.[10]

Licensing Requirements.

OTIs must be licensed by the FMC before they perform OTI services in the United States.[11] Requirements for licensing are found at 46 CFR §§ 515.11-515.27.


The FMC regulations define duties with which OTIs must comply at 46 CFR §§ 515.31-515.34.

Fees and Compensation.Edit

The FMC regulations set out certain rules regarding fees that freight forwarders may charge to their customers and compensation that freight forwarders may receive from carriers at 46 CFR §§ 515.41-515.91.

See alsoEdit

Responsibility for U.S. merchant shipping has been held by different federal agencies since 1917. For a history, see United States Shipping Board.


  1. ^ "About the FMC". US Government. Retrieved 2013-06-25.
  2. ^ https://www.fmc.gov/commissioners/michael-a-khouri/
  3. ^ "Agencies - Federal Maritime Commission". Federal Register. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  4. ^ FMC: The Ocean Shipping Reform Act: An Interim Status Report (June 2000). pdf, 48 p.
  5. ^ ""The Shipping Act of 2010": the Evolution Continues …". Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  6. ^ "Bureaus & Offices | The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC)". www.fmc.gov. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
  7. ^ "Bureaus & Offices | The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC)". www.fmc.gov. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
  8. ^ "eCFR — Code of Federal Regulations". www.ecfr.gov. Retrieved 2018-10-14.
  9. ^ "eCFR — Code of Federal Regulations". www.ecfr.gov. Retrieved 2018-10-14.
  10. ^ "eCFR — Code of Federal Regulations". www.ecfr.gov. Retrieved 2018-10-14.
  11. ^ "eCFR — Code of Federal Regulations". www.ecfr.gov. Retrieved 2018-10-14.

External linksEdit