OTI Licensing

U.S. based companies or sole proprietors operating as Ocean Freight Forwarders (OFFs) 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. 

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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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    • The FMC will review your application and send conditional approval.

  3. Submit proof of financial responsibility. 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).

    • Surety references can be provided upon request.

  4. Submit Form FMC-1 and File a Tariff.

    • TDS will complete form FMC-1 on your behalf and file a tariff in our online tariff application.

    • Visit contact page for standard tariff services and pricing. 

FMC Contact Information for Licensing, Registration and/or Proof of Financial Responsibility ​​

FMC Phone: 202-523-5843

FMC Email: oti@fmc.gov

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NON U.S. Based NVOCCs - Registration Option

  1. Submit Form FMC-65: Foreign-based Unlicensed NVOCC Registration via email to otibonds@fmc.gov.

    • Submit FMC-1 and FMC-48 along with the FMC-65. See steps below for more information. ​

  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.

  3. Submit proof of financial responsibility.

    • Registered, Non U.S. based NVOCCs are required to submit proof of financial responsibility in the amount of $150,000.00.

    • Instruct your surety company to submit Form FMC-48: Ocean Transportation Intermediary Bond via email to bcl@fmc.gov and otibonds@fmc.gov

FMC Contact Information for Licensing, Registration and/or Proof of Financial Responsibility ​​

FMC Phone: 202-523-5843

FMC Email: oti@fmc.gov

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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.

  • The FMC will review your application and send conditional approval.

5. Submit proof of financial responsibility. 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.

  • A surety reference can be provided upon request.

6. Submit Form FMC-1 and File a Tariff. TDS will complete form FMC-1 on your behalf and file a tariff in our online tariff application.
• Visit contact page for standard tariff services and pricing. 

FMC Contact Information for Licensing, Registration and/or Proof of Financial Responsibility ​​

FMC Phone: 202-523-5843

FMC Email: oti@fmc.gov