A Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) is an intermediary in the transportation industry, which operates as an ocean carrier without owning or operating the actual vessels. NVOCCs consolidate smaller shipments into full containers, reserve space on ships owned by vessel-operating carriers, and issue their own House Bills of Lading.
NVOCCs are both the carriers and the shippers in a way because they function as carriers to transport goods for shippers and as shippers to arrange transportation with carriers. They negotiate shipping rates under their own tariff structures but must comply with any applicable local tariff requirement. For example, in the United States, they must adhere to tariffs filed with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC).
In the United States, similar to the requirements for a freight forwarder, an NVOCC is required to obtain an Ocean Transportation Intermediary (OTI) license and secure a bond from the FMC. Consequently, an NVOCC can interchangeably assume the role of a freight forwarder, provided it maintains an active and compliant OTI license and bond. Though NVOCCs typically don’t own warehouse space, some own their own fleet of containers.