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What is the Federal Maritime Commission?

On Behalf of | Aug 9, 2023 | Maritime Law |

If you are involved in international ocean transportation, you may have heard of the Federal Maritime Commission, or FMC.

Federal Maritime Commission

The FMC is an independent federal agency that regulates the U.S. international ocean transportation system for the benefit of American exporters, importers and consumers. The FMC oversees agreements among ocean carriers and marine terminal operators, reviews service contracts, provides a forum for resolving disputes, ensures fair and reasonable rates and practices, licenses ocean transportation intermediaries and protects the public from financial harm and unfair practices.


The FMC was established by the Shipping Act of 1984, which was amended by the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998. The FMC also administers other statutes, such as the Foreign Shipping Practices Act of 1988, Section 19 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 and Sections 2 and 3 of Pub. L. No. 89-777.


The FMC consists of five commissioners who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate for 5-year terms. The FMC also has various bureaus and offices that carry out its functions, such as the Bureau of Trade Analysis, Bureau of Enforcement, Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services and the Office of Administrative Law Judges.

What do they do for me?

The FMC can help you with your shipping needs in several ways. For example, if you have a complaint or dispute with an ocean carrier, marine terminal operator or an ocean transportation intermediary, you can file a complaint with the FMC or use its alternative dispute resolution services.

The FMC can also provide you with information on service contracts, tariffs, agreements, licenses and other matters related to ocean transportation. You can access this information on the FMC’s website or its staff.

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