Non-Vessel Operating Carriers

NVOCs (or NVOCCs) are contractors who undertake to arrange transport of goods, often from manufacturers’ premises to those of the end user, but the carrier does not own the ocean ships involved. In fact whilst the NVOC may often own the road vehicles used from factory to port, it is by no means unusual for the NVOC to own no form of transport at all and to contract-in the carriage at every stage.  Nevertheless, such a carrier accepts the liability as carrier and in the USA accepts it as a common carrier. NVOC operations began as an extension of freight forwarding when containerisation was first introduced.  The container line operators made great publicity about door-to-door transport but this only really applied to full container loads (FCLs).  Lines offered a less than container load (LCL) service to shippers with small consignments but tended to charge a minimum freight (e.g. one freight tonne).  Forwarders saw a niche for their services by negotiating a keen FCL rate from the line operators and then offering a per-kilo rate to shippers of small consignments.  The operating line gave the NVOC a bill of lading for a FCL with no details as to the contents and the NVOC gave each individual consignor a B/L covering his cargo item.  The NVOC has a correspondent at the discharging port to whom the FCL container is consigned and delivered to by the line.  The NVOC’s correspondent delivers each individual consignment to the respective bill of lading holders. Thus all the liabilities exclusions and exemptions which apply to carriers who actually operate ships apply equally to non-vessel operating carriers; and responsible practitioners in this branch of shipping business take care to have adequate insurance in order to meet any claims. The NVOC trade has now expanded to reach almost every destination in the world and NVOCs handle FCLs as well as LCL cargo.