Abbreviation for Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier

What is an NVOCC?

NVOCC is originally a North-American term. refers to forwarders or transporters with similar sales activity to ship-owners, but who do not actually own any merchant vessels. The solution to this problem lies in renting space on boats. Maritime containers are the favoured form of for NVOCCs. They purchase them from maritime companies, and sell them back to customers. Those who buy space are mostly forwarders.

The NVOCC is then in charge of transporting the goods - hence the signature of a transport contract substantiated by a personalised maritime . To maximise logistics, the groups together the goods belonging to various senders in one or several containers, and dispatches them towards the place of delivery, where the degrouping process can begin. This is why they are known as groupers.

They generally operate during the phase, and concludes a space contract with the . In concrete terms, the Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier () signs a transport contract.


Specificities of an NVOCC

  • NVOCCs are similar to maritime transporters. As such, they deliver a transport contract upon up the goods to be conveyed.
  • NVOCCs guarantee door-to-door logistics.
  • Their main customers are ship-owners and maritime agents in charge of transport, as well as loaders, forwarders and transport commissioners.
  • Stakeholders within the NVOCC field work autonomously in a worldwide environment.
  • Their professional responsibility is the same as that of maritime transporters.
  • As such, they are guaranteed payment, and can retain goods with a view to recovering their dues.
  • This being said, they are liable for the goods - unless they can prove they were not the cause of the damage.


Examples and practical applications

  • The NVOCC is a multi-modal transport company with no transport means of their own. Conveyance operations are subcontracted, and they act as the transport commissioner.
  • The NVOCC thus delivers a printed with their own name to customers: the original “House Bill of Lading”, named like that because the heading includes the NVOCC’s information and contact details.
  • On the other hand, the subcontractor (maritime transporter) delivers a known as the “Master Bill of Lading”, which is the main one.
  • In the maritime transporter’s eyes, the NVOCC is the loading agent - but in the good owner’s eyes, they are the transporter.
  • The NVOCC is legally liable for the goods, as is the maritime transporter.
  • They are free to make the logistical choices they deem appropriate when organising transport - and act in their own name.
  • The goods are grouped into a container, loaded onto ships and unbundled upon arrival at the end destination.


NVOCC in figures

Goods transported via maritime routes throughout the world

  • The of goods throughout the world represents a total of 10.7 billion tonnes.
  • The forecast is +14% by 2050.
  • Tonnage rose from 2.5 billion tonnes in 1970 to 8.4 billion tonnes in 2010.
  • 90% of world trade is carried out via .
  • If nothing is done, and history says nothing will (see 2018 international maritime organisation agreements), could concentrate 17% of all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

(Sources: planetocospe and


Regulatory cornerstones

  • International maritime conventions
  • Private contracts (charter party, maritime , charter party , TVR), partial space agreement
  • National law
  • TIR Geneva Convention from 14 November 1975, applied as of 1978 (, go to transport/transport border crossings and , publications)
  • Maritime law
  • Code
  • Maritime insurance