NVOCC: Non Vessel Operating Common Carriers are marine transport operators without ships.
In practice, NVOCC collect cargo (goods), consolidate and deconsolidate the goods of various clients within the same container. That’s why they are also called consolidators.
In brief, they are transport capacity buyers who then sell that capacity to their own clients under their own liability.
NVOCC act as marine carriers in their relation to goods. They issue a transport document when they receive goods.
NVOCC manage logistics from start to finish like most marine carriers. They are in relation with shipowners or shipping agents for transportation on the one hand and shippers, freight forwarders and transport brokers who are their clients on the other.
People wishing to join the field of NVOCC will be required by companies to be able to work in a global environment, to be self-managing and proactive, to pay careful attention to details, to be able to manage and balance numerous priorities, to know how to work in a team and, finally, to have excellent writing skills, to be extremely articulate and to have an excellent command of at least one foreign language.
The bill of lading issued by NVOCC
NVOCC are multimodal transport entrepreneurs who do not own transport means and who offer shippers a door to door service by subcontracting the transport of the goods operations. On a legal aspect they play the role of freight forwarders for their clients.
In practice, NVOCC deliver a house bill of lading to their clients in their name. That document features a header with their company name and address. They give that bill of lading to the shipper and receive from their subcontractor (the actual marine carrier) a bill of lading which is essentially the same and called “Master Bill of Lading”.
For the marine carrier, NVOCC are shippers while they are carriers for the owners of the goods. The house bill of lading is signed by the NVOCC and the Master bill of lading is signed by the marine carrier.
This coexistence of two transport documents, one between the NVOCC and their client and the second between the NVOCC and the actual carrier raises issues. NVOCC appear, legally, as the marine carrier. Consignees will therefore litigate against them. NVOCC, once they have assumed liability as carriers with their client, have the opportunity to litigate against the actual marine carrier on the grounds of the contractual relation defined in the master bill of lading. But since this liability is purely contractual, these documents do not always necessarily refer to international agreements and do not contain the same conditions and transport clauses. These documents may also sometimes be signed ” as agent for the carrier” and not “as carrier”. This mention is an attempt to transfer risk and liability to the actual carrier.
Source: multiple Internet sources, specialized literature, testimonials (Pratic-Export, Pôle-emploi cards, Wikipedia, Onisep, CNRTL, Umep à la Page, etc.)