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Federal Maritime Commission raising some user fees

The paper application cost of a new ocean transportation intermediary license will increase from $1,055 to $1,962.

   The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission will raise some of its user fees to bring them in line with the actual personnel cost to perform the services.
   The FMC’s authority to establish and adjust user fees is authorized by the 1952 Independent Offices Appropriation Act (IOAA). Under the IOAA, charges must be fair and based on the costs to the government, the value of the service to the recipient, the public policy or interest served and other relevant facts.
   The paper application fee for a new ocean transportation intermediary (OTI) license filed with the FMC will increase from $1,055 to $1,962, while the paper application fee for a change to an OTI license or license transfer will increase from $735 to $1,548. “These changes reflect increased review and processing times for these applications,” the FMC said. 
   Meanwhile, fees for electronically filed OTI license applications will remain the same: $250 for new OTI licenses and $125 for changes to an OTI license or license transfer. 
   “While the automated filing system allows users to file their applications electronically, the automated system for processing the applications is still under development,” the agency said, adding that as noted in the 2016 final rule, the fees for the electronic filing of OTI applications will be addressed by the FMC when the automated system is complete and operational, and the costs of the system and its impact on the review of OTI applications can be quantified.
   On the ocean passenger services side of the commission, the application fees for Certificates of Financial Responsibility for Indemnification of Passengers for Nonperformance of Transportation will increase from $2,284 to $3,272 for general applications, and from $1,224 to $1,652 for applications to add or substitute a vessel to the applicants fleet. For Certificates of Financial Responsibility to Meet Liability Incurred for Death or Injury to Passengers or Other Persons on Voyages, the application fees will be raised from $1,085 to $1,441 for general applications; and from $593 to $718 for applications to add or substitute a vessel to the applicants fleet. 
   The agency said it also will raise its filing fee for informal small claims from $85 to $106 due to the shift in some of the reviewing and processing time from the Office of the Secretary staff to the secretary.
   For records search and document duplication fees, the FMC said the hourly rate for document searches in response to Freedom of Information Act requests will increase from $27 to $52 per hour for administrative personnel and from $57 to $81 per hour for executive personnel. The minimum charge for a records search will increase from $27 to $31, while the fee for record reviews to determine whether they are exempt from disclosure will increase from $57 per hour to $105 per hour. Similarly, the FMC’s fees for duplicating records and documents will increase from $27 to $57 per hour and from $5 to $6 for the minimum duplication charge.
   Other fee increases include those covering certifying and validating documents filed with or issued by the commission ($84 to $124) and the application fee for non-attorneys seeking admission to practice before the commission ($153 to $208).
   However, the FMC said it will remove the $9 fee associated with being placed on a mailing list to receive all issuances related to a specific docket since these issuances are now posted in the electronic reading room on the agency’s website. 
   The FMC said the rule for the user fee changes will take effect Dec. 19, unless it receives “significant adverse comments” before Nov. 5. If significant adverse comments are received, the commission will publish a withdrawal of the rule in the Federal Register no later than Nov. 19.

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Chris Gillis

Located in the Washington, D.C. area, Chris Gillis primarily reports on regulatory and legislative topics that impact cross-border trade. He joined American Shipper in 1994, shortly after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., with a degree in international business and economics.