Bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) signed into law.

assorted color cargo containers near body of water
Photo by Matthis on

In mid-June, President Biden signed a bipartisan bill to help US importers, exporters, freight forwarders, and other companies seeing high shipping costs and other problems since the start of the pandemic.

One highlight of the bill was to address the increasing demurrage and detention (D&D) charges which have skyrocketed in the past year. Common carriers under the new law, now have to certify that D&D charges comply with federal rules and regulations. The certification also requires common carrier invoices to include information (1) the applicable D&D rule on which the daily rate is based; (2) the applicable rate or rates per the applicable rule; (3) the total amount due; (4) the contact information for questions or requests for mitigation of fees; and (5) a statement that the common carrier’s performance did not cause or contribute to the underlying invoiced charges. The new bill requires this information, and if the common carrier does not provide the information in the invoice – then there is no obligation to pay the D&D charges.

Another highlight is the ability for individuals to submit complaints to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) about charges from a common carrier. The FMC is empowered to conduct a prompt investigation and the common carrier would have the burden of proof to establish reasonableness of any D&D charges.

In addition to addressing D&D charges, other parts of the OSRA require the FMC to: (1) define “unfair or unjust discriminatory methods”, (2) create a shipping exchange registry to provide certain services, such as mediation of contract disputes, (3) public disclosure and publication on the FMC website of false D&D invoices and quarterly reports, a (4) place for the public to submit complaints, concerns, reports of noncompliance, request for investigation, etc, and a (5) consumer affairs office to assist, mediate and facilitate challenges and disputes involving cargo shipments.

If you have any questions how the OSRA, and or would like to update your compliance program to address the new OSRA requirements – contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at