Shipper. In the U.S. Shipping Act 1984 the “shipper” was defined as: “an owner or person for whose account the ocean transportation is provided or the person to whom delivery is to be made.”
In recent years a variety of entities emerged as intermediaries between the shipper of the goods and the provider of the transport services, in this case taken to be the ocean carrier. These include NVOCCs, freight forwarders, shippers’ associations, transportation brokers and export trading companies. Such intermediaries were reselling transportation to customers and it became difficult for the ocean carrier to determine who was actually the “shipper”. Accordingly, in 1990, the United States Government changed the definition to:
“‘Shipper’ means the person who is legally responsible to pay the ocean common carrier for the transportation. Depending on the transportation arrangement, the term may include the owner of the cargo, a consignor, a consignee, or a tariffed non vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC). The term does not include an agent of the shipper, an ocean freight forwarder, a broker or a person acting as a NVOCC without a tariff on file with the Commission.”
It was intended that the redefinition would include only the person who is legally responsible for the payment of the ocean transport charges. This was also intended to limit the scope of those who could act as “shippers” using the services of the carrier. Under the U.S. Shipping Act 1984, all carriers are required to file their tariff with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), and if NVOCCs are to act as “earners” as far as their clients are concerned but as “shippers” as far as the ocean earners are concerned, they must also file their tariff.
In short, the shipper is the person who places his cargo in the care of the carrier and pays for the service.