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Negotiated Rate Arrangement (NRA)

A Negotiated Rate Arrangement (NRA) is a document regulated by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). It ensures that all ocean freight rates are documented and accepted before the cargo is loaded onto the vessel.

Negotiated Rate Arrangement (NRA)

What is a Negotiated Rate Arrangement?

A Negotiated Rate Arrangement (NRA) is a document that allows Flexport to meet FMC requirements and protect our client's proprietary business information. 

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) requires that all rates are documented and accepted, to protect the shipping public. To meet this requirement, and to protect our clients’ proprietary business information, Flexport uses the confidential Negotiated Rate Arrangement (NRA)

Without an NRA, the FMC requires that we file our clients’ rates in the publicly-available tariff database, where competitors may gain insight into your business. Using NRAs instead of the public tariff database allows us to keep this information private.

The NRA documents the basics of your shipment:

  • Dates:  NRA Offer Date / Effective Date / Expiration Date
  • Who:  Flexport and client information
  • What:  Nature of your goods
  • Where:  Origin / Destination / POL / POD
  • Rate:  Rate amount / Rate basis / Cargo quantity / Service type

The NRA must be in place prior to Flexport taking receipt of your cargo at origin.  Without an accepted NRA on file, Flexport cannot move your cargo.

How does Flexport issue NRAs?

The NRA is auto-generated when you book a shipment in the app, facilitated by the Accept the Negotiated Rate Agreement for This Shipment checkbox:

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Checking that box, and then clicking Confirm Your Booking, will accept and electronically sign that shipment’s NRA.

If you click the linked Negotiated Rate Agreement text, you can download a PDF copy of the NRA for that shipment; it’s also sent automatically via email every time you book a shipment. The NRA is always available within the Flexport app, too, so there’s no need to print or save the file. You can find it in the Documents section of the shipment. 

What is an NRA authorization letter?

If you book with us frequently, you may tire of having to accept each and every NRA. Flexport offers a solution to this problem: the NRA authorization letter

Signing this letter will relieve you of repetitive work and enable your Flexport team to move quickly to expedite shipments on your behalf. The ability to expedite shipments on your behalf becomes especially important when a shipment is ready at origin and the NRA has not been approved. Due to time zone differences, 24 hours can quickly be lost to deal with the red tape, but with an NRA authorization letter in place, we can approve the NRA immediately on your behalf and keep your cargo moving. 

Note: We will only book a shipment on your behalf if you give us the go-ahead to do so via email or in-app messaging.

Why do I receive multiple NRAs for the same shipment?

If anything changes with your shipment -- from the time of the initial NRA to the point when your cargo is actually ready -- we are required by the FMC to amend the first NRA and issue another NRA for your approval.

The FMC put this rule in place to protect the shipping public from unscrupulous service providers with the unintended consequence of creating more paperwork.

You typically see multiple NRAs in the following scenarios, all of which require that we cancel the initial NRA and issue a new one:

  • Your shipment is ready after the NRA expiration date.  The NRA has to be valid when Flexport takes receipt of your cargo.
  • Your vendor wants to ship from a different port than initially indicated. This happens often when your vendor’s factory is located in a different area than their headquarters.
  • Rates change from time of quote to actual movement of cargo. In a volatile market for freight rates, we always seek to get the best possible rates for our client.


If you have signed an NRA authorization letter, your Flexport team will be able to quickly make these changes and re-book your shipment, keeping your cargo on track. You will always receive the NRA in these cases, and it will be stored in the Flexport app as well.


Learn More 

Related Help Articles

Why Does My Shipment Need to be Re-quoted?

Who Do I Tell My Supplier is the Consignee on the Bill of Lading?

Related Glossary Terms

Bill of Lading (BOL or B/L) 

ISF (Importer Security Filing)

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