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Beneficial Cargo Owner (BCO): Definition & Importance

July 17, 2019 Anna Young

Beneficial Cargo Owner (BCO)

Definition of BCO (Beneficial Cargo Owner)

BCO, beneficial cargo owner, is the party that ultimately owns the product being shipped.

intermodal trucks

A BCO is often thought of as a term used only in the NVOCC or freight forwarder market, where BCO is also known as the importer of record.

BCO is also important in the domestic intermodal market, although can be an issue for a shipper that utilizes a closely held freight broker and will keep them from being able to realize the benefits of domestic intermodal service.

The reason this is the case is the freight broker will be hesitant to provide the BCO fearing the  IMC, intermodal marketing company, will back-sell them and go direct to the shipper.

TO ALL FREIGHT BROKERS & LOGISTICS PROVIDERS:  The BCO is important and required at the time of quoting domestic intermodal is because it is required by the class I railroads for a contractual rate.  

The reason for the railroads' interest in the BCO is twofold:

  • To protect the incumbent IMC.
  • Ensure they are not competing against themselves on price.

For more on intermodal and how to leverage the freight service for a competitive advantage: 


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