A shipping agency or shipping agent is the designated person or agency held responsible for handling shipments and cargo, and the general interests of its customers, at ports and harbors worldwide, on behalf of ship owners, managers, and charterers. In some parts of the world, these agents are referred to as port agents or cargo brokers. There are several categories of shipping agents such as: port agents, liner agents, and own agencies, each rendering specific services depending on the shipping company they represent.
In other words, a ship agent is any person or company that carries out the functions of an agent, irrespective of whether they are in business as a ship agent, or they perform such functions as a adjunct to, or conjunction with, other activities such as ship owning or operating, providing cargo handling or similar.
Shipping agents will usually take care of all the regular routine tasks of a shipping company quickly and efficiently. They ensure that essential supplies, crew transfers, customs documentation, and various declarations are all arranged with the port authorities without delay. Quite often, they also provide the shipping company with updates and reports on activities at the destination port so that shipping companies have real-time information available to them while goods are in transit.
Tasks and Responsibilities
Briefly, the term shipping agent refers to the relationship between the principal (in this case the shipping company conveying the goods) and its representative, whereby the principal, expressly or impliedly, authorizes the agent to work under his control and on his behalf.
The responsibilities/competencies as well as the remuneration of the agent may be explicitly entered into a contract which has been concluded between himself and the ship owner.
Responsibilities of Shipping Agents Include:
- Liaisoning with Port / Customs / Immigration / Port health for smooth arrival and departure of vessel for quick turn around
- Ensuring a berth for the incoming ship
- Guiding the Master with pre-arrival documentation requirement.
- Arranging for the pilot and the tugs
- Drawing up the documents for the customs and harbour services
- Arranging for the necessary ship fresh water / provisions
- Arranging for the necessary doctor for the crew any medical assistance
- Arranging bunkers if these are needed
- Arranging for the necessary repairs
- Conveying instructions to and from the ship owner
- Organizing the supply, transport and the handling of the goods
- Organizing the necessary contacts with the stevedores
- Contacting shippers and the receivers of the goods
- Arranging Freight tax clearances for export vessels
All the Owners / Operators / Brokers of vessels are mostly located in Singapore / Hong Kong / Dubai etc, and getting Agency business only through our contacts only, since it is a Global business.
In some cases Buyers / Shippers can recommend/nominate their Agents to the Ship Owners, as per the Charter party terms.