Ship-brokerage today is an integral part of commercial shipping. Ships are chartered everyday through ship-brokers for the carriage of cargo worldwide. Ship-brokerage firms may be found around the world. Major shipbroking centers include: London, New York, Oslo, Shanghai, HongKong, Stamford/Greenwich Connecticut, Houston, Singapore and Hamburg.
There are five major types of ship-brokers:
Ship Owner Broker- whose job is to arrange the most profitable employment of vessels that the "shipowner" owns or controls (for example time-chartered ownership), within the requirements established by the shipowner.
Charterer Broker/ Cargo Broker- whose job is to arrange the most effective transportation of the principal’s cargo and / or to find the right ship at the right price.
Competitive Broker- a ship-broker that sometimes represents shipowners and sometimes charterers.
Tanker Broker - a ship-broker providing services in the energy sector.
Sale and Purchase Broker (SNP Broker)- a ship-broker who helps in the process of buying and selling of both new and secondhand ships.
Regardless of the type of broker, all ship brokers serve basic functions such as: helping the ship-broker's principals find ships/ charterers / cargoes, being aware of the current freight market conditions and be able to forecasting the freight market as best as possible, rendering an opinion on the business credibility of a potential shipowner or charterer, assisting in the negotiations of charter parties, preparing the formal charter party once a vessel has been fixed, preparing other documents (voyage estimates, hire statements, laytime and demurrage statements), assisting in the invoicing and collection of time charter hire and voyage charter freight, deadfreight and demurrage, acting as a communication conduit between the shipowner and the charterer, facilitating the amicable resolution of disputes between the shipowner and charterer that might arise out of the charter party performance.