The business of shipping is as wide and it is varied and it is often the case that some activities are better handled by a specialist that has an in-depth knowledge of a particular niche of the industry. Providing comprehensive shipping services to shipowners and charterers, Agents bring that sought-after expertise to many organisational and administrative maritime activities.
With an extremely wide remit, agents can be employed to deal with ships calls at foreign ports (for example, arranging port services, berth readiness, stevedores and customs clearance), arrangements for the liner trade (for example, marketing the shipping line, ensuring paperwork for every consignment is correct and collecting payment for carriage of goods), freight forwarding, haulage, and warehousing.
This is a highly competitive industry and agencies rely on the expertise of their staff to retain contracts. To be successful, agents need to be well aware of local facilities and practices and are usually required to be on call 24 hours a day. Many higher education institutions offer formal qualifications in agency and professional qualifications are also available. Additionally, many of agencies offer schemes to encourage new entrants into the business, for example through graduate schemes.