A shipping agent is employed at a shipping port and provides all the services required by a visiting ship to ensure the ship’s stay runs smoothly.
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The role of a shipping agent begins before the ship arrives in port with the shipping agent organising a pilot, tugs and linemen who will help bring the ship into the port. The shipping agent ensures that a ship has the necessary berth in port and that all required paperwork, including customs paperwork, is completed.
When a ship arrives in port, the shipping agent's role includes bringing mail and local currency for the ship’s crew. The shipping agent organises the supplies needed for a ship’s crew to survive on the next leg of a journey.
Shipping agents have some responsibilities for organising the cargo to be carried by a ship and for making sure the necessary paperwork is completed for a ship to leave port. A shipping agent may pay bills on behalf of the ship’s owner when the ship departs from port.
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