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HMRC internal manual

Tonnage Tax Manual

Background material: Brokers and agents for shipping companies

Shipping brokers and agents may perform one or more of the functions below, the smaller firms tending to specialise in a particular function. The larger liner companies have development their own in-house departments with world-wide computer systems booking cargo and tracking ships. Many independent agents have become more specialised or have merged to form larger national or international groups.

Owner’s brokerAppointed by shipowner to find and negotiate fixtures (contracts) with potential shippers of cargo.

Charterer’s (cargo) brokerAppointed by shipper to seek a vessel and negotiate with owner’s broker.

Tanker brokerIn tanker trades it was customary for a single broker to act as an intermediary between charterer (oil company) and shipowner. More recently the oil majors use their own shipbroking departments to negotiate with owner’s broker.

Sale and purchase (S&P) brokerSpecialist S&P brokers deal with the sale and purchase of ships. The standard contract adopted by BIMCO (see

TTM15200), is called ‘Saleform1993’. There is a similar form for sale of a ship for scrap.

Port agentA port agent attends to the owner’s and ship’s business of husbandry, port services, such as repairs, victualling and bunkering, and assists the master with the organisation of cargo handling. There are companies specialising in world-wide services, providing co-ordination between ports, standardised fees and financial reporting.

Husbandry agent (ship manager)A husbandry agent attends to the non-cargo matters of the ship, its crew, repairs, provisioning and supplies, classification surveys, etc.

Specialised service agentVarious agencies specialise in the provision of tugs, supplies and spare parts, bunkers, receiving their commission from the sellers of such services.

General agentA general agent may have authority to seek cargo, disburse funds, select and appoint sub-agents and make operational decisions. He may also conclude charterparty negotiations, acting as ship operator in place of the owner.


Appointment of brokers and agents TTM15250
Commission to brokers and agents TTM15260