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This apprenticeship standard is in development and is not yet ready to use

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Port agent

Reference Number: ST0544

Details of standard

This apprenticeship standard is currently in development and its contents are subject to change

Occupation summary

This occupation is found in the shipping industry and located in ports.

The broad purpose of the occupation is to represent the vessel operators / owners to facilitate the safe and efficient arrival, working, and departure of their vessels in a port.

In their daily work, a Port Agent is appointed by a Principal, who might be the vessel owner or vessel operator, and could be situated anywhere in the world. The Port Agent must work to the overall instruction of the Principal. The Port Agent will liaise with the ship's Captain and crew who may be of any nationality. The scale and purpose of ports varies considerably, with each port effectively being unique. The Port Agent will identify and interact with all parties involved in each port such as importers and/or exporters, the port authority, terminal operator, stevedores, government authorities (HMRC, Border Force, Port Health, Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Immigration), Marine Pilots, Harbourmasters, Docking masters, company representatives, local ship providores, repairers and maritime equipment suppliers.

An employee in this occupation will be responsible for safe and efficient arrival, working and departure of a vessel in the port, which may require out of hours working therefore their level of autonomy is generally very high although they report to their internal manager and to the vessel operator or owner. They may work alone at times and as a member of a team and the role will likely involve working unsociable hours. A Port Agent’s typical workplace includes working in and around the port in all weathers, and on-board vessels whilst they are in port as well as in the office. A Port Agent must deliver on the operational aspects of an agreed agency agreement but they are not typically required to negotiate an agency agreement or obtain new work for their organisation; this is instead the responsibility of a senior Port Agent or a sales/business development manager who form part of the wider team.

Typical job titles

Typical job titles include . Port Agent, ship's agent, boarding clerk

Entry requirements

Individual employers will determine their own entry requirements; but due to the nature of the role requiring periods of physical exertion, safe travel to and within ports, it is expected that candidates will meet certain medical standards of physical health and it is highly likely they will hold a standard drivers licence.

Occupation duties



Duty 1 Following the agreed commercial agency agreement, book a vessel in and out of port, including co-ordinating the berthing plan with all parties involved such as the port authority

K1 K2 K3 K4

S1 S2 S3 S4 S5

B1 B2 B3

Duty 2 Arrange marine pilots and tugboat services, as appropriate, in order to ensure safe arrival and/or departure of the vessel; liaising with other key stakeholders as necessary in the individual Port, such as but not limited to Harbour Masters, Tug Boat operators, Marine Pilots, Docking Masters and company representatives

K1 K2 K3

S3 S4 S5

B1 B2 B3

Duty 3 Report a vessel’s arrival and departure to vessel operator / owner and any other interested parties such as cargo interests

K1 K2 K4 K9

S5 S6

B1 B2 B3 B4

Duty 4 Ensure the vessel is compliant on arrival and/or departure by providing all required information on crew and passengers to local authorities such as Immigration, Border Force, Customs and Port Health

K1 K4 K5 K6 K7

S5 S6 S7


Duty 5 Meet legislative requirements and accountability by advising Customs of vessels arrival and departure and reporting cargo including all required documentation

K1 K5

S1 S2 S6 S7

B1 B2

Duty 6 Co-ordinate a suitable terminal and stevedoring services for the type of vessel and cargo to ensure appropriate plans are in place for the safe and timely movement of cargo on and off the vessel

K3 K4

S3 S4 S5 S6

B1 B2

Duty 7 Liaise with all key stakeholders particular in the individual port to ensure co-ordination and agreement of a cargo plan between the ship and terminal/stevedore to ensure the safe loading / discharge of cargo

K3 K4 K6 K8

S3 S4 S5 S6

B1 B2 B5

Duty 8 Maintaining an overview of cargo loading or discharging operations in order to ensure that there are no delays, mitigate any issues that arise and report progress to the ship operator, charterer and/or owner, cargo interests, next agent and any other interested parties

K1 K3 K4 K6 K8 K9

S3 S4 S5 S6 S8

B1 B2 B3 B5 B6

Duty 9 Arrange provision of stores, fuel, spare parts, drinking water or any other requirements for the vessel prior to arrival or during the port stay.

K1 K4 K8 K10

S3 S5 S6

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5

Duty 10 Ensure the efficient running of the vessel by planning and organising any crew changes with the ship manager and Captain of the vessel, in line with relevant Customs regulations

K1 K4 K5 K6 K7 K10

S2 S3 S5 S6 S7

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5

Duty 11 Arrange cash from the ship operator / owner to the Captain to provide the Captain with a suitable cash float.

K6 K11

S5 S6 S8

B1 B2 B4 B5

Duty 12 Continually update all interested parties and keep them informed on the prospects prior to arrival at port and on the progress of vessel / operations whilst in port to meet reporting formalities and allow for smooth next port arrangements.

K1 K2 K3 K4 K7 K8 K10

S3 S6

B1 B2 B3 B4 B6

Duty 13 Complete the “statement of fact” – keeping track of all activities concerning the ship from the moment it has arrived at port until the completion of all cargo operations and the departure of the ship, thereby accurately recording the vessels operations and any delays.

K3 K4 K12

S3 S4 S6 S8

B2 B6

Duty 14 Complete the vessel’s disbursement account to the vessel operator / owner – compiling all the invoices incurred in the vessel’s call at the port

K1 K3 K4 K10 K11 K13 K14

S6 S8

B2 B3 B4 B6




K1: Understand local agencies, regulatory authorities and their roles and potential requirements.

K2: Understand local port / harbour authority specific on-line vessel / port information systems and required (or expected) time frames of information requests (or flows).

K3: Understand ship types, cargo types, stevedoring operations, applicable regulations and vessel class.

K4: Type of Charter Party, agency agreements and terms relevant to each vessel and / or port visit.

K5: Local customs clearance procedures, immigration processes and required documentation for vessel leavers / joiners.

K6: Relevant health, safety and security regulations covered by The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and The International Ship and Port Facility Security Code;  and how this is applied to local ports, facilities, harbours, terminal areas and berths.

K7: The eight main “Data Protection Principles” regarding the use and storage of information as prescribed by the UK Government under the Data Protection Act 2018.

K8: Local specialist roles such as Appointed Person, Port Facility Security Officer (PFSO), mooring services, health professionals and marine / cargo surveyors so that timely contact can be made to minimise chances of unnecessary delays being incurred.

K9: Statutory powers of the relevant Port State, their responsibilities, duties and codes.

K10: How to source local suppliers such as engineers, chandlers, ministers, taxis, mobile communications to ensure any demand made can be satisfied without undue delay or costs.

K11: Local / preferred banking procedures, cash availability, currency exchange rates, proof of receipt of payments and letters of credit.

K12: Bills of lading, their function and importance in transactions.

K13: Company policies and procedures regarding quotations, pro-forma documents and invoicing.

K14: Charges, terms and conditions of subject port / harbour authority of each vessel call.


S1 Meet all requirements in completing the Consolidated European Reporting System (CERS) and local port system documentation.

S2 Can complete and / or verify all information required on International Maritime Organisation vessel / voyage information forms.

S3 Identifies, sources, negotiates with and influences all stakeholders connected to the Port to ensure all requirements surrounding any vessel under the Port Agents agency are provided for as efficiently and effectively as possible.

S4 Proficient in the use of customer IT software systems and local port information systems, using and retaining data in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018.

S5 Comply fully with employer and port / harbour / terminal specific health, safety and security procedures and practice.

S6 Applies basic project management techniques to tasks including administration, record keeping and stakeholder liaisons.

S7 Uses the National Maritime Single Window on-line portal to accurately provide the UK Department for Transport with information required on International Maritime Organisation vessel / voyage information forms.

S8 Preparing / creating disbursement  accounts, statements of fact and formal pro-forma documents or quotations.


B1: Strive to achieve the best results in all they do; maintain a positive attitude and approach to their work even when priorities and working patterns change in time with the weather.

B2: Demonstrate integrity, credibility, honesty and personal drive; embody the organisation’s values, a belief in the services it offers and an interest in international seaborne trade.

B3: Be a supportive team member, to colleagues or a ships crew you have yet to meet, and be confident when working alone.

B4: Act as ambassador of the UK’s maritime trade, be professional and respectful in all situations.

B5: Take responsibility for their own and others’ health, safety and security at all times, on land and aboard vessels.

B6: Take ownership of own performance, professional maritime development and training, be an autonomous learner.


English and Maths qualifications

Apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level prior to taking the End-Point Assessment.  For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL. 

Other qualifications

Mandatory qualification 1: Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers Foundation Diploma in Port Agency

Level of qualification: 3

Additional details

Occupational Level: 3
Duration (months): 18


This standard will be reviewed after three years.

Crown copyright © 2021. You may re-use this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence. Visit www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence

Status: In development
Proposal approved Standard approved Assessment plan approved
Level: 3
Reference: ST0544
Route: Transport and logistics
Trailblazer contact (for apprenticeship standard content and trailblazer membership queries only): federation@ics.org.uk
Employers involved in creating the standard: Denholm Group, Casper Shipping Ltd, Danbrit Shipping Ltd, Denholm Port Services Ltd, EMR Shipping Ltd, George Hammond PLC, J R Rix & Sons Ltd, Lacy & Middlemiss Ltd, Wainwright Bros & Co Ltd, Grange Shipping Ltd, Kestrel Liner Agencies Ltd, John Good Shipping

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