Level 3 Port Agent

Course Overview

This occupation is found in the shipping industry and located in ports around the country. These ports range considerably in size, from major import/export centres through too much smaller and more remote ports. Port agents work for commercial companies, that may be based in a port or off site.

The broad purpose of the occupation is to represent the vessel operations/owners to facilitate the efficient arrival, working, and departure of their vessels in a port. They do this by supporting vessel progress during a voyage (anywhere in the world) and by ensuring the vessel captain has the help and assistance they need. This support can be very wide-ranging, from making sure the vessels have the right permissions, and the correct crew complement, through to having enough provisions onboard.


Course Length

15-20 months

Levy Funding

Maximum £13,000 - Non levy employer contribution (5%)

Qualifications Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers Foundation Diploma in Port Agency
Apprentice Requirements

Have the right to work in England.

Be 16 or older.

Individual employers will determine their own entry requirements but due to the nature of the role it is expected that candidates will meet certain medical standards of physical health.

Possession of a driving licence is likely to be advantageous.

Enthusiasm and a willingness to learn your chosen trade.

Dedication and commitment to coursework and the job.

English and Maths GCSE (or equivalent) grade C or 4. If you do not meet the Maths and English requirements, Marine Society will assist you in gaining your Functional Skills qualification prior to End Point Assessment.


By the end of the apprenticeship, a Port Agent will be able to do the following:

  • Ship Scheduling and Coordination: A port agent will be able to effectively schedule and coordinate ship arrivals and departures.


  • Documentation and Customs: Be well-versed in handling various documentation requirements, including customs procedures, import/export documentation, and cargo manifests.


  • Cargo Handling and Logistics: Have a good understanding of cargo handling operations, including loading and unloading procedures, stowage planning, and ensuring compliance with safety regulations.


  • Communications and Customer Service: Be skilled in maintaining effective communication channels between shipping lines, terminal operators, customs officials, and other relevant parties.


  • Crisis Management: Handle unexpected situations, such as port congestion, vessel breakdowns, or labour strikes, by implementing contingency plans and engaging with relevant stakeholders.


  • Port Regulations and Compliance: Be knowledgeable about local, national, and international port regulations, ensuring compliance with safety and security measures, environmental standards, and port policies.


Career Options and Progression

A port agent can work in a variety of roles within liner and tramp ship and port agents. They may progress onto a career in ship regulation or a range of maritime professional services. Apprentices can undertake further study with the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers or higher-level diplomas with Lloyds Maritime Academy. Apprentices can progress onto Port Marine Operations Officer L4.


Occupational Map


Further information

Apprenticeship standard and End Point Assessment

Foundation diploma in Port Agency