Maritime Agent

A profession that has ancient roots in our territory, that of shipping agents is an indispensable activity for the daily international exchange of goods.
Ship management in all respects

Shipping Agent: what it is

The Shipping Agent is defined as “consignee” because he acts – limited to a predetermined area – in the name and on behalf of his principal: owner or carrier of the ship on which the cargo is carried.

Maritime transport operators have always needed a figure who can confidently manage the arrival of a ship in order to carry out all the necessary paperwork, to pay the various fees and to be assisted in a wide range of aspects.

Shipbrokers are in charge of carrying out and ensuring the proper functioning of these operations. Increasingly, ship’s agents are also involved in the sale of commercial space on the ship, which is one of the priorities of the Gragnani Group.

From 1800 to today

History of our profession

The figure of the shipping agent was born around 1800 with the advent of steam navigation and the consequent and progressive development of maritime traffic. He was in charge of carrying out on their behalf a whole series of juridical acts and material operations.

The figure grew in prestige over the years until it assumed all the duties that were originally carried out by the ship’s captain and – in 1887 – was mentioned for the first time in the Merchant Marine Code (art. 117).

The professional figure was subsequently defined in the Law 426 of 29 April 1940, and was then modified several times, until arriving at the current provision regulated by Law 135/1977 on the “Discipline of the profession of ship’s agent”.

Securing customs duties on goods

Act of

The consignee is such because he is the signatory of the “act of submission”. By means of this act – which must be drawn up in public – the agent undertakes to guarantee the customs duties on the goods until they are assigned a customs-approved treatment or use.

In fact, before the departure of the ship represented by him, the consignee must declare by letter signed in authenticity by the licensed natural person the receipt of the funds necessary to pay for all the port services used by the ship (towing, pilots, mooring, etc.), otherwise the authorization to departure will not be obtained.

With it, the consignee indicates one or more customs officers (the Gragnani Group offers its own customs services) in charge of signing the arrival and departure manifests, as well as carrying out other customs operations necessary for the operation of the ship.

On receipt of the act, the Customs Office shall determine the amount of the guarantee to secure the commitments of the consignee, depending on the volume of traffic expected.
Care in every step

How it works

Once the agent has taken up the assignment, he must carefully follow the instructions of the proposer (shipowner or maritime carrier), communicating in turn any information that may be deemed useful for the planning of the port of call (e.g. available piers or possible limitations to the port’s operations).

It also provides the principal with all the standard indications regarding the messages with which the ship must interact with the Maritime, Port and Health Authorities.

On the basis of the information received, the consignee must ensure that the readiness letter is forwarded to the cargo receivers: i.e. a document in which the master informs the receiver or shipper that the ship is ready to receive/deliver the cargo.
Constant planning and support


At the arrival of the ship, the forwarding agent appointed by the consignee (Gragnani Group can offer its services as forwarding agent) will attend the visit of the Guardia di Finanza and will take care of having the cargo manifests signed by the captain, which will be progressively numbered and dated, endorsed.

This, together with other annotations, is the basis of the information that the shipper must transfer on the manifest goods arrived (MMA), now computerized with the system AIDA (Automazione Integrata Dogane Accise).

Otherwise, the goods in transit will be listed separately from the landing goods, will be reported on the goods in departure manifest (MMP), a document necessary to obtain the shipment of the vessel by the Port Authority.

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    Giorgio Gragnani S.r.l. has been active for over 60 years in the maritime industry as a shipping agent, freight forwarder, logistics provider and customs officer.

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