What to Do to Start a Shipping Agency

by Douthitt Steve

A shipping agent, also known as a shopping agent, acts as a go-between for the seller and buyer. International trade relies heavily on shipping agencies to facilitate the importation and exportation of goods. In China, Taobao, the leading shopping platform, does not offer shipping services to most countries worldwide. Only recently did the site develop Taobao USA and few other countries outside China’s mainland. The rest have to use Taobao agents for a good shopping experience. In this write-up, we talk about how to start a shipping agency.

How to Become a Shipping Agent

We all know that these agents play a huge role in trading hence opening up a shipping agency is a significant business venture. Here is a guide to help you understand what is required of you.

1. Understand the Business

Before starting any business, it’s only wise to gather information about it, study it, and know what it entails. Since agents help in overseas trading, understand international law is crucial. Learn about the foreign market, custom regulations, warehousing, documentation, and insurance covers for any damage.

As a soon-to-be agent, think about the competition in the industry. Know your competitors, strategies they use, how they price goods, and market them for you to secure a place in this niche.

2. Determine the Service to Offer

Shipping agents offer different services to customers, such as international freight forwarding by air or sea, logistics, customs clearance, goods delivery, warehouse storage, and shipping insurance. When starting up, pick a few services to give to clients for easier management and to avoid being overwhelmed and increase them as you grow. Also, chose the type of goods you want to deal with. It can be perishable, electronics, hazardous goods, plastic goods, and much more.

3. Have the Paperwork Done

Customers want to identify themselves with an agency that’s licensed and can be trusted. The shipping industry has many regulations; hence after coming up with a name for the agency, obtain the necessary documents like a business license and tax identification number.

Having some of these certificates assures clients of your ability to deal with their products and develop trust. Each certificate is specific to the mode of shipping, e.g., sea or air freight. They include; Certificate in Shipping Business, Marine Transportation, Certified International Trade, Shipping and Logistics Professional (CITLP), etc.

4. Write a Business Plan

The plan should show the details of the company in depth. Facts about it, its strategies, and figures that you can rely on. Include information like your target market, financial plans, skills needed, total costs, and competencies. Any investor would understand what the agency is about by looking at the business proposal.

5. Start-up Cost

After surveying other shipping companies, you must have known that starting one is not cheap. Small-scale shipping agents don’t require many resources, while a large-scale agency needs a considerable amount to run. This is where investors and banks come in. If your business plan convinces them, they will offer you the resources you need.

6. Location

As a new agent, few people will trust you with their goods. Setting up near popular companies is not ideal as clients will choose them over you. Choose an area with demand but with less competition due to few shipping agencies.


Shipping agents or agencies are on-demand since the need for shipping is rising. Get the above procedure right, start-up, and meet the demands of the people. Choose and work with the right team to succeed and associate with experts in the industry to learn more and develop the necessary skills.

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