Crewing Agents are operating in many countries to recruit ship crew members and officers on behalf of the shipping companies. Many of the crewing agents are part of the shipping agent for particular shipping company in a country. They used to have their own offices with modern day communication facilities like phones, fax machine, internet connected computers and VHF phone facility to contact the ships in outer harbour.
Most of the crewing agents get their service charges from the shipping companies mean while some of them used to charge a fixed amount of money as fee from the operators and then they used to charge the seaman too for offering the job opportunity.
If you are a seaman looking for an ocean going ship jobs you can contact your local crewing agent or can contact the nearby country crewing agent. Most of them will ask you to pay a small fee for registering with them. Before you are going to register yourself with a crewing agent, check whether they are registered with the relevant Government authorities to do the crewing agency business as many of them.
These crewing agents are acting between ship operators and the seaman in the recruiting process.
In some countries the crewing agents are to be registered with the shipping ministries and are allowed to charge a limited service fee legally. When you register yourself with a crewing agent clearly tell him what kind of ship job you are looking for and ask about their service charge. Many of the agents want their service charges to be paid in US dollar.
You can find many web sites that are operated by crewing agents for the benefit of the ship job seeking seaman.
Also they may have their secret collective agreement. If there is one read it carefully, before accept it. Any way you are governed by the rules of the vessel's flag state rules. When the crew agents are sending you to join a vessel ask from them to provide good transport service and connection travel plans till you reach the ship or ask them to arrange the ship agent at the arrival airport.
Also they must provide you with sufficient fund as your travel expenses. This fund must be enough to cover your food and phone call charges.
When you are going to sign a contract, check the ships details and its position. In many occasion some crewing agents sent crew members to ships that were sold to scrap and were on their final voyage.
Before you leave the crewing agent's office with the job offer check the following things.
A copy of the fax, that came to the agent regarding the recruitment.
Flight ticket or train ticket to be in "OK" status and to be with enough baggage allowance to carry your personal things.
Ship's local agent's contact details, in case if you don't see any body in the airport.
Contact details Shipping Company's crew manager.
Get your crewing agent's personal mobile phone number to contact him in case of emergency.
Don't sign bonds with unpopular crew agents. If it is necessary contact other seaman and ask from them about the particular agent's activities.