FONASBA Quality Standard for Ship Agents and Brokers
Launched in October 2007, the FONASBA Quality Standard is designed to assist shipowners and operators to identify those agents and brokers who are well-founded, professionally run and demonstrate a tangible commitment to quality. As at November 2021, 44 countries and more than 600 companies are covered by the Standard.
The Quality Standard is fully endorsed by ship owner organisations BIMCO, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO and recognised by the International Chamber of Shipping.
It is also acknowledged as a quality label for the provision of ship agency and ship broking services in Recommendation 45, Minimum Standards for Ship Agents and Ship Brokers issued by the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) and in BIMCO’s recently-revised GENCON 2022 charterparty and the FONASBA/BIMCO Agency Appointment and General Agency Agreements.
An increasing number of ship operators and charterers are also referencing the FONASBA Quality Standard during their ship agent vetting and appointment processes.
Working with an agent or broker displaying the FONASBA Quality Standard gives the customer peace of mind that they are dealing with a well run and reputable business.
The Standard is awarded to those companies that are:
- A member of a FONASBA member association
- Can prove their financial standing in accordance with the accounting laws of their country of domicile
- Have made a firm commitment to professionalism and the ongoing education and training of their staff
Companies granted the standard are subject to a biennial audit by their association. This audit is overseen by FONASBA to ensure that the required criteria are met.
Click here to view a list of all accredited companies.
Why does the industry need this standard?
There is no international regulation governing who can and cannot be a ship agent or brokers, yet shipowners entrust their highly valuable vessels and cargoes to companies whose financial probity or expertise is unknown. By providing the maritime industry with a robust, enforceable and practical Quality Standard, FONASBA has helped ensure that the activities, responsibilities and liabilities of agents and brokers is subject to scrutiny.
As an expert, international and non-commercial organisation FONASBA has developed a set of standards which help ensure the protection of principals’ interests.
FONASBA recognises that some Full Member Associations have their own pre-existing quality standards, compliance with which is a condition of membership of that association and that some national government authorities set minimum statutory standards for the provision of ship broking or ship agency services. FONASBA also recognises that ISO standards have been established for the ship broking and ship agency professions. In cases where these standards meet or exceed those of the FONASBA Standard, the FONASBA Quality Standard may be awarded.
Subject to a prior review of any such quality standards, the FONASBA Executive Committee, on determining that they meet, or exceed those of the FONASBA Standard, may award the FONASBA Quality Standard.
Companies awarded the FONASBA Quality Standard are subject to at least a biennial audit by their own national association or, in the case of an Associate, Club or Candidate member, by the FONASBA Secretariat.
The applicant company must be a current member of a FONASBA Full Member or an Associate, Club or Candidate Member.
The company shall be bound by, and at all times act in accordance with, the FONASBA Code of Conduct
Provide a copy of audited accounts or of its statutory companies return for the previous year or, a report, certificate or other evidence of the company’s accounting procedures indicating compliance with appropriate national accounting standards provided by the company’s auditors, or a financial report compiled in accordance with a national association’s current quality standards or evidence that the company has been audited – or its financial standing approved by – the national government or the appropriate national financial authority.
Have in place adequate and appropriate insurance cover, provided by an internationally recognised mutual club or insurance company, in respect of professional indemnity risks and/or errors and omissions by the company
Ensures that all its operations are carried out to the highest levels of professionalism and in accordance with all relevant national laws or regulations
Maintains appropriate accounting policies and appropriate controls, ensuring that principals’ funds are accounted separately from those of the company itself
Ensures that all members of its staff are trained to the appropriate level and encourages staff to study for, and pass examinations based on the syllabi of recognised authorities or educational institutions
The minimum criteria underwent a further revision in 2017 and the changes were approved by Council on 18th October 2017. Click here to download full details of the current criteria.
The approval of a company to the FONASBA Quality Standard indicates its compliance with a set of criteria, developed by the national association of which it is a member, at the time of the annual or biennial audit. The audit of the company is based on information that is publicly available, some of which may have been provided by the company itself.
In view of the foregoing neither FONASBA, nor the national association of which it is a member, makes any warranty or guarantee, express or implied, as to the financial standing, commercial viability, operational capability, service standards or any other aspect of the company at any other time. Approval to the FONASBA Quality Standard is voluntary and an entity wishing to conduct business with the company concerned must carry out its own due diligence before doing so.
FONASBA Quality Standard Videos
FONASBA has produced an informative video on the Standard, during which representatives of shipowner organizations BIMCO and INTERTANKO discuss the importance of the FQS for ship owners and operators and underline their ongoing support for it.
The video was launched in March 2020 and can be viewed below.
In February 2017, FONASBA General Manager Jonathan C. Williams FICS took part in a webinar hosted by BIMCO on the Standard in which he discussed the background to, and need for, the initiative in conversation with Pernille Kærvad Jacobsen, then BIMCO’s Manager, Contracts & Clauses.
A recording of the webinar can be found below, it is also available from BIMCO’s YouTube channel.