Before the ship arrives the agent asks the shipowner or manager for funds to meet the estimated total costs of the visit.
The agent will pay the ship's bills incurred in port (called disbursements). After the ship's departure the agent sends the owner or manager a final disbursements account with supporting invoices, including the agency fee, and the balance is paid. Depending on the legal jurisdiction, an unpaid agent may have a maritime claim in rem against the ship for the disbursements. (In English law an agent will not have a maritime lien, however. )
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