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Electronic information exchange now required for ports, says IMO

The International Maritime Authority (IMO) announced that a mandatory requirement for national governments to introduce electronic information exchange between ships and ports is now in effect.

The requirement, which came into effect on April 8, 2019, aims to make cross-border trade simpler and the logistics chain more efficient for the more than 10 billion tons of goods which are traded by sea annually across the globe.

Mandatory under IMO’s Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention), the requirement is part of a package of amendments under the revised Annex to the FAL Convention, adopted in 2016.

The new requirement “marks a significant move in the maritime industry and ports towards a digital maritime world, reducing the administrative burden and increasing the efficiency of maritime trade and transport,” said IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim.

The Facilitation Convention encourages use of a “single window” for data to enable all the information required by public authorities on the arrival, stay and departure of ships, persons and cargo to be submitted via a single portal without duplication.

The FAL Convention, adopted in 1965, seeks primarily to achieve the most efficient maritime transport as possible, looking for smooth transit in ports of ships, cargo and passengers.

The FAL Convention, which has 121 contracting governments, contains standards and recommended practices and rules for simplifying formalities, documentary requirements and procedures on ships’ arrival, stay and departure.

IMO, under the FAL Committee, has developed standardized FAL documentation for authorities and governments to use, and the FAL Convention urges all stakeholders to use them.

The Facilitation Convention (Standard 2.1) lists the documents which public authorities can demand of a ship and recommends the maximum information and number of copies which should be required.

IMO has developed standardized forms for seven of these documents. They are the IMO general declaration; cargo declaration; ship’s stores declaration; crew’s effects declaration; crew list; passenger list; and dangerous goods.

Five other documents are required. These are on security, on wastes from ships, on advance electronic cargo information for customs risk assessment purposes, and two additional ones under the Universal Postal Convention and the International Health Regulations.

“Under the requirement for electronic data exchange, all national authorities should now have provision for electronic exchange of this information,” said IMO.

Photo: Monika Neumann


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