Standards for introduction of Electronic Bill of Lading published

The Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), whose members are responsible for 70% of global container trade, has published its new data and process standards for the creation and use of electronic bills of lading (eBL).

The association says that this is the first publication of a multi-year eDocumentation initiative to deliver standards to enable digitalisation of end-to-end container shipping documentation, starting with the B/L, with the aim of facilitating acceptance and adoption by regulators, banks and insurers and to unify communication between all stakeholders involved in a transaction.

The DCSA eBL standard publication comprises four documents: DCSA Standard for the Bill of Lading 1.0, the DCSA Industry Blueprint 3.0, the DCSA Information Model 3.0 and the DCSA Interface Standard for the Bill of Lading.

The first three of these are immediately available to download for free on the DCSA website, with the Interface Standard expected to be released in January 2021. API definitions will be published on SwaggerHub and a reference implementation will be made available on GitHub, also in January.

The DCSA says that the Standard for the Bill of Lading can be implemented immediately to streamline and align paper-based B/L data and processes. Subsequent releases of DCSA’s eDocumentation initiative will include data and process standards for items like booking requests and confirmations, arrival notices and shipment releases.

The B/L standards are also aligned with the UN/CEFACT (United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business) multimodal transport reference data model to integrate with global industry efforts.

The eBL standard is the first DCSA publication to be eligible for self-certification under a new DCSA Compliance Programme, which will be published in January 2021. Any organisation that implements the eBL standard may demonstrate compliance by completing a self-certification checklist (SCC).

The SCC will be available on the DCSA website in the new year along with a Self-Certification Handbook that provides further details about the DCSA compliance programme and the procedure for self-certification. Self-certification for other DCSA standards will be introduced in the subsequent months.

“Digitising documentation, starting with the bill of lading, is key to the simplification and digitalisation of global trade,” said Thomas Bagge, CEO of DCSA.

“The alignment we’ve achieved among the carriers is a critical milestone on the way to full eBL adoption. Paperless trade will benefit all parties involved in a transaction in terms of cost reduction, customer experience, efficiency, growth, innovation and sustainability.”

“We invite all industry stakeholders to collaborate with us on optimising eDocumentation standards for safely and seamlessly delivering goods to their final destination.”

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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