Pilot port needed for IMO digital vessel clearance project

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has issued a call for expressions of interest from ports wishing to take part in a pilot project to establish a digital system for electronic exchange of information for ship clearance, via a Maritime Single Window.

The Organization says it is looking for applications from countries with a medium-sized port to test the feasibility of operating a Single Window for Facilitation of Trade (SWiFT) allowing electronic submission, through one single portal, of all information required by various Government agencies when a ship calls at a port.

The SWiFT project will be implemented by IMO in partnership with Singapore, which will share lessons learned from the implementation of its own Maritime Single Window (MSW) as part of its digitalPORT@SG project.

The selected country for the pilot will be advised on the necessary legal, policy and institutional requirements for the MSW system and provided with functional MSW software, hardware and IT services, configured to the country’s needs. Training will also be provided.

Following the initial pilot and subject to funding availability, the aim is to replicate the pilot project in other IMO Member States in need of similar technical assistance.

“Increased digitalisation supports greater efficiency which benefits the ship, the port and wider supply chain,” said Kitack Lim, IMO’s Secretary-General.

“We want to support countries in implementing the FAL Convention requirements for electronic data exchange, by supporting a pilot project which will show the way and result in know-how which can then be shared with others.”

Regulations in IMO’s Facilitation Convention require electronic means for the exchange of data to be made available at ports, with the Organization recommending the use of single window systems to avoid duplication of effort. Individual data elements should only be submitted once, electronically through a single point of entry, to the relevant regulatory agencies and other parties.

“Following implementation in the pilot port, the IMO-Singapore project endeavours to springboard countries in their digitalisation journey and unlock the full potential of their maritime sectors. It is only when most, if not all, ports undergo digital transformation that the full benefits of digitalisation can be realised by the maritime community,” said Julian Abril, Head of IMO’s Facilitation Section.

“With support from IMO’s Department of Partnership and Projects, we envisage an increasing number of discussions with external partners and resource mobilisation efforts to support an ambitious scaling-up plan for this pilot initiative.”

Expressions of interest must be submitted by 30 April 2021, with the implementation of specific activities of the pilot project expected to commence by 15 June 2021.

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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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