Container shipping commits to 100% electronic Bills of Lading by 2030

The nine ocean carrier members of the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) have announced a collective commitment to 100% adoption of electronic bills of lading (eBL) based on DCSA standards by 2030.

“The digitalisation of international trade holds vast potential for the world economy by reducing friction and, as trade brings prosperity and the eBL will further enable trade, helping bring millions out of poverty,” said Thomas Bagge, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), DCSA.

“This heralds the start of a new era in container shipping as the industry transitions to scaled automation and fully paperless trade. Document digitalisation has the power to transform international trade and requires collaboration from all stakeholders. I applaud the leadership of our members in coming together to achieve this important milestone.”

The bill of lading is one of the most important trade documents in container shipping. It functions as a document of title, receipt for shipped goods and a record of agreed terms and conditions. Ocean carriers issue around 45 million bills of lading a year, however, DCSA notes that only 1.2% of these were electronic as of 2021.

“I am delighted that carriers are taking this big step towards paperless trade,” said Soren Toft, CEO, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company.

“Our industry needs to accelerate digitalisation to help make shipping more efficient, more secure and a better experience for our customers. On top of these benefits, moving to 100% eBL will contribute towards our climate goals, as we move towards net zero 2050.”

Vincent Clerc, CEO of A.P. Moller-Maersk, also commented: “This is an important step in the journey towards creating a digital standard of one of the most cost heavy and troublesome components in the shipping industry.”

“A fully digitised bill of lading enables a more seamless customer experience across the supply chain and in turn it will help democratise trade and reduce time and costs for all involved parties. The need for digitisation in logistics is urgent, and the industry needs to speed up the process.”

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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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