Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) has published data and process standards for submitting shipping instructions and issuing bills of lading
This non-profit group worked in conjunction with its nine member carriers to produce these standards as part of its eDocumentation initiative as the shipping industry accelerates digitalisation.
Its electronic bill of lading standards are aligned with the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) multimodal transport reference data model, for a global and unified industry framework for electronic transactions.
These standards come as DCSA drives to facilitate acceptance and adoption of electronic bills of lading (eBL) by regulators, banks and insurers.
It sees this multi-year eDocumentation initiative as a way to unify communications between stakeholders, ship operators, customers and carriers involved in transactions.
“Digitalising documentation, starting with the bill of lading, is key to the simplification and digitalisation of global trade,” said DCSA chief executive Thomas Bagge.
“The alignment we have achieved among the carriers is a critical milestone on the way to full eBL adoption,” he said.
The DCSA eBL standard publication comprises several documents that enable the industry to exchange information and transaction documentation. “Paperless trade will benefit all parties involved in a transaction in terms of cost reduction, customer experience, efficiency, growth, innovation and sustainability,” said Mr Bagge.
“We invite all industry stakeholders to collaborate with us on optimising eDocumentation standards for safely and seamlessly delivering goods to their final destination,” he said.
DCSA’s bill of lading standard can be implemented immediately to streamline and align paper-based data and processes. The eBL standard includes these documents: DCSA Standard for the Bill of Lading 1.0; the DCSA Industry Blueprint 3.0 and the DCSA Information Model 3.0. These can be downloaded for free from the DCSA website.
DCSA intends to make its Interface Standard for the Bill of Lading available in January 2021. To facilitate implementation and compliance, the application interface definitions will be published on SwaggerHub, and a reference implementation will be available on GitHub, also in January 2021.
Subsequent releases of DCSA’s eDocumentation initiative will include data and process standards for booking request and confirmation, arrival notice and release shipment.
DCSA’s progress on the eBL standard was recognised by outside organisations.
“It is the aim of standards bodies to digitalise and facilitate trade across different carriers, geographies and transportation modes,” said UN/CEFACT chair Sue Probert.
“We were very pleased that DCSA’s standards are fully aligned with the UN/CEFACT MultiModal reference data model to enable eBL transactions that are seamless and transparent across international borders,” she said.
International Chamber of Commerce managing director of digital standards initiatives Oswald Kuyler said these standards are required as the maritime industry shifts towards digitalisation more rapidly due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
“Achieving a standardised eBL is a foundational element of that transformation,” said Mr Kuyler. “It is fantastic to see alliances stepping up to the challenge, working with industry stakeholders and delivering something practical that can have a tangible impact.”
The eBL standard is the first DCSA standard 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).
In January, the SCC will be available on the DCSA website along with a Self-Certification Handbook, providing further details about the DCSA compliance programme and the procedure for self-certification.
Self-certification for other DCSA standards will be introduced in subsequent months.