The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) new global rule on electronic information exchange between ships and ports has come into force.

From 8 April, the new rule was mandated by the IMO for national governments and aims to make cross-border trade simpler. It will also ensure the logistics chain is more efficient for the more than ten billion tonnes of goods traded by sea across the globe every year.

The standard is mandatory under IMO’s Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention), and is part of a package of amendments under the revised Annex to the FAL Convention, which was adopted in 2016.

Avoiding duplication, the convention encourages the use of a ‘single window’ for data, to enable submission of all information required by public authorities regarding the arrival, stay and departure of ships, persons and cargo.

IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim said: “The new FAL Convention requirement for all Public Authorities to establish systems for the electronic exchange of information related to maritime transport 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.”

The FAL Convention, which has 121 contracting governments, is aimed at achieving the most efficient maritime transport.

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“The new rule has been mandated by the IMO for national governments and aims to make cross-border trade simpler.”

It comprises standards and recommended practices for simplifying formalities, documentary requirements and procedures on arrival, stay and departure of ships.

The requirement for electronic data exchange comes into effect as IMO’s Facilitation Committee meets for its 43rd session and will continue its ongoing work on harmonisation and standardisation of messages.

The committee is set to obtain an update on a successful IMO maritime single-window project implemented in Antigua and Barbuda.

The source code developed for the system established in Antigua and Barbuda will be available for other interested member states.

IMO has developed standardised forms for seven documents that public authorities can request. These include the IMO general, cargo, ship’s stores and the crew’s effects declarations. Documents also include the crew/passenger and dangerous goods lists.

Under the requirement for data exchange, all national authorities should now have provision for electronic exchange of the information.