The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has made electronic exchange of information on cargo, crew and passengers mandatory as part of a revised and modernised annex to the convention on facilitation of international maritime traffic (FAL).

The adoption of the new standard is aimed at streamlining the procedures involved during a ship’s arrival, stay and departure from port.

Related to the public authorities’ responsibility to establish systems for the electronic exchange of information, the new standard is expected to be implemented at the start of 2018.

“The adoption of this new measure in FAL aims to cater to the maritime sector’s evolving needs.”

The authorities will be given a year starting from the introduction of the electronic transmission to implement it into their system.

The FAL treaty aims at facilitating uniformity in formalities, complying with the standards and guidelines, documentary requirements and procedures that should be applied on arrival, stay and departure to the ship itself, and to its crew, passengers, baggage, and cargo.

These include standardised forms for the maximum information required for the general declaration, cargo declaration, crew list and passenger list; and agreed essential minimum information requirements for the ship’s stores declaration and crew’s effects declaration.

The adoption of this new measure in FAL aims to cater to the maritime sector’s evolving needs and accelerates the international maritime traffic.

It aims at preventing unnecessary delays to ships and to persons and property on board.

A new practice has been adopted to incorporate a single portal, termed as the single window concept, to allow the submission of all the information required by public authorities related to the arrival, stay and departure of ships, persons and cargo through a single source to avoid duplication.

Image: IMO adopts electronic exchange of information as a mandate. Photo: courtesy of International Maritime Organization (IMO).