Electronic Business

Electronic exchange of information / Electronic data exchange


The mandatory requirement for national governments to introduce electronic information exchange between ships and ports came into effect from 8 April 2019, under the FAL Convention.

According to the Standard 1.3bis, Public Authorities have to establish systems for the electronic exchange of information by 8 April 2019. A period of no less than 12 months for transition to the mandatory use of the systems shall be provided from the date of the introduction of such systems. 

In addition, Recommended Practice 1.3quin encourages the use of the "single window" concept, to enable all the information required by public authorities in connection with the arrival, stay and departure of ships, persons and cargo, to be submitted via a single portal without duplication. The obligation to create systems for the electronic interchange of information established by Standard 1.3bis does not refer specifically to "single window", so the Contracting Governments can use system other than it to comply with this obligation too.   

Maritime Single Window (MSW)

Recommended Practice 1.3quin in the FAL Convention encourages the use of the "single window" concept, to enable all the information required by public authorities in connection with the arrival, stay and departure of ships, persons and cargo, to be submitted via a single portal without duplication.  

In June 2021, the FAL Committee issued Revise guidelines for setting up a maritime single window serve as a source of information, advice and guidance for those Member States looking to create a MSW and provides examples of the experience and knowledge gained by some Member States in approaching the implementation of MSW.

Shipping companies engaged in international trade regularly have to submit large volumes of information and documents to ports and governmental authorities, in order to comply with regulatory requirements. The information often has to be submitted through several different agencies, each with its own specific system and paper forms. These requirements, together with the associated compliance costs, constitute a burden both to Governments and to the business community and can be a major barrier to the development of international trade, particularly in developing countries.

Establishing a Single Window facility is one means of addressing this problem. It can enhance the availability and handling of information, and can simplify and expedite information flows between trade and government. It can also bring about greater harmonization and better sharing of the relevant data across governmental systems, bringing meaningful gains to all parties involved in cross-border trade. 

IMO project of Maritime Single Window in Antigua and Barbuda 

Based on its experience in electronic facilitation of maritime trade, Norway provided in-kind and financial support to implement a maritime single window system in Antigua and Barbuda. The project was implemented in 19 months (11 months of development, 6 months of testing and 4 months of transition since October 2018).

The source code developed for the system established in Antigua and Barbuda is available to other interested Member States, in particular, Small Island Developing States (SIDS). This can assist them in complying with the new mandatory requirement for electronic information exchange in the FAL Convention, to reduce the administrative burden and increase the efficiency of maritime trade and transport. 

Member States interested in the source code or the project in general are encouraged to contact the Secretariat if they wish to obtain further details.

In light of the dramatic increase in the use of digitalized systems across the maritime sector, the FAL Committee has considered the facilitation aspects of protecting the maritime transport network from cyber threats, including the need to address particular risks to maritime single windows, processes for electronic certificates and data exchange between ships and shore, pre-arrival information based on the Facilitation Convention and processes involving ship-port interface.

IMO guidance includes Guidelines on Maritime Ciber Risk Management to address cyber risks in the maritime domain and Resolution MSC.428(98) on Maritime Cyber Risk Management in Safety Management Systems, encouraging shipping companies to address cyber risks in their safety management systems.

Leading industry stakeholders made an effort to establish Guidelines on Cyber Security Onboard Ship, providing an overarching scope of nature in relation to cyber security.

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