As shipping and trade developed and grew in the early part of the twentieth century, so did the paperwork involved. By the 1950s it was being regarded not simply as an inconvenience but as a threat. The actual number of separate documents required varied from port to port; yet the information on cargoes and persons carried that was sought was often identical. The number of copies required of some of these documents could often become excessive. To the variety of forms and the number of copies required could be added other burdens such as local language translations, consular visa requirements, variations in document size and paper stock used and the necessity for authentication by the shipmaster of the information submitted.
By the early 1960s,maritime nations had decided that the situation could not be allowed to deteriorate further. International action was called for and to achieve it Governments turned to IMO, which had held its first meeting in 1959.
In 1961 the 2nd IMO Assembly adopted resolution A.29 (II) which recommended that IMO take up the matter. An Expert Group was convened which recommended that an international convention be adopted to assist the facilitation of international maritime traffic.
In October 1963 the 3rd IMO Assembly adopted resolution A.63 (III) which approved the report of Expert Group and in particular recommended that a convention be drafted which would be considered for adoption at a conference to be held under IMO auspices in the spring of 1965. The conference duly took place and the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL), 1965 was adopted on 9 April.