«Ancient» bill of lading rocketing towards the XXI century

«Ancient» bill of lading rocketing towards the XXI century

Amsterdam, The Netherlands, – Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), a neutral, non-profit group established to further digitalisation of container shipping technology standards, in conjunction with its nine member carriers, published data and process standards for the submission of shipping instructions and issuance of the bill of lading (B/L). DCSA B/L standards are aligned with the UN/CEFACT (United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business) multimodal transport reference data model to ensure a global industry framework that accelerates digitalisation through a unified industry effort.

This is the first publication of the multi-year DCSA eDocumentation initiative which will deliver standards to enable digitalisation of end-to-end container shipping documentation, starting with the B/L. Through this initiative, DCSA aims to facilitate acceptance and adoption of an electronic bill of lading (eBL) by regulators, banks and insurers and to unify communication between these organisations and customers, carriers and all other stakeholders involved in a transaction.

A number of carriers have been developing their own eBLs recently. Today’s announcement provides guidance on how to standardise these online documents. 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 that provides further details about the DCSA compliance programme and the procedure for self-certification. Self-certification for other DCSA standards will be introduced in the subsequent months.

“Digitising documentation, starting with the bill of lading, is key to the simplification and digitalisation of global trade,” remarked Thomas Bagge, CEO of DCSA. “The alignment we’ve achieved among the carriers is a critical milestone on the way to full eBL adoption. Paperless trade will benefit all parties involved in a transaction in terms of cost reduction, customer experience, efficiency, growth, innovation and sustainability. We invite all industry stakeholders to collaborate with us on optimising eDocumentation standards for safely and seamlessly delivering goods to their final destination.”

“The COVID pandemic has brought more urgency to the shift towards digitalization of the global trade environment,” said Oswald Kuyler, Managing Director Digital Standards Initiative (DSI) at International Chamber of Commerce. “Achieving a standardized eBL is a foundational element of that transformation. It’s fantastic to see alliances stepping up to the challenge, working with industry stakeholders and delivering something practical that can have a tangible impact. I’m looking forward to working with DCSA to advocate for adoption of digital standards not only for the B/L – but potentially for other use cases as well.”

Bills of lading have been described  as «something that have not changed much from the times of Columbus, apart from moving via courriers rather than on horse». It had to be put to rest, sooner or latter.

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