Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), a neutral, non-profit group established to further digitalization 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 digitalization 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.
The DCSA eBL standard publication comprises the following documents: DCSA Standard for the Bill of Lading 1.0, the DCSA Industry Blueprint 3.0, the DCSA Information Model 3.0 and the DCSA Interface Standard for the Bill of Lading. The Standard for the Bill of Lading, Industry Blueprint and Information Model are immediately available to download for free on the DCSA web site. The Interface Standard will be available for download in January 2021. To facilitate implementation and compliance, API definitions will be published on SwaggerHub, and a reference implementation will be available on GitHub, also in January.
The DCSA Standard for the Bill of Lading can be implemented immediately to streamline and align paper-based B/L data and processes. Subsequent releases of DCSA’s eDocumentation initiative will include data and process standards for: booking request and confirmation, arrival notice and release shipment.
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.”
“It is the aim of standards bodies to digitalise and facilitate trade across different carriers, geographies, and transportation modes,” said Sue Probert, Chair at UN/CEFACT. “We were very pleased that DCSA’s standards are fully aligned with the UN/CEFACT MultiModal Reference Data Model to enable eBL transactions that are seamless and transparent across international borders. This type of collaboration is key to supporting global interoperability.”
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