DCSA Drives Digitalization With Standards for Bill of Lading

standardization for e bill of lading supporting digitalization
(file photo)

Published Dec 8, 2020 7:58 PM by The Maritime Executive

Supporting the drive to improve efficiency across all parts of the shipping industry, the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) in conjunction with its nine member carriers published data and process standards for bill of lading preparation and issuance. The standards, which are aligned with the UN’s Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business model, are designed to ensure a global industry framework that accelerates digitalization.

“Digitizing documentation, starting with the bill of lading, is key to the simplification and digitalization 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 optimizing eDocumentation standards for safely and seamlessly delivering goods to their final destination.”

This is the first publication of the multi-year DCSA eDocumentation initiative which will deliver standards to enable digitalization of end-to-end container shipping documentation, starting with the B/L. The eBL standard is also the first DCSA standard to be eligible for self-certification under a new DCSA Compliance Programme, which will be published in January 2021. Any organization that implements the eBL standard may demonstrate compliance by completing a self-certification checklist (SCC).  

“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 the 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.”

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.