DCSA rolls out standards for e-bill of lading

Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) has, 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).

As explained, DCSA B/L standards are aligned with the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) 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.

Specifically, 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 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).

“Digitising documentation, starting with the bill of lading, is key to the simplification and digitalisation of global trade,” Thomas Bagge, CEO of DCSA, said.

“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.”

“The COVID pandemic has brought more urgency to the shift towards digitalization of the global trade environment,” Oswald Kuyler, Managing Director Digital Standards Initiative (DSI) at International Chamber of Commerce, noted.

“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.”

“It is the aim of standards bodies to digitalise and facilitate trade across different carriers, geographies and transportation modes,” Sue Probert, Chair at UN/CEFACT, commented.

“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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