DCSA publishes bill of lading standards

The Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) has 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.

Thomas Bagge, chief executive officer, DCSA, commented: “Digitising documentation, starting with the bill of lading, is key to the simplification and digitalisation of global trade.

“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.”

Oswald Kuyler, managing director digital standards initiative at International Chamber of Commerce, said: “The COVID pandemic has brought more urgency to the shift towards digitalisation of the global trade environment.

“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.”

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

“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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