The International Maritime Organization (“IMO”) Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (the “FAL Convention”) was adopted in 1965 with the object of effecting a more streamlined logistics information’s exchange process for the transport of passengers, ships, and cargo in global trade. Currently, the FAL Convention has 121 contracting governments.
The FAL Convention was adopted back in 1965 as part of a response to increasing local requirements of maritime nations that complicated/burdened the shipping industry and, more specifically, the port turnaround of commercial vessels. Thus, the main goal underlying the FAL Convention was simplifying and facilitating port turnarounds of commercial vessels. A fundamental way to achieve that is by standardizing, mainstreaming and providing recommended practices for the documentary requirement of ships calling ports around the globe.
The 2016 Amendments to the revised Annex of the FAL Convention came into force on the 1st of January, 2019. In essence, said Amendments contain new requirements for the digital exchange of shipping information. As of April 8th 2019, the FAL Convention now requires contracting governments to establish a protocol for an electronic information exchange between ships and ports. The IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim opined that this new amendment marks another step towards a digital maritime world, reducing the administrative burden and increasing the efficiency of global shipping trade and transport.
The time allowance for compliance with the newly enforced digital shipping information requirements is a minimum of 12 months.
In addition, these new Amendments will require 3 more documents that port authorities will require from calling ships. These are the following:
(1) security-related information pursuant to SOLAS regulation XI-2/9.2.2
(2) advance cargo information for customs review
(3) Advanced Notification Forms for Waste Delivery to Port Reception Facilities.
Furthermore, the IMO- through the FAL Convention- has provided the following standardized documents for general use with which all port states/flag states must comply:
1) IMO General Declaration
(2) Cargo Declaration
(3) Ship’s Stores Declaration
(4) Crew’s Effects Declaration
(5) Crew List — Passenger List
(6) Dangerous Goods.
Finally, the IMO- through the FAL Convention- greatly encourages the concept of a single electronic window- a single electronic portal system between ships and authorities of ports of call. Said proposed protocol will funnel all critical information exchange regarding commercial vessels port turnarounds, carriage of cargoes and transporting of passengers though one integrated system. The revised guidelines for integrating a single window system in worldwide shipping transport await approval soon.
Source: Lane Powell