Antigua and Barbuda show the way for IMO electronic reporting requirements

Paul Gunton

Paul Gunton · 12 April 2019


A successful IMO project promoted by Norway to establish a maritime "single window" in Antigua and Barbuda has been completed – and the source code for the system will now be made available to other countries who need it. The system meets the requirements of the FAL Convention changes that became effective on 8 April under which national governments must now introduce electronic information exchange between ships and ports.

A maritime single window enables all information required by public authorities in connection with the arrival, stay and departure of ships, people and cargo, to be submitted electronically via a single portal, without duplication. This type of system is recommended by IMO's Facilitation Convention, the treaty which aims to reduce administrative burdens and make shipping and trade by sea more efficient.

At a meeting of the project's Steering Committee yesterday the Maritime Single Window System developed by Norway was formally handed over to Antigua and Barbuda. The ceremony took place at IMO Headquarters in London, United Kingdom, where the Facilitation Committee is holding its 43rd session.

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said the generic Maritime Single Window system developed under the project would perform many different services within the realm of ship reporting and information exchange, helping to make cross-border trade simpler. These services typically relate to registering port calls and facilitating the clearance of ships, passengers and crew members.

The maritime single window source code developed during the project will be released under the Open Source MIT License and made available on the web-based hosting service GitHub. Lim said the IMO would also look into establishing an appropriate and permanent funding system to implement Maritime Single Windows in other countries.

The generic Maritime Single Window system is a software that will perform many different tasks within the realm of ship reporting and information exchange. The generic system is not customised to any particular country, application or process, but will provide basic services to support the general acknowledged processes within any country that seeks to meet the obligations of the FAL Convention.

These services typically relate to registering port calls and facilitating the clearance of ships, passengers and crew members. The facility will allow submission of standardised information covered by the FAL Convention to a single entry point, including the ability to upload several spreadsheets (including Crew and Effects, Passenger and Ship Stores Lists).

"I believe that this system will assist Member States, in particular Small Island Developing States, in complying with the new requirements of the FAL Convention. I would like to commend Norway for the project and its generous offer of the source code developed for the system established in Antigua and Barbuda to other interested Member States," Secretary-General Lim said.

The project to implement a single window in Antigua and Barbuda was launched in October 2017. Norway provided in-kind and financial support to Antigua and Barbuda and IMO assumed a coordination role between the two countries. Installation of the first, basic system platform took place in June 2018. This was followed by testing and implementation and in February this year the system was fully functioning.

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