Maritime Single Window

entered into force on 1 January 2024 


In April 2019, the International Maritime Organization FAL 43 decided a major amendment requiring national governments to implement the electronic exchange of information related to maritime transport. Thousands of ports across the globe have been impacted by this international regulation. In May 2022, IMO FAL 46 decided to make mandatory as of January 1st, 2024  the Maritime Single Window (MSW), in which all information required by public authorities in connection with the arrival, stay and departure of ships, people and cargo will be submitted electronically, via a single platform.

The IMO FAL initiatives related to the vessel arrival, stay and departure are designed to simplify cross-border trade, reduce the administrative burden and create a more efficient logistics chain. Yet many countries are still to implement policy-making. coordinated Border Management and Shipping interests need to be aligned.

This will include developing strategies to engage with member states and focus on change management  strategies including a institutional and legal framework. A Maritime Single Window is not an IT project but a change managenement project related to vessel clearance and port call business process.

Maritime Street partners with governments, governmental agencies and IFIs in the maritime supply chain providing a world class advisory service which covers all aspects of the FAL legislation and the Maritime Single Window.

How to implement Maritime Single Window

The IMO Facilitation Committee, at its 46th session in May 2022, adopted the resolution FAL.14(46) on amendments to the annex of the FAL Convention, which will make the implementation of a maritime single window (MSW) for data exchange in ports around the world mandatory from 1 January 2024. 

The implementation of a MSW is not only an information technology, but a major change-management project related to the port call process, aiming at reducing delays and congestion, improving operational efficiency, saving costs, and reducing emissions.

Here are 10 key recommendations to assist port authorities in getting ready for January 2024

No 1. Five principles of public-private data collaboration

A maritime single window (MSW) is a public-private data collaboration platform that allows the submission to a single-entry point of standardized and harmonized information related to the electronic exchange of data required on the arrival, stay, and departure of ships in ports and harbors. As public and private stakeholders are part of the port call process, the implementation of a MSW requires a holistic approach and must consider the five principles of data collaboration: engage stakeholders, establish data governance, orchestrate data, drive change management, and  establish long-term financial sustainability.

No 2. Legal framework

From day one, a major focus should be placed on the legal framework by the director of legal affairs of the port authority. A recent analysis of two international financial institutions projects  highlighted that the port call legal framework could impact 18 laws, decrees, and regulations in a large South American state and 11 legal instruments in a small island developing state in the  Pacific. The digital transformation of the port call will require early on an as-is business process analysis that will map the legal instruments associated with the vessel clearance process. Beyond this first analysis should highlight other legal instruments.

No 3. Coordinated border management

Engaging the main governmental agencies related to vessel clearance process is essential for an MSW project. Collaborating with the maritime authority, customs, agriculture, health, environment, and immigration agencies is required to move toward a coordinated border management that will be facilitated by the MSW. Equally important, the MSW will become a pillar to foster coordinated risk management. The port authority will play a role in leading the engagement of the governmental agencies to build trust and to collaborate on the as-is and to-be analysis, the evolution of legal frameworks, and the way toward a coordinated border management.

No 4. Road map

The FAL 46 resolution is an opportunity to develop the road map for the digitalization of the port call. In a first instance, the focus should be placed on the mandatory data requirements related to the 13 declarations mentioned in resolution FAL.14(46), Section 2. Do note that FAL.14(46) has removed the notion of forms, instead introducing the notion of information, data and data sets related to the declarations. The digital transformation of the vessel clearance process — that in many countries is quite cumbersome — should be implemented in a second phase, if not in parallel to the first phase. Finally, digitalization of the fully fledged port call process, including all vessels services, shall be considered from pilotage to shipyard maintenance in a third phase.

No 5. Just-in-time port call

The holy grail of the MSW project is the route to port call optimization and the just-in-time arrival of a ship, since both improve operational efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for shipping lines. Once the digitalization of the port call process has been established through the MSW, a next phase must be considered to comply with the standards of the International Taskforce Port Call Optimization and the IMO Just-in-Time Arrival Guide to have a significant environmental impact through the reduction of GHG emissions. If your state is part of two-third of countries that have not yet implemented a port community system (PCS), the MSW implementation presents an opportunity, such as in Djibouti, to consider MSW as the vessel module of the PCS. Then, in a second phase, the port authority could move the port terminal dimension forward, as well as the port community area and the hinterland domain, which could also eventually enable the  collaboration with other states through a digital corridor, as is the case in Djibouti.

No 7. Operating model

As the digital maturity levels vary from state to state, you may consider implementing an MSW as a standalone data collaboration platform that is interoperable with stakeholders’ automated systems. Another scenario is that MSW is implemented as the vessel module of the port community system, either as part of an existing PCS or as the first service of a new national PCS in the country. In any case, the MSW will become part of the single environment of your country.

No 8. Human capital

MSW implementation is multidimensional and requires the establishment of a project implementation team led by a leader capable to manage complex projects. Capacity building and development of human capital shall be a priority within all public and private stakeholders, particularly in developing states. 

No 10. High level political commitment

Finally, our last, but most valued, recommendation for the implementation of an MSW is the mandatory requirement of a high-level political commitment to empower the
necessary reforms and collaboration between governmental agencies.

Copyright © S&P Global Ports and Harbors May June 23.

No 6. Data orchestration

Data orchestration between all public and private stakeholders should take place to enable business process automation of the port call. Based on the IMO Compendium, including
the IMO data set and IMO reference data model, interoperability between automated systems will be required. To that purpose, an international best practice, such as the European Interoperability
Framework, could be leveraged to consider the legal, organizational, semantic, and technical dimensions of interoperability.

No 9. Technical assistance

The complexity of the MSW implementation requires technical assistance in several domains, such as legal framework, business process, coordinated border and risk management, interoperability, digital systems, and public-private project management. Engaging IMO and strategic partners, such as the International Financial Institutions, is a must to mitigate risks associated with the project, including the project long term financial requirements.

We provide

  • Expertise on policy developments related to digital port infrastructure and maritime supply chain
  • Advisory on project inception including instutional and legal framework, digitalization road map, human capital, business planning
  • Contribution to global thought leadership and change management for policy-makers
  • Development of a sustainable public private data collaboration platform operator and providing insights and capacity building by assisting policy-makers to understand and deal with public-private data collaboration platform
  • Supervisory from procurement, design, build to implementation and going live

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