What is FAL and why is it important?
When a ship comes in to port it may be the end of a voyage but it’s just the beginning of a whole range of administrative tasks that need to be done.
This includes but is not limited to: customs declarations for cargo and ships’ stores; immigration clearance for crew and passengers and their baggage; import and export permits. In fact, these are just the tip of the iceberg.
And when the ship leaves, it’s the same process all over again.
This is what is called the Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic – or FAL for convenience.
For international shipping, a unified, global approach to FAL is vital. These activities are regulated and streamlined by an international treaty called the FAL Convention.This treaty is continually amended and updated by Governments at the FAL Committee of IMO, which meets once per year.
Which are the principal FAL documents containing the basic information that needs to be exchanged electronically?
The main documents with the data which needs to be exchanged electronically between ship and shore are as follows:
For declarations that may be required in paper form by the public authorities in exceptional circumstances, check APPENDIX 2 on this same PDF.
There are other forms with data which should be included for consideration. For more information, contact the IMO Trade Facilitation team.
What is the IMO Compendium and how is it related to a Maritime Single Window?
As of 1st January 2024, public authorities will be required to provide all information required to a “single window” by electronic means. This applies to all the information needed to fulfil the standard regulatory requirements – the cargo declaration, dangerous goods declaration, crew manifests, vessel details and so on.
The IMO trade facilitation team has developed the IMO Compendium, a technical reference manual for software developers within the relevant public authorities. The IMO Compendium harmonizes the data elements requested by the various public authorities and standardizes the many different electronic messages that need to be exchanged, which is the key to data quality and good data orchestration between all parties.
What guidance has the IMO provided for implementing a Maritime Single Window?
The IMO has created some guidelines for public authorities and port authorities, defining, on a highly detailed document, how to set up a Maritime Single Window using the IMO compendium.
You can download this important reference document here. A lot of the contents of this document were explained at the IMO – IAPH BIMCO hybrid symposium.
What useful links can you offer for more detailed information on FAL, the IMO Compendium and the work of the IMO FAL Committee?
You can find all relevant information on this very useful IMO portal: