A. General Information

1. Title

Digital Container Shipping Association –standardised foundation for digitalisation

2. Implementation period of the project/service:
4. Geographical coverage
Participating countries: Netherlands
Hub Point: Netherlands
5. Participating agencies/entities of the project/service:
a. Development stage
Lead agencies/entities
Digital Container Shipping Association
Other participating agencies/entities
Shipping Lines
b. Operational stage
Lead agencies/entities (op)
Other participating agencies/entities (op)
6. Main stakeholders/beneficiaries of the service
Traders (big enterprises)
Traders (SMEs)
Customs brokers
7. Business process category of the service
Commercial Transactions
Forwarding and cargo handling
Regulatory/official control

B. Lessons Learned

8. Summary description of the project/service
a. Objective(s)

By setting frameworks for effective, universally adaptable solutions and innovating, we can enable transparent, reliable, easy to use, secure and environmentally friendly container transportation services.

b. Business need for the service (background)

Electronic documentation standards benefit all participants, including customs

c. Business process covered*

High-level business process

The multi-year DCSA eDocumentation initiative will deliver standards to enable digitalization of end-to-end container shipping documentation.

d. Overall architecture and functionalities*

Development of Industry Standards for data flow between the relevant stakeholders. 

e. Relevant document/figure
9. Documents and data exchanged via the service

e-Bill of Lading

10. Data models/databases, proprietary solutions, hybrid approaches

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.

11. Main challenges faced during the service

eBL interoperability will simplify global trade, but adoption requires collaboration

12. Lessons learned from the service

Other industries, such as banking, telecoms and airlines, have shown us that standards are a must to create an industry-wide foundation for interoperability that enables the seamless end-to-end flow of data.

For customs specifically, this should address highly important aspects such as the quality and processing of the data.

13. Main benefit(s) of the service
Enhanced regulatory compliance*
Transaction Cost savings*
Transaction Time savings
Simplified process
Increased trade flow
13A. Elaborations/detailed description on benefits gained

potential benefits


14. Technical/financial/capacity building/other assistance
15. Future plan for expansion of the service

Subsequent releases of the DCSA eDocumentation initiative will include data and process standards for: booking requests and confirmations, arrival notices and release shipments.

16. Other information or relevant references on the service

The FIT Alliance

Uniting behind the mission to standardize the digitalization of international trade, DCSA BIMCO, FIATA ICC and SWIFT have formed the FIT Alliance. The FIT Alliance will work to generate awareness about the importance of common and interoperable data standards and common legislative conditions across international jurisdictions and platforms. The aim is to facilitate acceptance and adoption of an eBL by regulators, banks and insurers and to unify communication between these organizations and customers, physical and contractual carriers, and all other stakeholders involved in an international trade transaction.

17. Relevant document regarding the service

C. Relevant Standards

19. Electronic message standard
19A. Electronic message standard supporting the service
19B. Type of standard for electronic message applied for the service
International standard
Industry-specific standard
Technical recommendations from international body(ies)
Bill of Lading 1.0 and upcoming Bill of Lading 2.0 (beta)
20. Technical communication standard
20A. Technical communication standard supporting the service
20B. Type of technical communication standard applied for the service
21. Security-related standards*
21A. Security-related standard supporting the service
21B. Type of security-related standard applied for the service
22. Other Technical Information
22A. Interface developed for data exchange with an internal system
22B. Other technical implementation information
Bill of Lading OpenAPI Specifications
In addition to the standards documents, DCSA has also published API definitions for the Bill of Lading on Swaggerhub, an open-source API development platform. Carriers can use these definitions to rapidly implement DCSA standard-compliant APIs.
Documentation on the Bill of Lading standard, including versioning guidance, can be found on GitHub.

Bill of Lading Publication
The DCSA Standard for the Bill of Lading publication includes updates to the DCSA Industry Blueprint and Information Model.
Download the standard and updated documents below to get started immediately on streamlining and aligning your paper-based B/L data and processes.