Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic gets a Fifty Year Update

Latest IMO Convention Amendments Now Available
Shipping News Feature
WORLDWIDE – As acronyms go the FAL convention from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a complete non-starter, at least to an English speaker. The convention in question in fact refers to a most important intent, the Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic, in other, less flowery language, making sure the water borne supply chain behaves as efficiently as possible.

First formulated in 1965 and introduced two years later, the latest incarnation of the Convention, including the 2016 amendments which come into force on 1 January 2018, has just been published and the original principles, to prevent unnecessary delays in maritime traffic, to aid co-operation between Governments, and to secure the highest practicable degree of uniformity in formalities and other procedures, are still central objectives.

Now of course the harmonisation of documentation should be considerably easier with the amount of electronic data transfer so central to the aims of the Convention yet, as the IMO pointed out last year, the use of three different formats for data submission in place: XML, Excel and EDIFACT (noting that there are different versions of these in place), has meant the ultimate aim of a completely harmonised and standardised format has not yet been achieved.

Now electronic exchange of information will be mandatory from 9 April 2019 with a transition period of no less than 12 months and to find the present situation regarding this ‘single window’ policy, together with the IMO current take on other important matters including the cyber security perspective, the new amendments which introduce revised definitions for Cargo Transport Unit (CTU), clearance, freight container, the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, master, ship agent and shipper, it will be necessary to obtain the revised FAL 2017 edition.

Additionally three extra documents have been introduced for ship’s clearance that may be required by the onshore authorities. These are: Security-related information as required under SOLAS regulation XI-2/9.2.2; Advance electronic cargo information for customs risk assessment purposes; and an Advanced Notification Form for Waste Delivery to Port Reception Facilities.

Additional guarantees have also been included relating to the shore leave of crew members and all IMO FAL forms, with the exception of the Ship’s Stores Declaration (IMO FAL Form 3), have also been revised. Copies of FAL 2017 and where to purchase are obtainable from the IMO Publications shop.