Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) makes digital documents available

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands – Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) has published data and process standards for the submission of shipping instructions and issue of bills of lading (B/L).

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 digitization through a unified industry effort.

The DCSA is a neutral, non-profit group of nine carriers established to further the digitization of container shipping technology standards.

This is the first publication of the multi-year DCSA eDocumentation initiative which will deliver standards to enable digitization of end-to-end container shipping documentation, starting with the B/L. Through this initiative, DCSA aims to facilitate acceptance and adoption of an electronic bill of lading (eBL) by regulators, banks and insurers and to unify communication between these organizations and customers, carriers and all other stakeholders involved in a transaction.

The DCSA eBL standard publication comprises:

  • DCSA Standard for the Bill of Lading 1.0,
  • The DCSA Industry Blueprint 3.0,
  • The DCSA Information Model 3.0 and
  • The DCSA Interface Standard for the Bill of Lading.

Download now

The Standard for the Bill of Lading, Industry Blueprint and Information Model are immediately available to download for free on the DCSA website. The Interface Standard will be available for download later in January. To facilitate implementation and compliance, API definitions will be published on SwaggerHub, and a reference implementation will be available on GitHub, also in January.

The DCSA Standard for the Bill of Lading can be implemented immediately to streamline and align paper-based B/L data and processes. Subsequent releases of DCSA’s eDocumentation initiative will include data and process standards for: booking request and confirmation, arrival notice and release shipment.


The eBL standard is the first DCSA standard to be eligible for self-certification under a new DCSA Compliance Program, which will be published in January 2021. Any organization that implements the eBL standard may demonstrate compliance by completing a self-certification checklist (SCC). In January, the SCC will be available on the DCSA website along with a Self-Certification Handbook that provides further details about the DCSA compliance program and the procedure for self-certification. Self-certification for other DCSA standards will be introduced in the subsequent months.

“Digitizing documentation, starting with the bill of lading, is key to the simplification and digitization of global trade,” remarked Thomas Bagge, CEO of DCSA.

“The alignment we’ve achieved among the carriers is a critical milestone on the way to full eBL adoption. Paperless trade will benefit all parties involved in a transaction in terms of cost reduction, customer experience, efficiency, growth, innovation and sustainability. We invite all industry stakeholders to collaborate with us on optimizing eDocumentation standards for safely and seamlessly delivering goods to their final destination.”

Pandemic adds urgency

“The Covid pandemic has brought more urgency to the shift towards digitization of the global trade environment,” said Oswald Kuyler, managing director digital standards initiative (DSI) at the International Chamber of Commerce.

“Achieving a standardized eBL is a foundational element of that transformation. It’s fantastic to see alliances stepping up to the challenge, working with industry stakeholders and delivering something practical that can have a tangible impact. I’m looking forward to working with DCSA to advocate for adoption of digital standards not only for the B/L – but potentially for other use cases as well.”

“It is the aim of standards bodies to digitize and facilitate trade across different carriers, geographies and transportation modes,” said Sue Probert, chair at UN/CEFACT.

“We were very pleased that DCSA’s standards are fully aligned with the UN/CEFACT MultiModal Reference Data Model to enable eBL transactions that are seamless and transparent across international borders. This type of collaboration is key to supporting global interoperability.”
Webinars on January 19 and 20 will provide more information about the DCSA eBL standards. Registration links can be found on the DCSA event page.