SW – Maritime
IMO Maritime Single Window
Recommended practice in the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) FAL Convention encourages the use of the ‘single window’ concept, to enable all the information required by public authorities in connection with the arrival, stay and departure of ships, persons and cargo to be submitted via a single portal without duplication.
In April 2019, the FAL Committee issued revised guidelines for setting up a Maritime Single Window. These serve as a source of information, advice and guidance for Member States looking to create a MSW and provide examples of the experience and knowledge gained by some Member States in approaching the implementation of a MSW.
Shipping companies engaged in international trade are regularly required to submit large volumes of information and documents to ports and governmental authorities, in order to comply with regulatory requirements. The information often has to be submitted through several different agencies, each with its own specific system and paper forms. These requirements, together with the associated compliance costs, constitute a burden both to Governments and to the business community and can be a major barrier to the development of international trade, particularly in developing countries.
Establishing a Single Window facility is one means of addressing this problem. It can enhance the availability and handling of information and can simplify and expedite information flows between trade and Government. It can also bring about greater harmonisation and better sharing of the relevant data across governmental systems, bringing meaningful gains to all parties involved in cross-border trade.
European Maritime Single Window – European Commission
On 20 October 2010, the European Parliament and the European Council adopted Directive 2010/65/EU on reporting formalities for ships arriving in and/or departing from ports of the Member States. This legislation is more commonly known as the Reporting Formalities Directive (RFD).
The objective of the RFD is to simplify and harmonise the administrative procedures applied to maritime transport. It set out an obligation for Member States to establish National Single Windows (NSW) for reporting formalities for ships arriving in and/or departing from ports, by 1 June 2015 for the 14 reporting formalities listed in the Annex of the RFD. The information
should be submitted electronically and only once, thus removing the need to submit the same or similar information separately to different authorities. Furthermore, the Directive requires that the reporting formalities are requested in a harmonised manner in all ports within an EU country.
In 2016, the Commission launched a REFIT evaluation of the RFD together with the VTMIS Directive. The outcome of the support study leads to the conclusion that the objectives of the RFD were not (or were only partially) attained.
Towards a European Maritime Single Window environment – European Commission
The Member States and the industry are requesting that the Commission acts urgently. On 29 March 2017, the EU Transport Ministers underlined in the Valletta Declaration the shortcomings of the Reporting Formalities Directive and invited the Commission to propose a follow-up to the evaluation of the RFD, which would include a harmonised European Maritime Single Window environment. In their joint statement on 1 March 2017, major EU shipping associations urged the EU to launch a fundamental overhaul of the Reporting Formalities Directive with a view to creating a true European Maritime Single Window environment. The Valletta Declaration was endorsed by the Council of the EU on 8 June 2017.
Considering the perceived limitations of the RFD and the NSWs, there is a need to move towards a genuine and harmonised European Maritime Single Window environment – containing, amongst others, the following characteristics:
- Fully harmonised interfaces available to ship operators to provide information in the same way and format across the EU.
- A standardised maximum data set including the information necessary for the management of port and port terminals in order to ensure true submit-only-once.
- Any relevant data already provided to authorities should be made available and not be required again.
Note: A number of international organisations and bodies have defined Single Window, sometimes with regards to their area of interest and activity. IPCSA has used the information publicly available from these sources to provide information on these concepts and has credited/referenced the relevant organisations either through links to their websites or in a direct reference.