Maritime Compliance: Maritime Single Window (MSW) mandatory as from 01 Jan 2024


( As from the start of 2024 every port is now mandated to have a single window system for digital information exchange between stakeholders on arrival, stay and departure of vessels.

In 2022, the IMO's Facilitation Committee adopted amendments to the Annex to the Facilitation (FAL) Convention which will make the single window for data exchange mandatory in ports around the world, marking a significant step in the acceleration of digitalization in shipping. The amendments adopted by resolution FAL.14(46) on 13 May 2022 enter into force on 1 January 2024.

The amendments update the provisions of the FAL Convention on mandatory electronic data exchange in ports for ship clearance. The amendments to the annex of the FAL Convention will make it mandatory for public authorities to establish, maintain and use single window (SW) systems for the electronic exchange of information required on arrival, stay and departure of ships in ports. In addition, public authorities will have to combine or coordinate the electronic transmission of the data to ensure that information is submitted or provided only once and re-used to the maximum extent possible.

Guidelines for setting up a maritime single window (FAL.5/Circ.42/Rev.3)

The single window environment as set out in the FAL Convention should be implemented based on these Guidelines.

The Guidelines offer guidance to public authorities or Administrations responsible for developing or modifying environments for a Maritime Single Window (MSW) and Contracting Governments that encourage the introduction of MSW environments to the public authorities, etc.

The Guidelines for setting up a maritime single window (FAL.5/Circ.42/Rev.3) are available here.

IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business

The IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business consists of an IMO Data Set and an IMO Reference Model covering the scope of the MSW and beyond. The use of the IMO Data Set and IMO Reference Model ensures that IT systems from different stakeholders can exchange data electronically with shared meaning, supporting the harmonization of maritime single windows (MSWs) and of other ship-port data exchanges. More details about the IMO Compendium here.

IMO awareness raising campaign on MSW

Watch again the two events organized by the IMO Secretariat in partnership with IAPH and BIMCO to raise awareness of the deadline for implementation of the MSW and to share hands-on experience from Member States in the implementation process (a webinar in October 2022 and a symposium in January 2023).

GISIS Module on MSW

Member States are invited to complete the new GISIS module created to share information on maritime single windows implemented by Member States. The module is designed to facilitate the sharing of best practices and support the IMO Secretariat in monitoring the progress of SW implementation globally and to better target IMO technical assistance.

Resolution on recommended actions to accelerate the implementation of the maritime single window

The Committee adopted resolution FAL.16(47) on recommended actions to accelerate the implementation of the maritime single window which will be mandatory from 1 January 2024.

The resolution stresses the benefits of the implementation of single windows in the ports of Member States and:

  • Urges Governments to adopt, implement and effectively apply the maritime single window concept to ship and port clearance processes;
  • Invites Governments advanced in their maritime single window implementation to share know-how and experiences with States seeking assistance in developing their own maritime single window;
  • Calls on Governments to share the lessons learned and expand from build on the benefits of implementing maritime single windows, such as improving safety and efficiency of maritime operations, strengthening supply chain resilience and reduction of emissions;
  • Encourages Governments to utilize the IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business when developing electronic information exchange systems as far as practically possible to ensure harmonization and interoperability across systems and stakeholders; and
  • Invites Governments to provide detailed information on their implementation of the single window concept in GISIS to facilitate the access to best practices by interested Member States/parties.

Guidelines on authentication, integrity and confidentiality of information exchanges via maritime single windows and related services

These Guidelines provide general requirements for a digital system or platform that can be used to provide authentication, integrity and confidentiality in digital information exchanges via maritime single windows and related services (FAL.5/Circ.46). These requirements are developed primarily for information exchanges related to the ship, its passage through international and national waters and its port calls. For information exchanges that rely on VHF Data Exchange System (VDES), appendix 3 (Guidelines to signature system in an international shipping environment) and appendix 4 (Guidelines to low-bandwidth communication systems) provides the general requirements for signature systems to be used in VDES context.

The Guidelines on authentication, integrity and confidentiality of information exchanges via maritime single windows and related services (FAL.5/Circ.46) are available here.

Ship-to-shore operational data exchange and just-in-time port operations

In 2023, the FAL Committee approved the Guidelines for harmonized communication and electronic exchange of operational data for port calls (FAL.5/Circ.52).  These guidelines are intended to provide guidance on the implementation of an electronic and, automated exchange of operational data between a ship and a port.  The guidelines can facilitate a uniform way for implementation of the Just In Time (JIT) arrival concept.

The Guidelines for harmonized communication and electronic exchange of operational data for port calls (FAL.5/Circ.52) can be found here

Single Window for Facilitation of Trade (SWiFT) Project

The Single Window for Facilitation of Trade (SWiFT) Project is a collaboration between IMO and Singapore aimed at developing an MSW system to allow electronic submission, through one single portal, of all information required by various Government agencies when a ship calls at a port. The Port of Lobito, Angola, is the pilot recipient port.

The project uses a change management model. The project identifies and validates the port clearance process for each of the port's stakeholders and conducts user interviews on functional and non-functional requirements to develop the technical architecture and design of the MSW system. User interface and user experience (UI/UE) elements will also be integrated into the product delivery. The project aims to establish an efficient digitalized system for electronic exchange of information in ports for ship clearance in the port scaling up and being used as a template to benefit more developing countries in subsequent phases.

Following a request from Angolan Agência Marítima Nacional (National Maritime Agency – AMN), IMO conducted a fact-finding mission to Angola from 23 to 27 January. The objectives of the mission were to assess the project status, to identify and address the gaps to accelerate and complete the project as scheduled for September 2023 for training and hand-over. The assessment considered the diplomatic, governance and technical perspectives of the challenges faced.


In light of the dramatic increase in the use of digitalized systems across the maritime sector, the FAL Committee has considered the facilitation aspects of protecting the maritime transport network from cyber threats, including the need to address particular risks to maritime single windows, processes for electronic certificates and data exchange between ships and shore, pre-arrival information based on the Facilitation Convention and processes involving ship-port interface.

IMO guidance includes Guidelines on Maritime Cyber Risk Management to address cyber risks in the maritime domain and Resolution MSC.428(98) on Maritime Cyber Risk Management in Safety Management Systems, encouraging shipping companies to address cyber risks in their safety management systems.


Source: IMO




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