Electronic Bills of Lading for Bulk Shipping

Hacı Kara
Jul 2022


The electronic bill of lading train has been gathering momentum quite rapidly in the recent years/months thanks to efforts from a lot of global trade and digitalisation bodies. COVID-19 really pushed the digital agenda in shipping and freight and one of the main challenges that many customers faced during COVID-19 lockdowns and continue to face in countries that still have COVID-19 lockdowns is the handling of original Bill of Lading. Organisations like DCSA and ICC have been pushing the electronic bills of lading and electronic trade document transfer agenda through the implementation of data standards. BIMCO, is an organisation and global shipping community of around 2,000 members in more than 130 countries aimed at facilitating trade and providing expert knowledge and practical advice to safeguard and add value to the shipping industry. BIMCO members cover over 60% of the global fleet and consist of local, global, small, and large companies.

BIMCO is renowned for:

1) creating and deliver maritime contracts using standardised terms,
2) explaining and influencing global regulation, promoting transparent and non-discriminatory standards and harmonisation within the shipping industry and
3) providing expert knowledge for shipping business services, training, information and market insight.

BIMCO has recently developed and published an electronic bill of lading standard (eBL Standard) for the bulk shipping sector with the aim of accelerating the digitalisation process through common industry standards for electronic bills of lading which has been missing previously. The eBL Standard is a structured dataset consisting of 20 predefined data fields that are common to bulk shipping bills of lading. As we know, while issue of electronic bills of lading has been possible for more than 20 years, the major obstacle to widespread adoption of electronic bills of lading has been interoperability between the eBL platforms although safe and well-established platforms approved by the International Group of P&I Clubs are available[1].