BIMCO launches Electronic Bill of Lading for bulk shipping

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 Bills 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.
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..

These interoperability issues for electronic bills of lading has been addressed by DCSA through its Phase 2 of eBL platform interoperability proof of concept (PoC)..


BIMCO is a founding member of the FIT (Future International Trade) Alliance, a cross-industry coalition of organisations alongwith DCSA, FIATA, ICC and SWIFT, working together to produce open standards for electronic trade documents..

“The digitalisation of documentation for container shipments will add value for international suppliers who rely on shipping across sectors,” said David Loosley, Secretary General and CEO of BIMCO.. “Aligning these standards with the electronic bill of lading standard for the dry and liquid bulk sectors, which we are developing with assistance from DCSA, will help accelerate the digitalisation of trade globally.” added Loosley at the announcement of the formation of the FIT Alliance in Feb 2022..

BIMCO’s eBL Standard is aligned with the UN/CEFACT Multimodal Transport Reference Data Model as well as the standards produced by DCSA and FIATA..

The BIMCO eBL Standard’s design will also be consistent with bills of lading used in the bulk sector like the CONGENBILL which means that the underlying framework applies equally to the various bills of lading formats developed by BIMCO and also to house bills of lading..