On 1 January 2018, the amendments to the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention) entered into force globally.

The FAL Convention aims to harmonize procedures for the arrival, stay and departure of ships in and from ports. It includes mandatory “Standards” and “Recommended Practices” on formalities, documentary requirements and procedures which should be applied on arrival, stay and departure to the ship itself, its crew, passengers, baggage and cargo.

Among the changes introduced there is the obligation for national governments to make electronic information exchange, including electronic data interchange (EDI) compulsory for thetransmission of information relating to maritime transport. This system should be in place by 8 April 2019, with provision for a transitional period of at least 12 months during which both paper and electronic documents would be allowed.

Also the international standard on shore leave was amended. It now prohibits any discrimination based on nationality, race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, or social origin. Shore leave should be granted, irrespective of the flag State of the ship.

Finally, the section on preventing stowaways has been modified: national authorities are recommended to apply operational procedures equivalent to those in the IMO International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, to prevent stowaways boarding ships.

Further information is available at the following LINK.