DCSA Releases First Set of Standards for Cargo Operations

Standards for communication of load lists and bay plans increase operational efficiency at port

Amsterdam, The Netherlands, September 29, 2020 – When preparing port calls, it is essential for the vessel operator to be able to forecast the estimated number of container moves (load and discharge) in order to estimate the required terminal equipment (cranes etc.), and hence, the duration of the call. As such, the vessel operator relies on receiving timely and accurate information from partners about the volume of containers they intend to load within their allocation and how the contents need to be stowed.

To address this need, DCSA has released Load List and Bay Plan Definitions, which puts forth standards and timelines for communication of container volumes and stowage details between VSA (vessel sharing agreement) partners, terminals and ports. In agreement with DCSA’s nine member carriers, the definitions combine existing event standards with recommended submission timelines developed by DCSA.

In setting the definitions, DCSA consulted four of the world’s largest terminal operators. We encourage other terminal operators with feedback to share on this topic to contact us at

Adoption of DCSA Load List and Bay Plan Definitions will help maximise efficiency of cargo operations and enable better planning of related shipping activities. This is the first in a series of standards releases from DCSA that specifically address cargo operations. Subsequent standards will expand to topics such as empty handling and dangerous goods.

Refer to the Load List and Bay Plan Definitions page for the standards documentation.

About DCSA:

Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) is a neutral, non-profit group founded by major ocean carriers to digitise and standardise the container shipping industry. With the mission of leading the industry towards systematic collaboration, DCSA drives initiatives to make container transportation services transparent, reliable, easy to use, secure and environmentally friendly. DCSA’s open source standards are developed based on input from DCSA member carriers, industry stakeholders and technology experts from other industries. DCSA member carriers include: MSC, Maersk, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, ONE, Evergreen, Yang Ming, HMM and ZIM. Please download DCSA standards at