Bill of Lading 3.0 Beta 2

Standard documentation

1.1 Preface

DCSA envisions a digitally interconnected container shipping industry. Our mission is to be the de facto standards body for the industry, setting the technological foundation for interoperable IT solutions. Together with our member carriers, DCSA creates vendor-neutral, technology-agnostic standards for IT and non-competitive business practices. By working towards the widespread adoption of these standards, our aim is to move the industry forward in terms of customer experience, efficiency, collaboration, innovation, and respect for the environment. Please refer to the DCSA website for more information.The objective of the DCSA Data and Interface Standard program is to strengthen the container shipping industry’s ability to send and receive data across all parties in the industry. Furthermore, it aims to enhance inter-carrier cooperation based on shared requirements and to ensure interoperability by using a shared data language. This language is inspired by existing standards and is aligned with the industry process definitions put forth in the DCSA Industry Blueprint.The standards published by DCSA are technology agnostic. DCSA does not point to the use of specific vendors’ technologies or systems but relies on open-source, shared requirements for the industry that can be used by all parties, regardless of their choice of technology.This chapter describes the purpose, scope, conformance and supporting publications of this document.
The objective of the DCSA Data and Interface Standard program is to strengthen the container shipping industry’s ability to send and receive data across all parties in the industry.

1.2 Purpose

The objective of the DCSA Interface Standard for the Bill of Lading is to simplify the exchange of information between shipper, carrier and consignee, as related to Transport Documents. In doing so, this publication supports standardisation of the fundamental information exchanged between shippers and carriers. The focus of this publication is to ensure agreement on the shared requirements and standards that must be followed to streamline inter-operational functionality and data sharing across relevant industry participants.Agreement on standards will ensure that data exchange interfaces, including functionality and data provided, will follow the same definitions and design. The aim is to ensure that the end-user experience remains consistent across all industry participants who use these standards. Hence, the interface elements must remain consistent whether they are built using EDI messaging, interactive UIs, APIs, manual data exchanges or any other interface technology.
The objective is to simplify the exchange of information between shipper, carrier and consignee, as related to Transport Documents.

1.3 Scope

1.3.1 Process
The Interface Standard for the Bill of Lading focuses on the process steps “Shipping Instructions and Draft Transport Document” and “Transport Document Issuance, Amendment and Surrender” as part of the end-to-end documentation process:

1.3.2 Actors
In defining a technology-agnostic interface standard, the interface describes all exchanges of information between any two parties. For the exchange of information regarding Shipping Instructions and Transport Document, the most relevant parties are:
  • Shipper
  • Consignee
  • Carrier
Many other parties may be involved in the exchange of information regarding shipments, such as financial institutions and tax authorities. These are not in scope of this publication.
1.3.3 Documents
The Interface Standard encompasses and addresses the following types of documents:
  • Shipping Instructions
  • Transport Documents
  • Bill of Lading
  • Sea Waybill
These are defined as follows:
  • Shipping Instructions: “An enrichment to the original booking shared by the shipper to the carrier and the resulting booking confirmation issued by the carrier to the shipper. The Shipping Instructions include final shipment parties, goods description, volume, weight, and other special instructions. The information given by the shipper through the Shipping Instructions is the information that is required to create the Transport Document”.
  • Transport Document:  The document that governs the terms of carriage between shipper and carrier, which can be in hard copy or digital format. Two distinct types of transportation documents exist:
  • Bill of Lading: “Contractual document issued to the shipper which confirms the carrier's receipt of the cargo, acknowledges goods being shipped or received for shipment, and specifies the terms of delivery (as evidence of the contract of carriage). The Bill of Lading is a document of title to the goods and can be a negotiable document. Negotiability implies that the document can be transferred from one party to another, and the transfer of the document is necessary for the transfer of ownership of the goods. The Bill of Lading is usually prepared based on Shipping Instructions, including cargo description, given by the shipper on forms issued by the carrier. When issued in digital format it is referred to as an electronic Bill of Lading (eBL).”
  • Sea Waybill: “A non-negotiable document which is evidence of contract of carriage and receipt of the goods. A Sea Waybill is not a document of title, it must be issued to a named consignee and is not transferable to a third party. The consignee can take possession of the goods without presenting the original Sea Waybill. This can expedite the process of receiving the goods at the destination. When issued in digital format it is referred to as an electronic Sea Waybill (eSWB).”

1.4 Conformance

All parties in the container shipping industry are encouraged to implement and follow the data and interface requirements outlined and specified in this document. The requirements are linked to the UML version 2.0 diagrams for design requirements as well as the Logical Data Model and data definitions for information requirements, which must be implemented to conform to the agreed standards within the DCSA framework.

1.5 Supporting publications

This standard is supported by a range of supplementary DCSA publications. The supporting publications are listed in the table below.


This document contains a complete list of the attributes that are relevant input for the use cases defined in the Interface Standard for Bill of Lading 3.0 Beta 2, including a stipulation as to whether the fields are mandatory, conditional, or optional per process step.

The DCSA Information Model has been created to organise and catalogue the information being generated or consumed in connection with the processes described in the DCSA Industry Blueprint. The information model is also used as a collective term to describe all products that model data. The information model includes a diagrammatic representation of selected data entities and their relationships with one another.

This document promotes alignment of terms across all DCSA stakeholders in the container shipping industry. The Glossary is published on the DCSA website in the context of the DCSA Industry Blueprint.

This document provides insights into as-is carrier processes. The DCSA Industry Blueprint comprises processes related to the movement of a container/equipment from one location to another, processes that are linked to a shipment/booking, processes that are considered critical for industry digitisation and standardisation efforts, and finally processes that are not considered commercially sensitive or of competitive advantage.

Explore standard documentation chapters