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FIATA Bill of Lading: Taking back control through digitalization

More than 350,000 Negotiable FIATA Multimodal Bills of Lading are distributed every year by FIATA’s Headquarters and through its National Associations.

In conformity with the UNCTAD/ICC Rules for Multimodal Transport Documents, the FIATA Bill of Lading (FBL) is a highly valued trade document, recognized by banks. However, the current multiplication of trade document versions is slowly diminishing the importance of this standard.

Many see the digitalization of the FBL per se as the ultimate goal to be achieved, but in reality, this is not where the real challenge lies. Digital versions of bills of lading already exist and have proved to work well. Creating a digital version of the FBL can be easily achieved, but what is crucial to address is the strengthening of control over its distribution and the enforcement of compliance checks. This can be facilitated through the digitalization process and will be one of the practical applications of FIATA’s digital strategy.

Tacking back control

FIATA's solution to digitize its FBL will focus on the restauration and development of the document’s integrity and traceability. How will this work in practice?

  1. FIATA will make its FBL standard available to software providers, so they can implement it in their system. FIATA members will be able to issue digital versions of the FBL through major Transportation Management Services (TMSs).
  2. FIATA members will be identified by TMSs through their FIATA digital identity profile (see the below box for more information), certifying that they are a valid FIATA member and that they fulfil the correct requirements to issue an FBL.
  3. FBLs issued through TMSs will be shareable through printed versions, PDF versions and fully digital (data) versions. Each document will be stamped with a FIATA QR code and unique number attached to it. This will certify the identity of its issuer and allow a full traceability of the document.
  4. Receivers of the FBL will be able to easily verify the validity of the document and the identity of its issuer, by scanning the QR code or uploading the document onto FIATA’s website.
  5. FIATA will know exactly how many of its FBL have been distributed and to whom, through the automated registry linked to the FIATA QR code attached to each document and FIATA’s digital identity profiles.


Proof of concept and promotion

A proof of concept of the FBL digital distribution solution will be implemented during the first quarter of 2021. A call for volunteers to participate will be shared through FIATA’s newsletter early in the year.

Once the proof of concept and the new processes have been validated, FIATA will be able to position the FBL as a reputable and trustworthy multimodal document, through promotional campaigns run by Association Members.


FIATA digital identity profiles

As  part of its digital strategy, FIATA is creating digital identity profiles for its members. This ‘digital passport’ will certify the identity of freight forwarding companies, certifying that they are valid FIATA members and that they fulfil the correct requirements to issue trade documents. This digital passport will also be used to allow FIATA members to access specific features and services, and to identify them as trustworthy data issuers and receivers. 


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