THE Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), in conjunction with its nine member carriers, has published interface standards and messaging API (application programming interface) specifications for all 50 event timestamps defined in its port call data definitions.

The interface standards address the six main parts of a port call: berth arrival planning; pilot boarding place arrival and service planning; pilot boarding place and berth arrival execution; start cargo operations and services; services and port departure planning; and port departure execution.

The interface standards allow carriers, ports, terminals and other service providers involved in a port call to exchange event data in a uniform way, enabling automated data exchange.

Thomas Bagge, CEO of DCSA said, “Customers of shipping services want visibility and predictability; having a complete set of standards for port calls is an important step towards improving the efficiency and accuracy of data exchange between all parties.

“The port call is the perfect way to showcase how critical it is to have an interoperable technology framework that enables seamless communication and cross-stakeholder collaboration.”

The complete framework of just-in-time port call standards supports digital port call planning, increased operational efficiency and optimal resource utilisation. It is the next major milestone in the effort to achieve a more transparent vessel voyage ecosystem following the 2020 publication of DCSA Standards for Operational Vessel Schedules, which enable automatic sharing of schedule information between vessel operators and their partners.

By moving container shipping towards a more efficient port call process, DCSA standards enable container ships to optimise their steaming speed, thereby lowering fuel consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr Bagge said by adopting DCSA standards for just-in-time port calls, operational vessel schedules and track and trace, the industry will see “an emerging digital ecosystem where these activities turn into collaborative, data-driven, digital processes”.

“Carriers, ports, terminals, service providers and customers of container shipping alike will gain efficiency, cargo visibility and cost savings,” he said.

“Digitalisation also improves sustainability through better communication and planning, thereby reducing fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and paper waste.”


To provide a global industry framework that preserves investments, DCSA collaborated with ITPCO and IMO to align port call data definitions to existing standards. The standards are being tested by carriers, ports and terminal operators at multiple ports around the world. These tests will help DCSA ensure its standards address the needs of stakeholders.

All API definitions are available to download for free from SwaggerHub, and reference implementations are posted to GitHub. DCSA port call data definitions can be freely downloaded from the DCSA website.

Phanthian Zuesongdham, head of division port process solution of Hamburg Port Authority said, “Achieving just-in-time port calls requires accurate, real-time communication between carriers, ports and terminals.

“DCSA digital standards are key to enabling this level of communication on a global scale.

“We are excited to be part of this effort to test the efficacy of their standards for optimising a very important container shipping process”.