Q. Is the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic in force?
Yes. It was adopted in April, 1965 and entered into force in March 1967.
Q. What is its objective?
The Convention’s main objectives are to prevent unnecessary delays in maritime traffic, to aid co-operation between Governments, and to secure the highest practicable degree of uniformity in formalities and other procedures. The Convention aims towards reducing the number of declarations which can be required by public authorities.
Q. What difference it makes if the regulations in respect of customs and immigration are different in different countries?
Regulations followed in many countries are sometimes, unnecessary and heavily time consuming. Thus, they cause significant burden on the activities they are supposed to control. Different countries have developed customs, immigration and other standards independently of each other and a ship visiting several countries during the course of a voyage could expect to be presented with numerous forms to fill in, often asking for exactly the same information but in a slightly different way.
Q. Describe the structure of this Convention in brief.
The FAL Convention consists of 16 articles and one annex. The articles contain, general provisions, the scope of the convention, and the notification and entry into force requirements. The Annex of the FAL Convention contains the “Standards” and “Recommended Practices” on formalities, documentary requirements and procedures which should be applied on arrival, during their stay, and on departure to the ships, their crews, passengers, baggage and cargo. It also includes implementation procedures and appendixes that provide additional information to the Convention.
Q. How is the annex constructed?
The structure of the Annex is as follows:
- Definitions and general provisions;
- Arrival, stay and departure of the ship;
- Arrival and departure of persons;
- Arrival, stay and departure of cargo and other articles;
- Public health and quarantine, including sanitary measures for animals and plants;
- Miscellaneous provisions.
Appendix 1 IMO FAL Forms
Appendix 2 Form of stowaway details referred to in Recommended Practice 4.6.
Q. What are standards as referred to in the Convention? |
The Convention defines standards as internationally-agreed measures which are “necessary and practicable in order to facilitate international maritime traffic”.
The Convention provides that any Contracting Government which finds it impracticable to comply with any international standard, or deems it necessary to adopt differing regulations, must inform the Secretary-General of IMO of the “differences” between its own practices and the standards in question.
The Convention defines recommended practices as measures the application of which is “desirable”.
Thus, the Contracting Governments are urged to adjust their laws accordingly but are only required to notify the Secretary-General when they have brought their own formalities, documentary requirements and procedures into full accord.
Q. What was affected by the 2002 amendments?
These amendments entered into force in May 2003. The amendments add new standards and recommended practices for dealing with stowaways. Another amendment relates to the Dangerous Goods Manifest (FAL Form 7), which is the basic document providing public authorities with the information regarding dangerous goods on board ships.
Q. What was affected by the 2005 amendments?
These amendments entered into force in November 2006. The amendments were intended to modernize the Convention. Aim being to develop the necessary procedures in order to use pre-arrival and pre-departure information to facilitate the processing of information. Promote the Recommended Practice that all information should be submitted to a single point to avoid duplication; encouragement of electronic transmission of information.
An addition of references to the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code and SOLAS chapter XI-2 in the Standards and Recommended Practices. These mention security measures; and amendments to the IMO Standardized FAL Forms (1 to 7).
Q. What was caused by the 2009 amendments? What new things were introduced?
These entered into force in May 2010. The amendments are related to contents and purpose of documents; procedures; measures to facilitate clearance of passengers, crew and baggage; and facilitation for ships engaged on cruises. The amendments introduced the text of “voyage number”, and new IMO FAL Forms were approved.
Q. What are the recent amendments to the FAL Convention?
The 2016 amendments, which entered into force on 1st January 2018, introduced new definitions for Cargo Transport Unit (CTU), clearance, freight container, the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, Master, ship agent, shipper and single window.
Since 9 April 2019, Electronic exchange of information is mandatory with a transition period of no less than 12 months. The text now refers to the use of “Single Window” systems.
Q. Were any changes done in respect of declaration?
All IMO FAL forms were revised except for Ship’s Stores Declaration (IMO FAL Form 3). Three additional documents were introduced for ship’s clearance that may be required by the shore authorities. These are:
- Security-related information as required under SOLAS regulation XI-2/9.2.2.
- Advance electronic cargo information for customs risk assessment purposes.
- Advanced Notification Form for Waste Delivery to Port Reception Facilities.
Q. What is the FAL Committee?
The Facilitation Committee met for first time in April 1973. At the end of the 1980s, it was the only Committee not institutionalized under the IMO Convention. The IMO Council agreed to a proposal for its institutionalization “so as to ensure the complete legal reflection of the IMO’s structural activities”, which led to the adoption of the 1991 amendment to the IMO Convention that came into force in 2008.
Q. What are the functions of the Facilitation Committee?
The Facilitation Committee (FAL) deals with matters related to the facilitation of international maritime traffic, including the arrival, stay and departure of ships, persons and cargo from ports. The Committee also addresses electronic business, including the single window concept, and aims to ensure that the right balance is struck between regulation and the facilitation of international maritime trade.
Q. What is the responsibilities of party nations regarding E-addresses?
The Facilitation Committee, at its thirtieth session, in 2003, agreed that Member Governments be requested to provide information on E-Addresses of appropriate Governmental authorities (not of individual employees) for facilitating the exchange of electronic information between ships and shore-based authorities, indicating also the format of the data, e.g. e-mail with attachment, secure file, website address with web-based solutions, EDI requirements in accordance with the IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business and/or any other particulars necessary for the secure and safe handling of the information.
Q. Where can you find contact addresses of the offices of designated national authorities and international organizations for facilitation purposes?
FAL.5 / Circ.38 , dated October 2011 provides above list.
Q. What is the revised guideline from FAL in respect of stowaways?
Resolution FAL.13(42), adopted on 8 June 2018) provides revised guidelines on the prevention of access by stowaways and the allocation of responsibilities to seek the successful resolution of stowaway cases.
Q. What are the basic principles useful in preventing stowaway incidents and have been helpful in the speedy resolution of stowaway cases as provided in a recent FAL circular?
These principles are as follows:
- Stowaway incidents should be dealt with in a manner consistent with humanitarian principles. The operational safety of the ship the safety and well-being of the stowaway should be considered.
- Public authorities, port authorities, shipowners and Masters should try best to prevent stowaway incidents.
- Shipowners, Masters, port authorities and public authorities should have adequate security arrangements in place to detect stowaways at various stages.
- Adequate, frequent and well-timed searches minimize the risk of having to deal with a stowaway case and may also save the life of a stowaway.
- Public authorities, port authorities, shipowners and Masters should cooperate to the fullest extent possible in order to resolve stowaway cases expeditiously and secure their return or repatriation.
- Stowaways arriving at or entering a State without the required documents are, in general, illegal entrants. Decisions on dealing with such situations are the prerogative of the States where such arrival or entry occurs.
- Stowaway asylum seekers should be treated in accordance with international protection principles as set out in international instruments, such as the provisions of the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of July 1951 and of the United Nations Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees of January 1967 and relevant national legislation.
- Every effort should be made to avoid situations where a stowaway has to be detained on board a ship indefinitely
- States should accept the return of stowaways who have full nationality/ citizenship status in that State, or have a right of residence in that State.
- Where the nationality or citizenship or right of residence cannot be established, the State of the original port of embarkation of a stowaway should accept the return of such a stowaway for examination pending final case disposition.
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