Trade and Transport Single Windows

The e-Freight Single Window

Trade and transport related authorities have established an extensive range of agency-specific and country specific regulatory and operational requirements for international trade and transport with little coordination amongst each other, either at the national, European, or international level. As a result traders and transport operators face complex and duplicative reporting requirements and governments and businesses have to develop and maintain different systems to meet these requirements. 

This problem has become more acute in recent years with the requirements for advanced trade and transport notifications for security purposes, and the competitiveness requirements for interoperability in international supply chains.  

The “Single Window” is designed to overcome inefficiencies in mandatory reporting and regulatory control. 
The two development streams of trade facilitation (mainly customs) and transport   related reporting and surveillance (particularly maritime authorities) have been developing independently but are now begin to move in unison.

Trade facilitation

The concept of Single Window was introduced by   United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) to enhance the efficient exchange of information between trade and government.

According to UNECE (Economic Commission for Europe) Single Window is a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single entry point to fulfil all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements. If information is electronic then individual data elements should only be submitted once. In practical terms, the Single Window aims to expedite and simplify information flows between trade and government and bring meaningful gains to all parties involved in cross-border trade.

In the context of the European eCustoms and the Modernised Customs Code programme (Initiative coordinated by DG TAXUD), Single  Windows are foreseen to enable economic operators to lodge electronically and once only all information required by customs and non-customs legislation for EU cross-border movements of goods. National Single Window systems  are to be developed in all Member States which should be interoperable between themselves and with EU centrally-managed systems. The single administrative document, SAD, provides the documentary basis for customs declarations in the EU and in Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.

Maritime transport Single Windows

In the maritime transport sector, in parallel to trade related use of Single Windows as described above, the concept of Single Window has been used for some time now initially as Port Single Window to facilitate port state control reporting and more recently as National Single Windows (NSWs) to provide a single national interface for mandatory reporting by ships in European waters. The latter relates to Directive 2009/17/EC, in the framework of the Third Maritime Safety package, modifying Directive 2002/59/EC for establishing a Community vessel traffic monitoring and information system (the "VTM Directive"). One of the main objectives of the amended Directive is to guarantee that all Member States will be interconnected via the Community maritime information exchange system SafeSeaNet (SSN), in order to obtain a complete overview of the movements of ships and dangerous or polluting cargoes in European waters. Development pathways of NSWs differ from country to country but invariably are linked to Port Single Windows which in turn are increasingly linked with Port Community Systems (PCS). Finland is a pioneer in the deployment of national infrastructure implementing the single window concept