Costa Rica is the latest country to ratify the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention). The IMO treaty enhances communication between ships and ports to help shipments move more quickly, more easily and more efficiently.
Mr. Rafael Ortiz Fábrega, Ambassador of Costa Rica, met IMO Secretary-General at IMO Headquarters, London, on 12 February, to deposit the instrument of accession.
The Convention’s main objectives are to prevent unnecessary delays in maritime traffic, to aid cooperation between Governments, and to secure the highest practicable degree of uniformity in formalities and other procedures.
In particular, the Convention reduces the number of declarations which can be required by public authorities.
Amendments to the FAL Convention were adopted in 2016 and they entered into force on 1 January 2018, strengthening seafarers’ rights to shore leave. This new provision says there should be no discrimination on grounds of nationality, race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, or social origin. Shore leave should be granted, irrespective of the flag State of the ship.
Additionally, the FAL Convention amendments make it mandatory for ships and ports to exchange FAL data electronically from 8 April 2019. There is provision for a transitional period of at least 12 months, during which paper and electronic documents are allowed.
The FAL Convention encourages use of the so-called “single window” concept in which all the many agencies and authorities involved exchange data via a single point of contact. The maritime single window system allows for the streamlining of procedures, via electronic systems, for provision of information related to the arrival, stay and departure of the ship itself, and data on its crew, passengers and cargo, in accordance with the requirements of the FAL Convention.