E-certificates in demand

Class society DNV GL has been running pilots on electronic certificates for several years, achieving IMO compliance and winning the endorsement of many flag states, 53 as of April 1 this year.

In a historic first for the ship classification industry, DNV GL commenced the roll out of IMO compliant electronic class and statutory certificates across its entire fleet on October 16 last year, and has today provided an update in the huge demand for this paperless breakthrough.

“This shows just how fast the technology can be taken into use once it has proved viable,” Morten Østby, senior principal consultant at DNV GL, said in a release today. “Within six months after the rollout in mid-October 2017, approximately 70,000 electronic certificates have been issued on more than 7,500 vessels in operation, including many class entries and newbuilds, and the number is growing rapidly every day.”

Customers benefit significantly, Østby maintained, by being able to share certificates globally immediately upon issue.

“Ports, vetting organizations, flag states, charterers, buyers, insurers – everyone wants to see the certificates,” he said. “Before, owners and captains had to keep track of the original while sending multiple copies to land. Manual updates were an overwhelming task, and the system was by no means secure. Now the digitally signed original is secure but easily accessible in the Cloud.”

Using an e-mail subscription function, each update of an e-certificate or issuance of a new one triggers a notification to all involved parties, with the verified document attached. Documents are accessible through the DNV GL interface. In addition, provisions to carry out authentication/validation checks and access can also be granted via a secure public website,, using a unique tracking number (UTN) on the certificate or by sharing temporary access codes generated from the fleet status portal.

The overall response from flag states to the electronic certificate regime has been positive.

“So far more than 85% of the DNV GL fleet is covered by flag acceptance for issuance of statutory certificates on their behalf,” Østby said.

Many owners have requested e-certification for all their ships as soon as possible. “Owners see the benefits. Endorsements are verified and completed automatically, complex processes such as frequent certificate updates are automated, and there is no human handling of documents,” Østby elaborated. “That reduces the quality assurance work to verify certificates, and once they are in the system, they can never be lost.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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