It is now more than two years since Descartes signed the first agreement with the Nippon Automated Cargo and Port Consolidated System (NACCS) Center to help our customers ensure compliance with the Japan Ocean Advance Filing Rules (AFR), also known JP24.

The industry has come a long way in the 9-months since the regulation went into effect on March 10, 2014. As with most regulations, details are continuously refined until an initiative can be considered a well-oiled mature regulation. With the Japan Ocean AFR, this has certainly proved to be the case for Non-vessel Operating Common Carriers (NVOCCs).

Although NVOCCs are free from actually operating a physical fleet of vessels, they are certainly not free from many regulatory responsibilities. NVOCCs are often held to the same standards and required to transmit the same data sets as carriers. In the case of the Japan Ocean AFR, NVOCCs were unable to fully bridge the regulatory gap since they often do not have access to the same information as carriers.

Carriers know more about their conveyance simply because they operate the vessels. From Maritime Mobile Service Identifiers (MMSIs), call signs, deadweight (DWT) and other detailed vessel- and equipment-related information, carriers have access to a greater volume of data.  However, due to the nature of their business, consignors such as NVOCCs frequently only have access to house-level data. 

Japan Ocean AFR IML Data Bridge NVOCCs often do not have access to all the data elements required for a complete Japan Ocean AFR submission. A bridge was required to send additional information to NVOCCs.


The Descartes NVOCC customer base has an advantage through an option to submit a full set of information via an Inquiry Advance Cargo information List (IML) data bridge within the Descartes Japan Ocean™ Advance Filing Rules (Descartes Japan Ocean™ AFR) solution.  Missing data elements, like the vessel call sign which are often only readily available to carriers, may also be transmitted. It is important to note that this data element differs from the from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) number.     

The solution not only allows NVOCCs to query what information has been submitted by carriers, but also features the ability to directly query Japan Customs for missing information. This data bridge is helping NVOCCs improve data quality, better ensure the completeness and timeliness of Japan Ocean AFR submissions and succeed in today’s regulatory environment.

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Written by Jos Nuijten

President, Network Integration Strategy