The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has launched a free and online tool used by software developers to create systems for exchanging relevant data electronically.
IMO said streamlining the many administrative procedures necessary when ships enter or leave port is an important element of IMO's work.
"The IMO Compendium is a reference manual containing data sets and the structure and relationships between them, that will enable the IMO member states to fulfil a mandatory obligation for reporting formalities for ships, cargo and people onboard international shipping to be carried out electronically and in a harmonised way," the UN specialized agency for shipping said.
IMO said that overall, this helps make cross-border trade simpler and the logistics chain more efficient, for the more than 10 billion tons of goods which are traded by sea annually across the globe.
IMO noted that it is not the only organization dealing with electronic data exchange in maritime transport.
The World Customs Organization, it said, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the International Standards Organization, have aligned their own data structures with the IMO Compendium to promote harmonization.