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What is BICS?

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Electronic reporting of voyage and cargo information.

Skippers on domestic and foreign waterways report voyage and cargo information to the waterway managers. VHF radio is often used for this. The BICS inland shipping information and communication system makes electronic reporting possible. Ships and waterway managers exchange information via strictly secured electronic channels. Ships that have to comply with mandatory electronic reporting can use BICS for this. Other ships report electronically on a voluntary basis.

Skippers are familiar with BICS as a software package on their PC which they can use to send “BICS messages”. They do this because electronic reporting is a faster and more reliable way of providing information. And, above all, strictly confidential. Sensitive business and privacy-related information is fully protected. As a result, the VHF radio channels have been freed up again for purely nautical and emergency service communications. BICS has existed since 1996 and was developed to satisfy the need for a fast, simple and safe way of exchanging information between ships and waterway managers.

BICS has now also become the European standard for electronic reporting. From Rotterdam to the Black Sea, BICS can be used to register voyage, cargo and other information, depending on the exact details required by the waterway manager in question. So BICS is also available in multiple languages!

BICS context

BICS version 5 was made available in 2014. This version has been completely redesigned and restructured. It is future-proof and optimised for use via the Internet. BICS version 5 replaces all previous versions of BICS and ERI-Net.

BICS version 5 is available for skippers, shipping companies and shore-based organisations. You can easily request the new version of BICS via this website.

BICS functionality is based on modern Internet technology, meaning that the user interface can be accessed via an Internet browser. BICS can also be used if an Internet connection is not available. This is achieved by installing BICS software on a local computer. However, the skipper obviously requires access to an Internet connection in order to send the electronic report.

The next page contains additional descriptions of BICS functionality and details of how you can obtain the new version:

If you require more information about BICS, click "Documentation" in the menu or contact the BICS Helpdesk.