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Entering and reporting a voyage

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This page is a quick start guide for "Entering and notifying voyages".

Tip: You can print this information on paper by clicking the printer icon at the top of the screen.

Click one of the topics listed below. Clicking the <back to top> link always takes you back to the list of topics at the top of the page.

You can find the user manuals and documentation on the page entitled "Using BICS => Manuals".



Entering and notifying a basic voyage

BICS offers a Basic and an Advanced mode for entering voyage and cargo information. BICS is normally set to the Basic Mode as standard and this is also the recommended mode for normal electronic reporting use by Skippers and Freight Forwarders. The Basic Mode setting is also the setting to which the BICS descriptions on this website refer..

The global procedure for entering and notifying a new voyage is as follows:

  • Click the "New voyage" button to start entering a new voyage.
  • Enter information in the "New voyage" screen in the following sections: Voyage, Sailing Unit and Cargo (possibly including Container Matrix).
  • Store the voyage.
  • Notifying (submitting messages for) the voyage.

(The entry fields in the boxes highlighted by thick black lines are mandatory. If these fields are not populated, the information cannot be stored and the system will display a warning message).

Entering a voyage and cargo information

You start the entry procedure for a new voyage from the dashboard in BICS by clicking the "New voyage" button or by importing a voyage via the "Import voyage" button (see screen below).

 NB: Changes to the cargo and/or vessel combination must be seen as the starting point for a new voyage and therefore reported as a new voyage!.

Example screen Entering a new voyage

Next, if requested to do so, select the Basic Mode. The "New voyage" entry screen, as shown below, appears now:

Example: Entering a new voyage in the Basic Mode
Example: Entering a new voyage in the Basic Mode.

The main entry fields for a new voyage are:

Voyage section:

  • Point of Departure and Destination: select from the search list (type the first letters of the desired term and an option list appears).
  • First reporting point: depending on the location of your point of departure, you can choose from a number of options. The first reporting point is determined by the authority to which your report is sent, which is generally IVS-Next system of RWS if your point of departure is in the Netherlands.
    In general, you must select the first reporting point that is associated with the region from which you are going to depart, which is generally the nearest initial traffic control station on your route.
    A number of guidelines for selecting the first reporting point:
    • If departing from the Netherlands, select IVS-Next (former IVS90) system.
    • If departing from Germany, select the traffic control station for the region from which you are going to depart.
    • If departing from Belgium, choose the Belgian waterway authority or the nearest Dutch traffic control station if you are going to travel from the border to the Netherlands (and want to report to the Netherlands immediately).
  • The total number of Persons on board.
  • The Signal display, i.e. the number of cones. Once you have entered all of the cargo, you can also have BICS determine the signal display.

Sailing unit section:

  • Type: Single Ship's Body or a Combination if you sail with barges.
  • Ship's Body, select the name of your ship here (if you set the name of your ship as the default value via the preferences function, it will be entered for you automatically)..
    After selecting the ship (not a combination), you can indicate any differing dimensions for this voyage.
    If you have selected Combination, (see screen below), you can use this field to add ship's bodies to the combination and you must enter the combination type and the dimensions..
    Example screen Sailing unit section for a combination
    Example: Sailing unit details in a voyage (combination) 

     Tip: You can create new ship's bodies 'on-the-fly' (without exiting the voyage entry screen) via the following option: "Administrative Data -> Ship's Bodies", see Create new ship's bodies, following which you can create the newly created ship's body in the Sailing Unit section..

Cargo section:

You can add goods (cargo) using the "+ Add goods" button , following which the Goods entry screen appears:

Example of the Goods entry screen 
Example: Goods entry for a voyage

The main fields in the "Goods" entry screen are:

  • Consignment: a consignment is used here as a way of automatically grouping goods based on the same loading and unloading location (you do not normally have to enter information here). .
  • Loading and unloading location: populated with default values from the voyage data. If necessary, you can change the loading and/or unloading location or select a consignment that has been entered previously (combination of loading and unloading location) via the "Consignment" field.
  • Form of Transport  (the choice of form of transport determines whether specific extra entry fields are displayed or not)::
    • Bulk: transporting dry bulk goods, generally not packaged and loaded directly into the ship's hold, such as: COAL, SAND, GRAIN etc. (see Goods, Bulk entry screen).
    • Container: container transportation where the containers may contain hazardous or non-hazardous goods. Container cargoes are associated with additional fields, such as Container number, type and stowage position (see Goods, Container entry screen).
    • Tanker: transporting liquid bulk goods, generally loaded in one or more of the liquid cargo holds in the ship such as: MILK, PETROL, etc. (see Goods, Tanker entry screen).
  • Ship's body: the ship's body in which the item is present/transported. As standard, the ship's name is entered here. If the cargo is located in a barge, you must explicitly select the barge and it must be part of the combination.
  • Hazardous substances y/n: if hazardous substances are involved (according to the ADN), you must enter Yes here to enable selection from the ADN substances list. If you select No, the non-hazardous substances list (HS code list) will be displayed.
  • Goods: you can select the name of the commodity/hazardous substance here. Depending on the choice made for "Hazardous substances ", you can select from the lists for hazardous (ADN) or non-hazardous (HS) substances.
    You can select the goods here based on the name or the code (e.g.: the UN number for hazardous substances or the Harmonised System code (HS code) for non-hazardous substances). If the names are too long, BICS will display a tooltip that contains the complete name when you hover your cursor above the item. You can use the magnifying glass icon on the right-hand side for an advanced search based on your choice of fields/components.
    Voorbeeldscherm Referentiegegeven markeren als favoriet Tip: You can mark certain items as favourites in all the selection lists in BICS by clicking the favourites icon (a star) on the right-hand side. For example: substances that you transport frequently or places that you visit regularly. Favourites will always be displayed at the top in the selection lists; this simplifies selection for the different entry fields.
    Example screen Goods selection  
    Example: Selection of a hazardous substance in the goods entry screen.
  • Empty of: only applies for hazardous substances; e.g. if residual vapours are still present ("empty of" implies a weight of 0.000 tonnes).
  • Disregard for signal display: you can use this field to indicate that a particular hazardous substance need not be considered when determining the signal display, e.g. substances that comply with the "Limited" and/or "Excepted" Quantities specified in ADN 3.4 and 3.5.
  • Container number, container type and stowage location: you can enter the container details here (if you have chosen "Container" as the Form of Transport).
  • The weight of the goods in tonnes (entered to an accuracy of one kilogramme.
  • Internal packing containers and the quantity of the packages: you can (optionally) indicate the quantities (number of packages) and/or the type of internal packing containers for the Commodity here (e.g.: CARS, "unpacked", quantity = 80 or PETROL, in Drums, quantity = 20). Indicating the type of internal packing containers and quantities maybe important in respect of goods that are transported in containers.

Finally, you can save the goods line you have entered using the "Add to Cargo" button.

Cargo matrix section:

You can populate the Container Matrix screen, in which you must indicate the total number of containers on board (if you are transporting containers), using the "Change Container Matrix" (button (located at the bottom of the Cargo section in the voyage entry screen). When container cargoes are entered as cargo lines, the system will automatically count them and enter default values in the matrix if you answer "Automatically determine Container Matrix?" affirmatively. You can modify this subsequently. The Container Matrix screen is presented as follows:

Example of the Container Matrix (container quantities) entry screen 
Example: Container Matrix; 10 empty 20 ft containers, 5 full 20 ft and 4 full 40 ft containers have being entered manually (as opposed to the value of 0 calculated by the system)

The main fields in the "Container Matrix" entry screen are:

  • Quantities of 20-29 ft full and empty containers (quantities include possible containers < 20 ft).
  • Quantities of 30-39 ft full and empty containers.
  • Quantities of 40 ft and longer containers, full and empty.

You can have the system determine the quantities by clicking the "Use calculated values" button. The system will then determine the quantities based on the cargo lines that have been entered for containers for this voyage. If you subsequently make additions manually or edit the result, the system will log this and indicate that the container matrix has been changed manually. If the container matrix has been modified manually, the system will ask you whether the container matrix should be calculated each time an addition/change is made to the cargo lines. Following confirmation, the system will perform a new count and overwrite any manual additions you have made.

After completing cargo data entry, you can have the system automatically determine the required signal display using the "Determine signal display" button at the top of the Voyage section in the voyage entry screen.

Finally, you can save the voyage you have entered using the "Save voyage" button Example screen Save voyage button (bottom right). If you do not wish to save the information you have entered, you can return to the summary by clicking the "Summary" button Example screen Back to voyage summary (WITHOUT saving any changes to the voyage data) (top left),). After confirmation, all of your most recent changes for this voyage will be discarded.

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Notifying a voyage (submitting messages)

After entering or editing a voyage, you can notify it electronically via the "Notify" button in the voyage (voyage must be expanded first).
Voyages for which an action is required (which can be notified for example) are highlighted by a symbol (see red circle) in the dashboard display.

Example screen Voyage ready for notification 
Example:Voyage ready for notification, highlighted (must be expanded first before notification is possible)

You can expand voyages by clicking anywhere on the white area in the voyage display in the Dashboard screen as shown above, following which you will see the various actions that are possible for the voyage in question (the different buttons). Certain buttons will be displayed or not displayed depending on the voyage's status.

Example screen Editing a voyage (including Notification) 
Example: Editing a voyage (including Notification)

You notify/submit the voyage by selecting the "Notify" button (in the expanded voyage), after which the "Notification" screen appears..

In the notification screen shown below, you can use the "Add new address" button to indicate one or more personal email addresses to which (a copy of) the EDI message will be sent (this CC function will generally only be required in special cases)..

Example screen Voyage notification 
Example: Voyage notification (submission)

 Note: messages can only be sent successfully if the communication status (top left) is displayed as "Good connection". If there is no connection (e.g. displayed communication status = Bad connection), the system will continue to indicate "Busy notifying" as its status until a connection is available and an attempt can be made to send the message. If necessary, set communication to "Good connectionmanually to abort this 'busy notifying' process and "unlock" the voyage so that you can make corrections or close it.

After selecting "Notify", the voyage status will change from "Planned" to "Busy notifying", as shown in the figure below:

Example screen Busy notifying the voyage

 Note: When a voyage's status is shown as "Busy notifying", you CANNOT make any changes to it for as long as a reply to the notification has not been received from the authority in question. Certain authorities do not send back a reply; in that case, the voyage's status will be displayed as Notified immediately after the message has been sent successfully.

The following possibilities exist after completion of the "Busy notifying" status phase:

  • Message successfully delivered to the mailbox, the message sent field is now populated with a date and time.
    Depending on whether BICS does or does not expect an answer, the "Busy notifying" status will remain active until an answer has been received (this may take 5 to 15 minutes, depending on your settings).
    If BICS does not expect an answer (e.g. in Germany), the voyage status will change to "Notified" immediately after the notification message has been successfully sent.
    If BICS does expect an answer (e.g. in the Netherlands), the voyage's status will only change to "Notified" when a positive reply has been received.
    If BICS expects a reply and is currently "Busy notifying" (message sent and BICS is waiting for the reply), you can also generate a reply manually via one of the "Manual confirmation" or "Manual rejection" links shown in the screen below (this option should only be used in the event of faults).
    Example screen Message sent (waiting for reply)
    As soon as a positive reply has been received, the date and time will be displayed in the Answer field and the voyage is displayed as Notified, see screen below..
    Example screen Voyage Notified (positive reply)
    If a negative reply is received, the date and time will also be displayed, but the message has been rejected and the voyage status will be displayed as "Not notified" .
  • Message rejected,  it was not possible to deliver/send the message (generally due to an incorrect setting, time-out or communication fault) and no time and date will be appear in the Answer field. If you receive a negative reply (see above), the message will be rejected, but a time and date will still appear in the answer field..
    If the message cannot be delivered or is rejected/not approved, the voyage will be assigned the status of "Not notified", see screen below.
    Example screen Voyage not notified (message rejected)
    You can determine the cause of the rejection and/or communication faults in the communication log (\BICS2\current\log\comm)
    If you are unable to send the message, please contact the BICS Helpdesk for support.

After the "Busy notifying" status phase has been completed, the voyage will appear with either "Notified" or "Not notified" as its status (see Flowchart for additional information).

Example screen Voyage successfully notified, can now be edited again. 
Example: Voyage with Notified as its status, meaning that the voyage can now be edited again (edit data, cancel, re-register or close).

If the voyage's status is shown as "Notified", you can cancel the voyage using the "Cancel notification" button or re-notify a different waterway authority using the "Re-notify" button  (see Re-notification).

If the voyage's status is shown as "Notified" or "Not notified", you can change the voyage if required using the "Change" button and make corrections before notifying the changed voyage again (via the "Register changes" button). Or you can close the voyage using the "Close" button, following which the voyage is transferred to the "Closed" tab and can no longer be edited. Note that voyages for the same ship are automatically closed (whenever possible) by the BICS application as soon as you register a new voyage for that ship (referred to as the Auto close functionality in BICS).

Example screen Voyage closed, editing is no longer possible. 
Example: Voyage status is Closed, meaning that the voyage can no longer be edited.

When the voyage is finally closed, you can find the voyage again under the "Closed" tab in the summary view and it can no longer be edited. You can however print the voyage data, copy the data for the purpose of notifying a new voyage or export the data (for archiving or possible re-use).

If you are subject to mandatory reporting and you are unable to comply with the requirements for mandatory electronic reporting with BICS, you can request support from the BICS Helpdesk 24 hours a day and 7 days a week (outside the stated business hours, only for emergencies relating to mandatory electronic reporting in combination with BICS).

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Viewing voyage information (printing a voyage)

You can always view the complete information for a voyage via the Transport document. The Transport document, which you can print (as a PDF document) or send by email, contains all of the voyage, cargo and communication (messages) information.

You can print the Transport document using the "Print" button in the (expanded) voyage editing screen, see below:

Example screen Editing a voyage (including Printing) 
Example: Editing a voyage (including Printing)

You can select one of the following formats for your printed document:

  • Transport document, contains all information about the voyage, cargo and messages communication (very useful if you require a clear summary on paper of all the information for your voyage and cargo).
  • CMNI document, shipping document in accordance with the CMNI standard (option only available if you have also entered the cargo).

Example screen Printing a voyage 
Example: Printing a voyage as a PDF document or sending it by email

The (printed) PDF documents created using this facility can generally be found as a PDF file ("CMNI xxxxxx.pdf" or "TRANSPORT xxxxxx.pdf") in the download section of your browser and/or in the associated download folder in the system.


The manuals, which can be found in the section entitled  "Using BICS => Manuals", provide more information about using BICS.

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Sending log information and viewing BICS version information

If problems arise when notifying voyages or using other functionalities in BICS, you can always contact the BICS Helpdesk for support. In most cases, the Helpdesk will ask you to send the BICS log (please only send the log if requested by the Helpdesk).

BICS provides a function for sending the log (by email) to an email address of your choice. To do so, click the Help option (top right) and the following screen opens:

Example of the BICS Help information screen (sending log information) 
Example: BICS Help screen (sending log information)

The Help (about) screen shown above informs you of the BICS version you are using and provides facilities for viewing the release notes and sending log information. The BICS version number and the release notes are displayed on the left-hand side of the screen.

The log information is grouped as follows:

  • Communication log: log information relating to communication, e.g. errors when sending/receiving messages via the RWS messages service and/or other configured messages services (mail servers).
    (The communication log can generally be found in the following directory: \BICS2\current\log\comm)
  • Application log: system log containing information about application operation, e.g. errors when importing/exporting.
    (The application log can generally be found in the following directory: \BICS2\current\log\system)
  • Update log: log information about updates, e.g. reference data updates and application updates.
    (The update log can generally be found in the following directory: \BICS2\current\log\update)

You can send log information for the BICS Helpdesk to the following address: (or a different specified address).
The selected log information will be sent by BICS as a zip file containing the available log information from the relevant directory for the chosen category.

You can view the log information (if you wish) by opening the log files in the relevant directories (using your file management system) or by mailing them to yourself.

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