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Following on from the page entitled "What is BICS?", this page provides a brief description of the new BICS version, the differences relative to the old (classical) BICS version and how you can request the new BICS version.


New BICS version 5: what has changed relative to the ‘old’ classic version of BICS?

BICS version 5 (the 2nd generation of BICS) is the completely new program for electronic reporting and reflects modern ICT developments. The BICS software still performs the same task: sending electronic reports to waterway managers. The difference: the new BICS software is designed for Internet use (web-based). In other words, the BICS user interface requires a standard Internet browser such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc. In addition, the facilities for integrating or interfacing BICS with other software, such as a stowage program, have been extensively expanded. Furthermore, the program has been made compatible with multiple platforms and a Linux version is now also available in addition to the Windows version. BICS version 5 not only supersedes the old version of BICS, but also ERI-Net, the former Internet version of BICS.

Due to the introduction of the new version of BICS, communication of the Notices to Skippers and Water Levels via BICS, commonly referred to as BOS messages, has been discontinued. Rijkswaterstaat has set up a new service for this where you can retrieve the information yourself or subscribe to specific waterway information (see

The minimum computer requirements for using the new version of BICS are Intel® Pentium® 4-processor with a clock speed of 1.5 GHz, 2GB RAM memory, 1 GB free disk space and Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8 or Linux Red Hat 6 or higher as the operating system. In addition, you require a modern Internet browser, such as Internet Explorer v9 or higher, Firefox v10 or higher, Chrome v19 or higher (see also the minimum system requirements).

Entering a voyage in the BICS version 5  Entering a voyage in the Dutch BICS (classic) cargo entry screen
Example: Differences between BICS version 5 and BICS Classic

The user screens in BICS version 5 have been developed based on input from skippers. It requires some acclimatisation; they look slightly different and data entry has also changed a little. However, experienced users will find that the new BICS software operates in generally the same way and that it includes a number of convenient additions, such as being able to find the names of places and substances more easily, and day and night modes.

Entering goods in BICS, selecting a substance name
Example: Selecting substance names in the goods entry screen (see also "Searching and selecting in BICS").

BICS night display
Example: Night display in BICS.


How are you affected?

Rather than distributing BICS on a CD-ROM as in the past, Rijkswaterstaat now makes it available 'online'. You can download BICS from this website. The software package has been modified and reduced in size to allow this (Windows version approx. 90 MB). This also means that you now always use the most recent version of BICS! Because BICS version 5 automatically maintains itself via automatic updates in the background. Not only does this make maintaining the software easier for you, it simplifies maintenance for Rijkswaterstaat as well and eliminates the need for distributing CD-ROMs to all ships. You can easily download and install the software yourself, with the aid of the instructions on this website if required. In addition, the BICS-helpdesk also provides any support you need when downloading, installing and using BICS.


How do I obtain BICS version 5?

Contrary to previous versions, the new BICS version 5 will no longer be distributed on CD-ROM, but can be requested and downloaded 'online' (via this website). The computer on which you intend to install BICS must comply with a number of minimum system requirements.

To sum up; you can apply for BICS in the following manner:

  • Request a new BICS messages service account via the BICS Account application form.
    Users of other "electronic reporting applications" can also request a new BICS (messages service) account using the aforementioned form (if the software application in question is approved for reporting) However, after obtaining your BICS account, you must follow the instructions (for downloading and installation) provided by the supplier of the application in question, and the subsequent steps described below do not apply.
  • Download the BICS software from the download section.
  • Next, install the BICS application. You need your BICS account credentials for this (see Using BICS => Installation).
  • Start the BICS application for the first time and enter the master settings, following which the application is ready for use (see Using BICS => Quick start guide).

If you require more (background) information about the new BICS software, please refer to the "Documentation" section, or contact the BICS Helpdesk.