Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

On this page, various frequently asked questions are answered. If the answer to your question is not listed, please contact the BICS helpdesk.

BICS General:

Accounts:

Installing/Uninstalling BICS:

Usage of BICS:

 


BICS General

What is BICS and what does it stand for?
BICS stands for the Inland Shipping Information and Communication System and is a computer program with which inland skippers can electronically report their journey and cargo data to waterway authorities. BICS uses international standards for electronic reporting, making it applicable in other European countries as well. For more information about BICS, you can visit the background information page.

Is BICS suitable for the Electronic Reporting Obligation?
BICS is fully capable of meeting the requirements of the electronic reporting obligation for all obligated vessels. You only need to fill in the requested data, and BICS takes care of the further processing of your travel notification. It uses the ERINOT message, which complies with the European standard. For more information about the Electronic Reporting Obligation, you can visit the background information page.

What device do I need to use BICS?
BICS is offered as free software on Windows, macOS (Apple), and Linux systems. To use the BICS software, you need a computer or laptop that meets the minimum system requirements. BICS is currently not available on mobile devices, such as iPhones and Android phones.

What do I need to do before I can start using BICS?
To use BICS, you need to take several sequential steps, namely:

  1. Create an RWS account: You can create an RWS account here.
  2. Request a BICS account: You can request a BICS account here.
  3. Download the BICS software: You can download the BICS software here.
  4. Install and configure the BICS software: Once your request for a BICS account is processed, you will receive the Welcome Letter via email, detailing step by step what you need to do.

More information about requesting a BICS account can be found here.

What is the Demo Mode of BICS and how do I use it?
You can also install BICS in demonstration mode, for example, for educational purposes or simply to try out the software. In this mode, you do not need a BICS account, but you also cannot send messages for the Electronic Reporting Obligation. You only have access to the functionalities of BICS to try them out. If you later decide to start sending messages, you will need to request an account and reinstall BICS.

You have the option to set up BICS in demonstration mode when you first start it after installation. In the First-use Wizard, select "Yes" for step 2 ("Demo Mode").


Accounts

What is the difference between an RWS account and a BICS account?
To use BICS, various accounts are required. Below describes the types of accounts and their purposes:

  • An RWS account, also referred to as a "SIAM-extern" account, provides access to various RWS services such as Lock scheduler and Vaarweginformatie. An RWS account is also required to request a BICS account, which gives you access to BICS services.
  • A BICS account, also known as a "Berichtendienst account," is required to use the messaging service as part of Electronic Reporting. Your BICS account consists of your RWS account and your Reporting ID, which you receive in the Welcome Letter after your BICS account request is processed.
  • A BICS user account, also referred to as the "login credentials," is automatically created when you install BICS on your device. By default, this account has the username "bics2" and the password "bics2," allowing you to log in to BICS. This user account grants you administrator rights within the BICS software on your device and ensures that your BICS account is not accessible to everyone. If you share your device with multiple individuals, it is recommended to change the default login credentials.

What should I do if I have forgotten my password?
It may happen that you forget one of your passwords. The following list indicates how to recover each password:

  • Recover my RWS account password: To recover the password for your RWS account, you can use this link.
  • Recover my BICS account password: You can change your BICS account password in the Berichtendienst account menu in BICS.
  • Recover my BICS user account password: When opening BICS on your device, you will be asked to enter a username and password. By default, these are set as the username "bics2" and the password "bics2." If you have set different login credentials in your BICS, please contact the BICS helpdesk. They can assist you in recovering this information. Advanced users with a Windows device can also attempt to independently reset the default login by executing the following command in the Command Prompt. Please ensure you use the correct file location.
    • For BICS v5: c:\bics2\current\bin\bics2cmd.bat reset-user-password BICS2_APP_USER BICS2_APP_USER_PASSWORD bics2 bics2
    • For BICS v6: (Note: first close the "bics2suite" service before executing the following command) c:\bics2\current\bin\bics2cmd.bat reset-user-password SA "" bics2 bics2

What is a Reporting ID?
A Reporting ID is the identification number of your BICS account, consisting of nine digits, always starting with 7000. The Reporting ID can be considered as an equivalent of a mailbox number. 
BICS uses the HERMES messaging system for the routing of sent and received messages. The Reporting ID enables the messaging system to identify the origin of submitted messages and determine the destination for delivered messages.

Can I use my BICS account on multiple devices simultaneously?
This is not recommended. Your BICS account contains a Reporting ID used by the messaging service to determine the delivery address. If you have BICS set up on different devices simultaneously with the same BICS account, it may result in messages being sent to the wrong device, affecting your information flow.

How can I change the details of my RWS or BICS account?
Depending on which account details you want to change, you can take the following steps:

  • Change RWS account details: If you want to change the email address of your RWS account, you can contact the BICS helpdesk. Changing the username of your RWS account is not possible. To do so, you need to create a new RWS account.
  • Change BICS account details: If you want to change your ship or contact details, you can do so by filling out the modification form. Ensure that if you make changes to your ship details, you must also update them in your BICS software through the hulls menu.

Installing/Uninstalling BICS

How can I install BICS?
To install BICS on your computer, you can follow the steps below.

Windows:

  1. Download the latest version of BICS for Windows from this website.
  2. Open the downloaded file named "BICS2-Install-6.x.x.yyyymmdd.exe". This file is typically located in the "C:\Users\<username>\Downloads" folder.
  3. Follow the instructions in the installer and click through until BICS starts installing. Note: The progress bar may hang at some point. BICS is installing during that time. Therefore, give your computer a few minutes to complete the installation.
  4. Start BICS using the desktop shortcut or by opening "http://localhost" in your browser.

macOS (Apple):

  1. Download the latest version of BICS for macOS from this website.
  2. Hold down the “command”/”cmd” key (⌘) and open the downloaded file named "BICS2-Install-6.x.x.yyyymmdd.pkg".
  3. Follow the instructions in the installer and click through until BICS starts installing. Note: The progress bar may hang at some point. BICS is installing during that time. Therefore, give your computer a few minutes to complete the installation.
  4. Start BICS by opening "http://localhost" in your browser.

Linux:

Note: BICS installation should be done as the root user, using the “sudo” command in a terminal window.

  1. Download the latest version of BICS for Linux from this website.
  2. Open a terminal window and type: "cd /home/<username>/Download". Note: Replace <username> with your own username
  3. Type in the terminal: "chmod +x BICS2-Install-6.x.x.yyyymmdd.bin". Note: Replace "6.x.x.yyyymmdd" with the specific version and date details of the file.
  4. Execute the installation file with administrator rights by typing in the terminal: "sudo ./BICS2-Install-6.x.x.yyyymmdd.bin". Note: Replace "6.x.x.yyyymmdd" with the specific version and date details of the file.
  5. Follow the instructions in the installer and click through until BICS starts installing. Note: The progress bar may hang at some point. BICS is installing during that time. Therefore, give your computer a few minutes to complete the installation.
  6. Start BICS by opening "http://localhost" in your browser.

BICS keeps a log file of the installation for troubleshooting purposes. This log file can be found in the directory "C:\Users\<username>\bics2-install.log" (Windows) or "/var/log/bics2-install.log" (macOS & Linux).

What should I do if I encounter an error code during the installation of BICS?
If you see an error code on your device during the installation of BICS, the installation has failed, and BICS is not installed. To resolve this, you can try the following options:

  • Close all other applications, browsers, and file explorer programs before starting the installation.
  • Verify if your device meets the minimum system requirements.
  • Ensure that you have the necessary rights on your device, namely administrator or root rights.
  • Make a new attempt to install BICS on your device, preferably after restarting your device.

If you encounter the error code again, please contact the BICS helpdesk.

What can I do if certain files remain blocked?
If you experience issues with files in use during the (re)installation or uninstallation of BICS, we recommend restarting your computer and trying again. Additionally, it is essential to close all other open programs, such as internet browsers, file explorers, text editors, and BICS (ensure all users are logged out). This prevents certain components from being in use or occupied during installation.

If this does not resolve your problem, please contact the BICS helpdesk. Advanced users with a Windows device can also attempt to unblock the blocked files independently by executing the script below as a .bat file. Ensure you use the correct file location:

SET DIRECTORY_NAME="C:\BICS2"
TAKEOWN /f %DIRECTORY_NAME% /r /d y
ICACLS %DIRECTORY_NAME% /grant administrators:F /t
ICACLS %DIRECTORY_NAME% /reset /T
PAUSE

Why can I specify ports during the installation of BICS?
During the installation of BICS, you are offered the option to specify the desired (network) ports. By default, HTTP port 80 and HTTPS port 443 are set. You do not need to change these settings for normal use.

Nevertheless, the BICS installer provides flexibility to choose alternative ports. There may be situations where it is desirable to use different network ports for BICS, such as conflicts arising when different applications try to use the same ports or when the network configuration must comply with specific requirements set by your organization's administrator.

How can I uninstall BICS?
To remove BICS from your computer, you can follow the steps below. Please note: Removing BICS will also delete your BICS data, such as hulls and voyages.

Windows:

  1. Navigate to the "C:\BICS2\Uninstall" folder and open the "Verwijder BICS2 installatie.exe" file, or open Control Panel, go to Programs and Features, select "BICS2", and click "Uninstall/Change".
  2. After opening the BICS uninstaller, follow the displayed steps to remove BICS from your computer.

macOS (Apple):

  1. Open a terminal window (the Terminal app).
  2. Go to the uninstall directory: "cd /Applications/BICS2/Uninstall".
  3. Run the uninstallation script: "sudo ./uninstall.sh".
  4. After completing the uninstallation script, BICS will be removed, including the entire BICS2 directory tree under /Applications.

Linux:

Note: The uninstallation of BICS should be done as the root user, using the 'sudo' command in a terminal window.

  1. Go to the uninstall directory: "cd /opt/bics2/Uninstall/".
  2. Run the uninstallation script: "sudo ./Remove\ BICS2\ Installation".
  3. After completing the uninstallation script, BICS will be removed, including the entire bics2 directory tree under /opt.

You may receive the message "Cannot remove folder: ..." after uninstallation. In that case, you can manually delete this folder after the uninstallation is complete.

If you also wish to cancel your BICS account, you can do so here.


Usage of BICS

What are the statuses of a voyage in BICS?
A voyage is considered registered when it has the "Registered" status. The steps in the process of registering a voyage can be summarized as follows:

  • A voyage starts in the "Planned" status after it is entered but not yet sent.
  • Once the voyage is sent, it is in the "Registering" status. A message is considered sent when a date and time are filled in the "Sent" field. A registered voyage is considered answered when a date and time are filled in the "Answered" field.
  • A voyage is considered "Registered" in the following cases:
    • When a confirmation is received (if the receiving authority system sends responses). Confirmation notifications are currently being sent in the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium.
    • If the message is sent when the receiving authority system does not send responses.
  • A voyage gets the status "Not registered" in the following situations:
    • When a negative response (rejection) is received.
    • If it fails to send the voyage message or deliver it to the authority.

What should I do if registering a voyage fails? (e.g., it hangs in "Registering")
A voyage message sent to the specified authority is considered sent when the date and time in the "Date/Time sent" field are filled. You can find this information by clicking "Message history" for the respective voyage. If the date and time in the "Date/Time answered" field are also filled, it means you have received a confirmation of your voyage message from the respective authority (note that not all authorities send responses). If it's not possible to send a voyage message, follow these steps:

  • Check your internet connection and signal range. Some areas along waterways may have weak coverage.
  • Verify if you correctly copied your account details from the Welcome letter to BICS. If you encounter an authentication error in BICS, this point applies to you.
  • Check the error message generated by BICS after the message is sent. You can find this error message by clicking on the respective voyage in BICS.
  • Check your antivirus settings. Your antivirus scanner may be blocking communication.
  • Restart your device and try to register the voyage again.
  • Enter the voyage again entirely and try to register this newly created voyage.

If the above steps do not resolve the issue, contact the BICS helpdesk as soon as possible.

Note: If registering your voyage fails but you are asked to prove that you attempted this, you can do so using the Transport document. To obtain this document, open the respective voyage, click "Documents," select "Transport document," and then click "Download."

When should I manually approve or reject a voyage?
Once a voyage is registered with the authority (with the status "Registering" or "Cancelling"), it is not possible to modify the voyage. Only after the registration has been successfully sent and a possible confirmation from the authority has been received can you modify or delete the voyage again.

In some exceptional cases, such as not receiving a confirmation or other issues, there is an option to manually approve or reject the voyage. This can only be done after the message is sent and has the "sent" status. However, it is crucial to perform this action always in consultation with the authority. Therefore, always check whether the voyage has been received by the authority or not.
If you expected a confirmation but did not receive one, contact the authority to verify if your registration has been received. Then follow these steps:

  • If the voyage is sent to multiple authorities and at least one authority has received and processed the voyage, choose the "Manually confirm" option in the user interface. This ensures that the registration is correctly confirmed to all authorities that received and processed the message.
  • If the voyage is only sent to one authority, and the authority indicates that the voyage has not been received or processed, select the "Manually reject" option.

Note: The use of the "manually approve or reject" feature is allowed only in exceptional cases and should not be applied in normal use. A manual approval or rejection of a voyage is displayed in reports and on the voyage's transport document.

What should I do if I encounter issues with reporting voyages in Flanders (Belgium)?
In Flanders, waterways use waterway permits. The voyage information from BICS is used for this purpose. If you encounter problems, check the following steps:

  • The voyage must be registered with the first reporting point "VLAAMSE WATERWEGEN (FLARIS)".
  • At least two intermediate points must be entered when creating the voyage report. As an intermediate point, it is best to specify a lock or structure on the route.

If your voyage is registered but not yet visible to the post/lock in Flanders, click "Modify" in BICS for the respective voyage. Check if your voyage report contains the above data, and then click "Save & register voyage." If you still experience reporting problems after this, contact the BICS helpdesk.

What should I do if I get a localhost error when trying to start BICS?
If you see the error "Localhost cannot find the webpage" when starting BICS on your device, it means that one of the services required to run BICS is not working correctly. In that case, contact the BICS helpdesk.

How can I start and stop BICS services on macOS (Apple)?
BICS relies on services on your device to function correctly. When BICS isn't working properly on your macOS device, for example, if it's giving a localhost error, you may need to manually start or stop these services. This can easily be done by executing the appropriate command in a terminal window (the Terminal app):

  • Start: "sudo /Applications/BICS2/current/bin/bics2ctrl.sh applic on"
    • Note: After executing the start command, it may take a moment for BICS to function properly.
  • Stop: "sudo /Applications/BICS2/current/bin/bics2ctrl.sh applic off"

How can I report empty voyages?
If you are not transporting any cargo and are empty, it is possible to create a voyage report with BICS to be known at traffic posts. The process for reporting empty voyages is similar to entering and reporting a new voyage. The only difference is that you do not enter any cargo rules for the respective voyage. The reporting procedure remains the same.

Note: According to ADN guidelines, when reporting voyages without transporting dangerous goods, you are still obliged to enter these goods as cargo rules with a tonnage value of 0. Reporting "empty from" (dangerous goods) works as follows:

  • Select the "New voyage" option and enter the required voyage details.
  • Because you are "empty from" (dangerous goods), it is necessary to enter cargo data, namely the dangerous (ADN) cargo from which you are empty. Indicate this by entering a weight of 0 tons or checking the "Empty from" box. This is to clearly indicate which dangerous cargo residues are still on board ("empty from" can also be relevant for signal flags).
  • After entering the required data, you can register the voyage.

What is the Backup & restore function of BICS?
Since version 6, BICS includes a backup and restore function. With this function, you can easily create a backup of your hulls and address data in BICS, and then reload it at a later time. This can be useful, for example, in situations where you want to reinstall BICS or when you want to use BICS on a different device.

Note: Ready-made backups can only be created and restored with BICS version 6 or higher. To restore hull data from an outdated version of BICS, click here.

To create a backup, follow these steps:

  • Click on "Backup & restore" in the BICS menu
  • Then click on "Create Backup"
  • A file named "backup.zip" will now be automatically downloaded. This file contains your hulls and address data from BICS.

To load the downloaded backup, follow these steps:

  • Click on "Backup & restore" in the BICS menu
  • Then click on "Restore Backup"
  • Select the previously downloaded backup named "backup.zip"
  • Your hulls and address data are now restored

How can I report a convoy with BICS?
When your sailing unit consists of multiple vessels during a voyage, this is considered a convoy. BICS provides the ability to easily report convoys. To do this, follow these steps:

  • First, create all the vessels of the convoy in your BICS by clicking "+ Hull" in the hulls menu.
  • Then, click "+ New voyage" on the main screen of BICS.
  • Navigate to the section called "Sailing unit".
  • Select the first vessel that is part of your convoy under "Hull".
  • Then click on "+ Add hull" and add the next vessel to your convoy.
    • Repeat this step until you have added all the involved vessels.
  • Now select the vessel that names the convoy in the "Naming vessel" field. The naming ship is generally the vessel that drives the convoy.
  • Then select the correct convoy type. You can also have BICS determine this by clicking "Suggest convoy type".
    • Depending on the selected convoy type, the dimensions of the convoy will be automatically filled in for you.
  • Then select whether the orientation of your convoy is "wide" or "long".
  • Finally, fill in the current draught of the convoy.

After filling in all the other required information, you can save and report your voyage.