The Importance of ECTN in International Shipping

In today’s globalized economy, international shipping is crucial in facilitating trade between countries. One key aspect of this process is the Electronic Cargo Tracking Note (ECTN), the Bordereau de Suivi Cargaison (BSC). This article explores the importance of ECTN in international shipping, focusing on its benefits, requirements, and impact on the logistics sector.

What is ECTN?

The Electronic Cargo Tracking Note (ECTN) is a mandatory document required by certain countries for all cargo being imported into their territories. It serves as a pre-shipment verification tool that provides detailed information about the cargo and its movement between ports.

The ECTN is required by countries in Africa, including Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Ivory Coast, Republic of Congo, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, and Togo. It ensures that the necessary customs data is available before the goods arrive, facilitating smoother customs clearance.

Key Benefits of ECTN in International Shipping

Streamlined Customs Processes

The primary benefit of the ECTN is the streamlining of customs processes. Providing customs authorities with detailed information about the cargo in advance helps in faster clearance of goods. This pre-arrival information includes the shipper’s and consignee’s details, cargo description, loading and discharge ports, and intended delivery route.

Enhanced Security Measures

ECTN contributes significantly to security measures in international shipping. It helps in tracking cargo from the point of loading to the point of discharge, reducing the risks associated with cargo theft, smuggling, and other fraudulent activities. This tracking is crucial for high-risk regions where security concerns are paramount.

Cost Efficiency

Although obtaining an ECTN involves an additional cost, it ultimately contributes to cost efficiency in shipping. By reducing delays associated with customs clearance and minimizing demurrage and detention charges, ECTN saves money for both shippers and consignees.

Compliance with Regulations

Using ECTN helps shipping companies comply with the regulatory requirements of the destination countries. Non-compliance can result in fines, shipment delays, and other legal issues, thereby emphasizing the importance of ECTN in maintaining smooth international trade relations.

How to Obtain an ECTN?

Obtaining an ECTN involves several steps. Anyone can obtain the ECTN but usually, the shippers, exporters, or freight forwarders must apply for the ECTN before the cargo is shipped. The application starts by sending the required documents in PDF format through an agent or directly via the ECTN portals. The necessary documents typically include a commercial invoice, bill of lading, freight invoice, and customs declaration. Once submitted, the agency reviews the application and issues the ECTN certificate, which must accompany the cargo to the destination port.


The Electronic Cargo Tracking Note (ECTN) is an essential component of international shipping, particularly for countries requiring detailed cargo information before arrival. Its role in streamlining customs processes, enhancing security, ensuring cost efficiency, and facilitating regulatory compliance cannot be understated. As global trade continues to grow, understanding and implementing the requirements of ECTN will be crucial for businesses engaged in international shipping.


Who needs an ECTN?

Anyone shipping cargo to countries that require an ECTN must obtain one. It must be obtained before the shipment arrives.

What happens if you do not have an ECTN?

Failing to provide an ECTN can lead to severe penalties, including fines, delays, and possible rejection of the cargo by the destination country.

Is ECTN applicable to all types of goods?

Yes, ECTN applies to all types of goods, including hazardous and non-hazardous materials, for personal effects and diplomatic cargo in some cases. It is important to check the regulations of each country.

By understanding and utilizing ECTN, companies involved in international shipping can ensure smoother and more efficient trade operations, contributing to the overall effectiveness of global supply chains.

SCK Representations expert team has been dedicated to assisting shippers and freight forwarders with acquiring the ECTN Certificate since 2001. Get in touch with us for a swift and seamless shipping experience.

Comments are disabled.