The UK Electronic Trade Documents Act is here. Are you ready to go paperless and digitise your trade document process?

Published: September 18, 2023
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Now is the time to go digital and enjoy the benefits of the Electronic Trade Documents Act

When developing our digital document solution, trace:original, in close cooperation with clients, we have found and overcome many challenges.
By sharing our learnings, we aim to help you avoid pitfalls and take advantage of the benefits of the Electronic Trade Documents Act.

Below you will find some questions and considerations to support your successful digitalisation together with a use case that clearly shows the benefits of digital trade.

80% of all global trade is based on UK law. According to the previous law it was not possible to possess documents that are intangible. Paper-based processes are inefficient, error-prone, and subject to frequent delays – particularly in times of disruption. There are also the environmental costs of paper to consider. 

The UK Electronic Trade Documents Act allows electronic documents as long as they fulfill all the necessary legal requirements. This means that an electronic document can be used instead of a paper document. Allowing electronic documents is an important building block for automation in trade and finance. 

What can you as an exporter or importer do to promote a rapid adoption and use of electronic trade documents? 

Ask the stakeholders you are in contact with if they are willing or capable of handling electronic tradedocuments. Here are some examples of important stakeholders: 

  • Your trading partner 
  • Your bank 
  • Your freight forwarder 
  • Your carrier 
  • HMRC 
  • Border Control 
  • Any issuer if needed certificates regarding the goods. E.g., your local Chamber of Commerce

Use case

Fr. Meyer’s Sohn, Th Brunius & Co AB and Enigio AB

In May 2023 the first digital end-to-end trade transaction was completed using trace:original, with multiple parties and document types including electronic bill of lading. 

The goods shipped were paper products from Antwerp, Belgium to Delhi, India. The freight forwarder Fr. Meyer’s Sohn organized the transportation and subsequent issued the electronic bills of lading, the global trader Th Brunius & Co AB adding trade documents including invoice, packing list, insurance policy and certificate of origin. The documents were received digitally by the importer as well as Fr. Meyer's Sohn in India who released the goods. This transaction was based on contract law pending the Electronic Trade Documents Act coming into force. 

The trade document transaction provided the targeted proof-points and business benefit realisation, which were set-out to be measured, including but not limited to:

Document transaction time was reduced to 1 working day instead of previously 9 days

Increased security with limited fraud risk

Ensuring that the original documents were in place prior to the vessel’s arrival.

More sustainable, no production or transport of paper documents.

Reduced courier costs.



Next step 

With trace:original  you can realise the benefits of the Electronic Trade Documents Act, today. Do not hesitate to get in touch, book a meeting or demo to learn more. 

alex copy

Alex Waites 
Executive Director

Tel: +447842773369 


Ulf Eggefors 
Head of Transport & Logistics
Tel: +46703206333