“Mandatory requirements for the electronic exchange of information on cargo, crew and passengers have been adopted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), as part of a revised annex to the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL).
“The IMO has said the change will help make procedures for a ship’s arrival, stay and departure from port easier once the FAL takes effect on January 1, 2018.”
This should of course facilitate commerce, but it is also an important part of the Maritime Domain Awareness System.
You can see the text of the new rules here: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/01/30/2015-01331/vessel-requirements-for-notices-of-arrival-and-departure-and-automatic-identification-system
“This final rule amends the applicability of notice of arrival (NOA) requirements to include additional vessels (commercial vessels 300 gross tons or less coming from a foreign port or place), sets forth a mandatory method for electronic NOAD submission, and modifies related reporting content, timeframes, and procedures. This final rule also extends the applicability of AIS requirements beyond VTS areas—to all U.S. navigable waters—and to non-VTS users.”