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UNNExT Guide for the Design of Aligned Trade Forms for Paperless Trade

Published: December 2011

The basic instruments for transmitting information in international trade are aligned trade documents based on internationally accepted standards and best practices. These play an important role in the efficiency and security of international trade transactions.
To simplify the documentary requirements for international trade, the United Nations developed the United Nations Layout Key for Trade and Transport Documents (UNLK) together with related standards that define the layout of trade documents, the presentation of data, the semantics of trade/data, and the related code lists. The UNLK is applicable to all trade forms used in the commercial transactions sector, in the payment sector, in the transport and related services sector such as forwarding and cargo handling, transport, insurance and in the official controls sector. This Guide aims to support trade facilitators in developing aligned series of trade forms. The process described in the Guide facilitates later development of electronic documents for use in paperless trade and Single Window. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) have developed a UN Trade Documents Toolkit , which complements this Guide and provides simple electronic tools to design aligned trade forms.
The Guide describes the design of paper trade documents aligned to international standards, with a view to later automation through electronic exchange of trade documents and automated information processing (paperless trade). Chapter 1 provides a short introduction into the history of the UNLK. Chapter 2 presents the formatting and physical design aspects of the UNLK. Chapter 3 details the functional design of forms, and the use of semantic repositories, code lists, and Box Completion Guidelines to develop an aligned and efficient system of trade documents. Finally, Chapter 4 gives an outlook on how aligned paper forms can be further enhanced to obtain electronic trade documents.
Download the full publication: UNNExT Guide for the Design of Aligned Trade Forms for Paperless Trade (ECE/TRADE/372)